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Students add work experience to their resume through Sierra College internship program

By: Kylea Scott Journal correspondent
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Research has shown that students who have internship experience earn higher starting salaries and are less likely to be unemployed, according to Brook Oliver, internship coordinator at Sierra College?s Internship Program. Students who have had internships are much more likely to get an interview and/or be hired than students who did not, Oliver added. Sierra College has an internship program that offers assistance with student internships at all levels of college education. ?Sierra College is the only college in the state that offers a two-level career-based internship program,? according to the program?s end of the year report for 2011-12. The program placed 175 interns for the 2011-12 academic school year; this equals to about 19,000 hours of hands-on career experience, according to the report. Any role in any business or industry can be an internship. Sierra College Internship Program has worked with interns for every major including small, local and large businesses and international companies, according to Oliver. While most internships are unpaid, Oliver said some companies are still offering paid internships. Most paid interns who are just starting in their field can earn $10-$12 typically; others who have more experience can earn more, Oliver said. Most internship positions are around eight to 10 hours per week, which makes balancing school, a job and an internship possible with good time management, according to Oliver. Before the economic decline there was a 30 percent career placement rate for student interns, Oliver said, ?We are hearing on a national level that students who have had internships, even if not for the company they are now applying to, are getting first chance at interviews since they have the practical application along with the theoretical piece of training or education,? Oliver said. Sierra College students can earn academic credit for their internships. According to Oliver, students can earn between 0.5 and four units per semester; for unpaid internships, 60 hours equates to one academic unit, and 75 hours for paid internships. Students have to meet eligibility requirements to earn credit, as well as pay $46 per unit earned, Oliver said. Oliver has been the internship coordinator at Sierra College since 2001. She said the program helps students by maintaining a free online posting system for internships and jobs, called Sierra Job Link. They also help students research the opportunities they are interested in, and assist them with resume building and interview preparation, according to Oliver. Student interns get glimpse at future Alycia Krewson, Sierra College student intern, is majoring in criminal justice. Through the internship program, she has been able to gain hands on experience in the industry. Krewson said she is currently an intern at the Sacramento Sheriff?s Department, Child Abuse Bureau. She has been working as an intern there for eight hours per week since January. ?Before this internship I would?ve never wanted to become a cop, that wasn?t what I had in mind for myself. But being there and working with everybody has made me think about putting myself through the academy,? Krewson said. Her work at the bureau, she said, includes inputting child abuse forms, reviewing the new reports that come in and routing them to detectives. She has also experienced field investigations where she witnessed interviews with allegedly abused children, and alleged abusers being arrested, she said. There weren?t any obstacles or apprehensions to overcome, according to Krewson, everyone was very helpful and friendly. ?We treat each other like family,? Krewson said. Liz Gallamore is another student intern at Sierra College. She is currently an intern at the Placer County Probation Department, and last spring she was an intern at the Placer County District Attorney?s Office. The internships have opened many doors and provide the opportunity to experience the field, she said. ?My internship has given me so much more experience than a textbook ever could,? Gallamore said. Assistant Chief Probation Officer, David McManus, said student interns are valued in the office. ?Our department enjoys a good relationship with the Sierra College Criminal Justice Program. We believe that interns gain valuable insight into possible career paths and make themselves more marketable to prospective employers with the knowledge and experience they obtain,? McManus said. ?We also gain insight into their work ethic and abilities and we have hired candidates with intern and volunteer experience.? Gallamore said her favorite aspect of the internship is the confirmation that she is pursuing a career in the right industry, knowing this is where she wants to work, she said. ?Picking an industry to study in school is difficult, ?cause you never really know if you?ll like it until you?re there,? Gallamore said.