News Staff Writer
UNC Asheville held its student Internship Expo where speakers from 19 local organizations and companies flocked to campus seeking students for internships relevant to their majors.
The expo an event held each semester by the UNCA Career Center in order to introduce students to valuable internship opportunities in the area.
Various positions are accessible to all students of any year and any major. The internships also range from unpaid to paid with an array of different customizable hours and job responsibilities tailored to their needs.
David Earnhardt, associate director for employer relations and Cate O’Connor, the student engagement coordinator at the Career Center planned the event. Despite the larger size of the expo the planning and execution of the affairs were no problem for the two.
“The reason for this event is so that employers and students get to have authentic conversations. Our goal for this is to give folks the opportunity to meet and take away some of the nervousness of an awkward handshake of someone they’ve never met before. The goal of the expo is to facilitate those conversations,” Earnhardt said.
After the employers gave their pitches they began meeting and talking with prospective interns.
UNCA’s Internship Expo is different from others; instead the employers seek out the students.
“One of the really cool things about this event is that it lets students just sit back and listen. The employers have to do the hard part of getting up and pitching their opportunities. Then students have the opportunity to talk to whoever interests them. I think that’s really unique. It’s not quite the same as the NextFest event that we hold,” O’Connor said.
O’Connor said internships, especially paid ones, are invaluable to kickstarting a career and entering an industry.
“Internships are really important in terms of gaining experience. Data shows that people who have had internships are more likely to be hired faster and at potentially higher pay grades, so it’s just really exciting to offer this opportunity to students,” O’Connor stated.
Some of UNCA’s faculty and staff were also present at the event. Allison Weems, a lecturer in French in the department of language and literatures presented an opportunity their department had been working on creating for more than two years.
“This internship is an opportunity for a student in French at UNCA to intern at the Chateau Musee Saumur. It is an internship that was created in partnership with Asheville Sister Cities, which is a non-profit organization here in Asheville. It was in conjunction with the department of languages and literatures here at UNCA,” Weems said.
Weems discussed one of the many internships available for credit. Several of the positions available can offer credit as an internship elective.
“We created this opportunity for students to go and intern and go develop their skills in the domain of tourism, art history, communications, writing, etc. So the students will be able to customize their experience based on what they are studying currently and what skills they would like to develop,” Weems said.
The internship Weems presented at the expo is just one of the many opportunities available to UNCA students. Other employers included the Asheville Museum of Science, Better Than Unicorns, AVL Today, IFB Solutions and Vistanet.