Articulate May 2019

The Value of Interns


Written By: Mallory Cross

Businesses often hire the cream of the crop

Victoria Vicary is now the Reading Pals assistant at United Way of North Central Florida, but she had no idea she would reach this position when she started as a social media intern three years ago.

Vicary is among the hundreds of interns who end up staying with their employers following their internships with businesses and organizations in Greater Gainesville. The retention of young talent strengthens the local economy, employers say.

“It’s internship opportunities like these that are close to the hearts of students who then become graduates, and ultimately can become residents and community leaders here,” Vicary said.

At United Way, Vicary gets to utilize what she has learned from studying psychology at the University of Florida in addition to familiarizing herself with skills that are nearly impossible to teach in a classroom, like organizational culture and interpersonal communication.

Internships that help transfer learning from the classroom into the real world are critical for young professionals, said United Way President and CEO Mona Gil de Gibaja, who is Vicary’s direct supervisor.

“When you find a great intern, who gets to learn your organizational culture and then performs at a level at or above an employee, you have a great intern and a great potential employee,” she said.

The infusion of new life that interns provide helps to raise overall morale, creativity and excitement across an organization said Valerie Riley, the director of marketing at ITProTV.

“They come with this contagious sense of excitement that just permeates through our office,” she said. “Their enthusiasm uplifts the team, and they always have the right technical skills that we need.”

In addition to providing energy and ideas, internships serve as a good screening tool for potential employment. Internships provide employers an opportunity to screen entry-level candidates in a safe way while also observing how the potential employee embraces brand values and interacts with stakeholders.

In addition to providing energy and ideas, internships serve as a good screening tool for potential employment. Internships provide employers an opportunity to screen entry-level candidates in a safe way while also observing how the potential employee embraces brand values and interacts with stakeholders.

ITProTV brings on about 60 percent of its interns as full-time employees. Internships help ease the onboarding process, Riley said. When an intern already understands the intricacies of business operations, it lessens the training period for all employees involved.

“If we bring someone on as an intern, and they’re a cultural fit who is coachable and has the skills that we think they need, they often will find themselves with a full-time job,” Riley said.

Chandler Burger started as a graphic design intern at ITProTV in May 2018 before transitioning to full time in August. Burger credits much of his success to his internship experience.

“All of my work processes have become much more organized, and the bandwidth I’m able to operate under has expanded since I came on as an intern,” Burger said. “Being familiar with all the tools our company uses has made me triple as efficient as before.”

This holistic sense of career development that Burger experienced while interning at ITProTV is the goal of the UF Career Connections Center, which connected Burger and ITProTV.

Making Improvements

Through career fairs, mentorship sessions and other programming, the Career Connections Center promotes internship opportunities that exist among the wide range of successful industries in Greater Gainesville.

“The internship process is an opportunity for our employers to be active participants in cultivating, developing and shaping the future of their business environment,” said Ja’net Glover, the center’s senior director. “There are many benefits to having an intern from
an employer perspective, as well as a student perspective.”

Gainesville’s strong town and gown relationship creates a symbiotic partnership between established businesses and zealous interns who are eager to blossom into professionals. Glover noted that the synergy that exists among employers and their interns is mutually beneficial.

“Younger generations are truly changing and shaking up the way business works,” she said. 

Leave a Comment