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Although lectures and quizzes are an important part of education, work-based learning experiences, such as internships, enable students to apply their classroom knowledge in a workplace setting. Internships are one of the best ways students can learn about the basics of a job and gain experience in their desired field. Plus, internships allow companies to invest in the rising generation while training them for potential career roles.

Many students are able to complement their classroom education by pursuing internship opportunities. Earn Up provides resources to help students learn more about Career Pathways, and colleges and universities in Northeast Florida utilize popular platforms, such as Handshake, Symplicity and College Central Network, to help students discover internships, connect with employers and network with peers. Furthermore, most colleges and universities provide students with free access to professional development services and internship search help through their Career Centers.

Studies show that work-based learning experiences during students’ educational careers provide a significant return on investment. According to Strada Education Network, college students who participate in paid internships secure better post-graduation outcomes and have higher-paying first jobs. Students who have internships are more satisfied in their career, believe their education is worth the cost and agree their education helps them achieve their goals. These students also report higher levels of self-confidence and support from their schools.

Along with learning practical skills for their future careers, interns become well-rounded employees with experiences they can take into any field. Data from NACE, the National Association of Colleges and Employers, show the positive impact internships have on students’ career readiness. In NACE’s 2018 Student Survey, nearly 80% of students who had an internship or co-op said their professionalism and work ethic were greatly improved by the experience. Likewise, over 70% of respondents said their teamwork and collaboration skills and their communication skills—which employers cite as the most important career competency—improved because of their work-based learning experience.

A multitude of companies in the Northeast Florida region look to hire interns and teach them these essential skills. One of these is CSI Companies, a Jacksonville-based organization that provides staffing solutions and IT consultation. CSI Companies recently launched an internship program—CSI Connect—in partnership with four Jacksonville colleges and the Duval County Public Schools. In 2022, CSI Connect paired six interns with mentors based on their college discipline and trained them in networking, public speaking, brand building, financial literacy and wellness. All interns are encouraged to apply with CSI Companies or its clients post-graduation, and two of these students are now full-time employees at CSI Companies. CSI Connect currently is Earn Up’s featured internship, and more information about the program can be found on their Internships page.

Forcura, a Jacksonville-based provider of healthcare workflow solutions, also seeks to train students during their educational career. Since 2018, Forcura has converted 70% of its interns into full-time employees. Carolyn O’Neal and Christopher Carter both graduated from Northeast Florida colleges, interned at Forcura and now work there as Associate Software Engineers. Carter says his internship “provided the motivation to explore new ways of doing things, and it was very satisfying to work as part of a team.”

Whether students attend school locally, return to their home in Northeast Florida during summer break, or are looking to gain experience in one of the area’s prominent industries, Northeast Florida is able to provide hundreds of internship opportunities in a vast array of industry sectors. Several students who participated in work-based learning experiences shared their success stories with Earn Up, and we are thrilled to see how their internships led them to a variety of fields and job opportunities.

Internships enable eager students to learn irreplaceable, hands-on skills that allow them to put knowledge gained in the classroom to practice. Students who participate in work-based learning experiences enjoy the opportunity of exploring potential career options, and the companies who train them have the benefit of creating a pipeline to full-time employment. Earn Up strongly encourages students to weigh the benefits of interning and is committed to helping them along their unique pathways to success.