The University of Mary Washington has been named a “Top Employer for Interns” by the Virginia Talent + Opportunity Partnership (V-TOP).
“All the award winners demonstrate a commitment to meaningful internships,” State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) Director Peter Blake said in a release this morning announcing 2023 honorees across the commonwealth. “High-quality internships enhance a student’s educational experience and strengthen our workforce.”
The timing of the announcement – Thursday, July 27, Virginia Intern Day and National Intern Day – is especially poignant for recognizing interns’ contributions to the workforce and honoring employers who offer programs providing valuable career-centered experience.
UMW hosts interns on campus year-round as part of its long-held mission to support working-learning opportunities that round out the classroom experience. The University also encourages students to seek off-campus internships with businesses and organizations that are looking to attract and retain exceptional employees. By the time they graduate, more than 30 percent of all Mary Washington students have completed some type of internship.
Senior Ava Hart is among them. On her way to earning a bachelor of liberal studies degree in criminal justice, she’s completing a six-week stint with the Stafford County Sheriff’s Office, where she visits accident scenes and sits in on court trials. Junior Yonatan Asfaw, a computer science major with a cybersecurity minor, is working with the Arpa-Cloud software development company, where he maintains security groups and assists senior-level administrators. Asfaw and Hart are among students serving as Virginia Intern Day 2023 ambassadors.
Experiences like theirs help bolster the workforce in the greater Fredericksburg region and throughout the commonwealth, said UMW Center for Career and Professional Development Director Antoinette Jenkins.
“Internships represent one of the most impactful, mutually beneficial opportunities for organizations to demonstrate social responsibility,” she said. “These essential work-based learning experiences enrich us all by nurturing students along the pathway to a profession that will yield returns for them, their families and the community for generations to come.”
A $250,000 grant – part of the Commonwealth Innovative Internship Fund and Program – was awarded to Mary Washington last summer by SCHEV for the creation of the Rappahannock Work & Learn Collaborative. As its director, Jenkins serves as the V-TOP representative for Go Virginia Region 6, which includes Fredericksburg, along with the Middle Peninsula and Northern Neck areas. In that capacity, she is charged with expanding work-based learning for K-12 and post-secondary students, in collaboration with Virginia employers, educational institutions and government agencies.
The Life After Mary Washington initiative – UMW’s current Quality Enhancement Plan, part of the reaffirmation of accreditation that happens every 10 years – weaves the concept of career readiness, through such endeavors as internships, into the fabric of the UMW experience.
It also extends to students beyond campus, who find UMW as a home base for their internship experience. This summer, UMW has nearly 90 interns in on-campus housing, welcoming students from schools as far away as the University of Puerto Rico who are working at nearby entities like the Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division and the Marine Corps Systems Command at Quantico.
Any push for internships is a good thing, Asfaw said: “It opened doors I never realized were there, and it gave me an opportunity to meet great people and a job opportunity. We are all looking forward to doing great things together even after the internship is over.”
- Check out the UMW Intern Adventures blog and Mary Washington students’ observations about their grant-funded experiences.
- Interested in learning more about internships available through UMW? Call the Center for Career and Professional Development at 540-654-5646, email them at email@example.com or book an appointment online.
- Watch a YouTube video where UMW’s Center for Career and Professional Development Director Antoinette Jenkins describes for the Fredericksburg Regional Chamber of Commerce what the V-TOP program is and how employers can get involved.
- Read Jenkins’ Let’s Strengthen Our Regional Workforce—Together! blogpost on UMW’s Center for Economic Development website.
- Participate in today’s University-wide social media takeover promoting Virginia Intern Day and National Intern Day. Use hashtags #MaryWash, #VirginiaInternDay, #VID, #NationalInternDay and #NID.