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President's Corner: June 2016

Last month, I introduced you to our study-abroad programs. Now I want to showcase another way that Old Dominion University is maximizing opportunities for students this summer: our efforts to link them with internships.

Nearly 60 percent of our students participate in an internship before they graduate, and that number is growing.

Old Dominion's Career Development Services has a liaison assigned to each college in the university. They help students every step of the way, from selecting internships that best fit their skills and interests to ensuring that they make the strongest impression as applicants.

Career Development Services also works with businesses looking to create internships that provide lasting benefit for both employer and student.

Ladson Webb, a mechanical engineering major who expects to graduate next year, is a manufacturing engineering intern this summer at Morphix Technologies in Virginia Beach. He found the internship through ODU's Career Link online network, and he credits our career counselors with helping him sharpen his resume and interviewing skills.

This is no get-the-boss-coffee-and-make-some-copies type of internship. "They're really expecting me to ramp up very quickly," Webb said. His job, in short, is to speed up the assembly process for a product by removing any inefficient steps.

We have helped students land internships with employers small and large.

At Newport News Shipbuilding, 27 of the 115 interns this summer are from Old Dominion, more than from any other university. They represent majors ranging from engineering to nursing.

Parnetha Callahan, the coordinator of the internship program, calls them "great, eager students" and describes Old Dominion as a "key pipeline school for us." Newport News Shipbuilding, which offers full-time jobs to successful interns, now employs nearly 1,300 of our alumni.

An internship greatly increases the odds of landing a job, even if it's not with the company where the student interned. The National Association of Colleges and Employers last year reported that 57 percent of graduates who had completed an internship received at least one job offer, compared with 37 percent who didn't.

Our director of career development services, Denise Dwight Smith, knows from experience. "As a past employer, I didn't hire anybody for our management training program who didn't have an internship," she said.

Webb believes his internship will pay "a large dividend" down the road.

"In life, there are things you know and things you don't know and things you don't know you don't know," he said. "Going to Career Development Services helped draw my attention to things I didn't even know to think about."

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