Jump-start your career before you graduate

Morris F. White III, County Extension Director, Vance County
Jul. 14, 2014 @ 10:01 AM

Most college graduates find out that after they cross the stage with their degree, employers are looking for individuals with work experience. But how do you get work experience if no one will hire you?

The Vance County Cooperative Extension Center is empowering college students with an opportunity to learn about N.C. Cooperative Extension and gain work experience in its four programming areas of agriculture, community rural development, family consumer sciences and 4-H youth development. Interns get first-hand experience working alongside extension professionals as they learn how to work effectively on a team, address the needs of the community with research based solutions and develop extension programs.

Providing college students internships has been a great way of growing the next generation of extension workers and exposing college students to what we do at cooperative extension on a daily basis in the community. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers in 2013, 63.1 percent of students with a paid internship under their belt had received at least one job offer.

Currently, we have two paid interns working in the office from local universities in Raleigh. Thanks to opportunities created with N.C. State University’s Cooperative Extension and The Golden LEAF Foundation, we are able to provide work experience for the interns as they receive funding from the partners to pay their summer salaries.

Andrew Thompson, who is majoring in agriculture business at N.C. State is a native of Rutherford County and is gaining first hand experience working in the extension office and at the Vance County Regional Farmers Market. This summer Andrew has even had an opportunity to shadow Vance/Warren Farm Service Agency County Director Christeen Crudupp. Andrew has been given experiences to see the full circle of opportunities in the world of agriculture.

Deja Fuller, a Vance County native, is a sophomore at Meredith College majoring in biology. Deja is Golden LEAF Scholar and has a passion for 4-H and the parenting program offered at the Vance County Cooperative Extension Center. She has been working with the 4-H summer fun programs and researching current parenting trends. Deja has aspirations of becoming a pediatrician and is able to learn about the various stages of early childhood development working with the parenting program.

We are able to see first-hand how internships have the power of extending learning outside the classroom. These opportunities also help jump-start careers as participants gain real life work experience, as well as a sense of pride and purpose. College students should actively look for internships throughout the academic year and not wait until end of their spring semester to begin their search. When returning to school in the fall, visiting your career planning and placement office should be at the top of your list as you work to secure a paid internship for the upcoming summer.