UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – For many Penn State undergraduates, internships lie at the summit of their educational journey, where they synthesize knowledge gleaned from across academic disciplines and flexibly apply it to real-world scenarios. The intent behind internship opportunities is to build a bridge that can ease the transition from curricular learning to the professional world. Data compiled by the National Association of Colleges and Employers has underscored the extraordinary impact of these internships on graduates: shorter job searches, more offers, and higher starting salaries.
Over the last five years, students from the College of Health and Human Development have been gaining access to a wider breadth of internship opportunities because of financial assistance from the Five Star Internship Fund. The fund reduces the financial burdens associated with internships — transportation, housing, and other unavoidable expenses — so that no student feels compelled to decline an internship due to financial pressure.
Now, firsthand accounts from the College of Health and Human Development are driving home the value of these internships and spurring new interest in philanthropic investment.
William Fitzgerald, a 2017 graduate who majored in recreation, park and tourism management, is currently enrolled in a graduate program at the University of Pittsburgh, where he studies energy and environmental policy. But his passion for building a renewable energy infrastructure was sparked earlier, when a Penn State internship relocated his learning beyond the classroom and immersed him in the work of conservation and land stewardship.