Internships are an integral part of many undergraduate (and graduate) student experiences. During the COVID-19 pandemic, students get creative in carrying  out these experiential learning experiences, from transitioning online to helping businesses and organizations adapt to a new normal and recover from economic distress.

The cross-cutting value that internships have on students and the organizations they serve becomes evident when you hear about these opportunities in action. In a meeting between the Office of Engagement and the Vermont Small Business Development Center (VtSBDC), Sarah Kearns, a statewide advisor with VtSBDC, raved about the insight and perspective that summer intern Meg Scagnelli, a senior in the Grossman School of Business, brought to their work, noting that, “having Meg on our team this summer was invaluable to VtSBDC! Meg did one-on-one work with VtSBDC clients and made a meaningful impact on their businesses.” Kearns went on to highlight the value of interns and internships:

“Having interns is a fantastic investment in the future. We have learned so much from our interns this summer. They keep us focused on what young entrepreneurs may need, and up to date on the latest technology. I recommend making the investment in having an intern- it pays off. If you really listen to them and give them space to contribute, it is a win/win for all.”

Scagnelli was drawn to VtSBDC after hearing from their state director, Linda Rossi, at UVM’s Women in Business Speaker Series. She applied to an internship with the organization when the detrimental effects of COVID-19 on Vermont’s economy became more evident; she was compelled by the opportunity to join their team during a time when Vermont’s small businesses were especially vulnerable. While at VtSBDC, she was able to gain valuable skills in marketing and project management that not only provided her with confidence and experience, but also allowed her to use her skill set to provide consultation to established clients and assist in building out VtSBDC’s programming.

Two of the primary goals of UVM’s newly formed Office of Engagement are to (1) “incubate new and deepen existing partnerships involving UVM faculty, students, and staff” and (2) “increase the value of UVM to all of Vermont’s communities, including our business, non-profit, and public sectors.” Scagnelli's experience at VtSBDC is a perfect example of how internships fulfill these goals: Interns build experience, make important professional connections in the field, and get to experience what it’s like to work professionally in Vermont. Simultaneously, the organizations that host interns benefit from students’ fresh ideas and perspectives, energy, and the opportunity to mentor (and even test-drive) the next generation of professionals in their field.

Internships bring these goals to life, and strengthening UVM’s internship infrastructure has become a cornerstone of the work being carried out by this new office. The Office of Engagement aims to build and expand these kinds of important internship opportunities across the state.

Learn more about internships at UVM, and learn more about creating internship experiences at your business or organization

You can also contact the Office of Engagement’s Internship Coordinator, Amanda Chase, to help you get started.