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By Lisa Bartlett, OC Board of Supervisors Chairperson
Summertime is coming to a close, and this also means it is back-to-school season. With these new academic opportunities ahead, students are challenged to connect the lessons learned in the classroom to their everyday life and future career. The best way to apply what has been learned is through an in-depth internship program. I am a firm believer that a combination of strong educational course work, coupled with professional experience, can greatly benefit students as they transition from college to the working world.
As County Supervisor, I have advocated for a countywide paid-internship program to bolster current programs available to students. When speaking with professors, students, educational advocates and leaders, they always promote the importance of an internship. Professional internships are so valuable, many college programs require students to complete an internship prior to graduation. Unfortunately, for so many, choosing to participate in an unpaid internship while working and attending school can be extremely stressful and, for some, is simply not an option.
To help ease the burden and alleviate the stress, we have created a paid internship program. The term of the program is up to one year and is available to students enrolled in undergraduate, graduate or technical/vocational schools.
Through this county program, currently enrolled students, or those who graduated within the past six months, will have the opportunity to gain valuable work experience in one of our 25 county departments. They will be able to apply the knowledge and skills learned in the classroom to a real-life work environment, network within their career field, and enhance their resume, all while serving the residents of Orange County. Whether it is business management, health care, project development, community resources, environmental practices, communications, or any of the professional services, an intern will gain incomparable experience with a multitude of projects and challenges in a professional, public environment. Should an intern decide to pursue a full-time career with the County of Orange, they will be in a much more competitive position having completed the internship program.
This program not only benefits our students, it also has tremendous benefit to the county. Our goal is to always have the best talent available to ensure we can meet and exceed the needs of our residents. The compensation aspect of these internships will make our program more competitive than other regional and local internships, bringing in some of the best and brightest students. Getting these sharp minds into the OC family is the first step of hiring and retaining qualified individuals to provide excellent public service.
The new countywide paid-internship program will launch on Sept. 17, where I will be joining our Human Resources team to present the new program to internship coordinators and program liaisons from all of the colleges, universities and trade schools around OC. Once implemented, internship opportunities will be advertised on the county’s jobs webpage. There will be three classes of interns with specific requirements:
- Undergraduate Intern, $14/hr, enrolled or recent graduate from an AA or BA degree program;
- Graduate Intern, $19/hr, must be enrolled or recent graduate from an advanced degree program; and
- Technical Intern, $19/hr, currently enrolled or recent graduate from an accredited, post-secondary education or technical/vocational institution.
The county is always striving to create the greatest opportunities for our residents to live, work, and play, and this program is just one way to try and make that happen. We are excited to help launch the career of future county employees and look forward to welcoming them to our county family.
Lisa Bartlett is the chairperson of the Orange County Board of Supervisors. She was re-elected in 2018.