In a competitive job market, a degree alone might not be a sufficient qualification for a job. As employers demand increasingly more qualified job candidates, students must look for new ways to differentiate themselves beyond simply their academic experiences. Internships can be a critical way for students to gain experience outside the classroom, with a practical use for their careers. In collaboration with its partner universities, the Advance Program in Honduras has helped students find internships to increase their competitiveness in the job market.
Advance has worked with partner universities to identify and manage internships with outside employers, helping to familiarize those employers with the concept of internships for technical degree students. For example, Advance worked with CEUTEC to identify advertising companies that had web development needs. The Program then visited these companies, including Ingenio Digital, Premper, Industrias de Exportación, S.A. de C.V. and Loto, among others, to propose that they partner with the university’s Web Design and Development program. During the visits, the Program presented information on the degree program and the benefits of providing internship opportunities to students. By the end of December 2019, sixteen Web Design and Development students completed their professional internships with thirteen companies, further strengthening their technical skills and employability skills.
For the students, the benefits were not just the chance to complete their professional internship hours, but also to acquire practical skills, contribute to solving real-world problems and expand their network of contacts. The companies, meanwhile, benefited from reduced recruitment costs, fresh ideas from students, and connection to potential future employees.
After following up with the students who completed internships, the Advance Program confirmed that six of the sixteen students who completed an internship have been hired at the same companies where they interned. Elka María Andino, for instance, was hired as a "Front End Developer" at Industrias de Exportación S.A. de C.V., while Jorge Aguilar was hired as a "Front End Developer" at Raite Honduras, their first jobs after their degree programs. Jorge commented, “The Advance scholarship has been very useful. They have also supported us with personal development workshops and sessions about how to find internships and work“.
The success of the internship work that the Advance Program has done so far demonstrates the importance of internships in technical degree programs, as they allow students to develop key skills in a real world setting. Given the benefits to both students and companies, Advance will continue its efforts facilitate partnerships between universities and companies to provide internship opportunities for students.