Photo courtesy of the Graduate Students Association
Alex Bybee, vice president of the Associated Students of the University of Nevada speaks at the Pack Internship Grant Program launch event on Tuesday, Oct. 7. UNR president Marc Johnson, vice president for Student Services Shannon Ellis and city councilwoman Hillary Schieve also spoke at the event.

By Jennifer Marbley and Rocio Hernandez

The Pack Internship Grant Program launched Tuesday, Oct. 7 with a promotional event held in the Joe Crowley Student Union ballrooms. The launch event publicized the new Associated Students of the University of Nevada grant program that offers 21 internships that pay $12 per hour to full-time students.

The Nevada Career Studio partnered with ASUN to use grant money to fund student salaries for all internships during the spring semester.

Companies working with ASUN and the Career Studio include the Abbi Agency, nonprofit organizations such as the Nevada Humane Society and public agencies like the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office.

Students, employers and faculty members attended the launch event including ASUN Vice President Alex Bybee, who helped develop the Pack Internship Grant Program. Bybee said that all students deserve internship opportunities regardless of their economic status.

“What are we supposed to say to the full-time college student taking a full credit load and working two jobs to put themselves through school?” Bybee said.

Bybee worked with the Career Studio to design a group of internship options for full-time students with the intent of giving them more real world experience to bridge the gap between academic and professional environments. Faculty members in support of the new grant attended the launch event to encourage undergraduate students to apply.

University of Nevada, Reno President Marc Johnson said that the grant program is a great opportunity for students to get more experience applying the skills they learned in the classroom.

“I don’t think I’ve been on any other campus where students support students the way they do here,” Johnson said. “Students are supporting students to make sure they have jobs.”

Shannon Ellis, vice president for Student Affairs, also spoke at the launch event about the importance of internships for students who decide to enter into a changing job market.

“It used to be that you got a job by pounding the pavement,” Ellis said. “You handed your resume out to hundreds of people and you hoped you got an interview for a job. And nobody expected you to have any experience outside of your summer job working at the Dairy Queen. But the world is different now and internships are the key.”

According to senior Ashley Van Brocklin, the Pack Internship Grant Program is an amazing opportunity for students. Van Brocklin wants to gain real world experience in politics by interning with the Nevada Senate, one of the partners of the grant program.

“Internships are a part of how you get ahead and with a program like this you don’t have to choose between work and academics,” Van Brocklin said.

Bybee said that one of the program’s goals is to level the playing field for students who cannot afford to work an unpaid internship. The money for the 21 internships is funded by ASUN to pay student salaries. He said that he aims to give all students the chance to become more competitive in the job market after graduation by gaining relevant work experience, regardless of their financial situation.

Mary T. Calhoon, career education coordinator for the Career Studio helped create new internships with ASUN grant money. She worked to design new positions and revamp old internships to make them a more rigorous and rewarding experience for students.

James Elste, CEO and founder of the startup company inqiri is partnering with the Career Studio to hire local talent to work. According to Elste, inqiri is an application that uses the latest findings from cognitive science and artificial intelligence to do problem solving. UNR students will have the opportunity to do web development for companies like inqiri through the grant program.

The Nevada Museum of Art is another partner offering paid internships through the ASUN grant. Amanda Horn, director of communications for the museum said that students will get a hands-on learning experience such as doing public relations and marketing for the museum. Horn assured potential applicants that experience in art is not necessary, but passion for the subject is.

“We believe that at really good internships, students are taking away invaluable educational experiences that they are not going to be able to get anywhere else,” Horn said. “That’s part of our core mission.”
Bybee wants student internship opportunities such as the positions at inqiri and the Nevada Museum of Art to eventually spread to a national and global level.

“I imagine that interns will be placed at the White House in Washington, D.C. We wanted to start local but in the future we want to expand.”

Jennifer Marbley can be reached at jmarbley@sagebrush.unr.edu.