USC’s internship program strives to keep talent in South Carolina

Internships offer immense value to both college students and employers.

Internships provide students with the opportunity to gain practical experience and apply the skills they have learned in a real-world work environment. It allows them to develop a deeper understanding of their desired careers by getting hands-on experience and learning from professionals in the field. In fact, many companies often use internships as a way to identify and recruit potential employees even before they graduate from college.

The University of South Carolina and the state of South Carolina have joined forces to ensure a steady stream of talent within the state. In pursuit of this objective, the university introduced a pilot program in 2023 that offers financial supplements to students engaged in internships and co-op opportunities within the state.

If you want to learn more about the internship program, feel free to delve deeper into the details.

Rex Tolliver, the vice president of student affairs at USC, explained that the program aims to achieve two main objectives. Firstly, it aims to familiarize students with companies in South Carolina that operate in high-demand industries. Secondly, it provides students with incentives to make valuable contributions to the state’s workforce.

Students who participate in an internship or co-op in high-demand industries in South Carolina, such as, will receive a generous sum of $3,000 through the program.

    • Manufacturing
    • Aerospace
    • Energy
    • Health and life sciences
    • Financial services

Students who have completed a fall, spring, or summer internship that fulfills this requirement are qualified to apply for the program. The program is open to students from USC campuses, including USC Upstate in Spartanburg. However, students from the University of South Carolina School of Medicine Greenville are not eligible for the program.

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During the last budget cycle, the South Carolina General Assembly allocated $4.5 million to the university to support and enhance the program. Tolliver noted that funding for the program has also been requested in the upcoming budget.

Financial support

Encouraging students to pursue internships within their home state is a key aspect of the program. However, it is important to acknowledge that unpaid internships may present a barrier for certain students who rely on income. Tolliver emphasized that while these unpaid opportunities may be valuable, the financial supplement can serve as an incentive for students to participate, thereby ensuring that financial constraints do not hinder their ability to access meaningful internships.

“He said that the money helps to fill the gap.”

Salleah Arnay Brown-Massey, a senior at USC Upstate, found the additional funds from her paid internship to be a valuable contribution towards her educational expenses. During the fall of 2023, Brown-Massey had the opportunity to work as a video production generalist intern with Samsung at their Greenville office.

“The extra funding proved to be incredibly beneficial,” Brown-Massey expressed. “It provided me with the means to cover my housing expenses for this semester, as well as a portion of my tuition and book costs.”

Workforce impact

Students who take part in the South Carolina internship program receive continuous support from the university throughout their internship. The university offers pre-internship guidance to help students prepare for their first day on the job. Additionally, students can expect ongoing support and a mid-term check-in to ensure their success during the internship.

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Upon completion of the internship, both students and their employers will participate in an end-of-term evaluation aimed at assessing their preparedness for the workforce. Tolliver emphasized that this survey serves as a valuable tool for the university and students to identify areas that require improvement in terms of workforce development.

According to him, it’s a win for everyone to receive feedback from employers and students about areas that need improvement and then create intervention strategies to address those gaps.

Victoria Sands, a senior at USC Upstate, expressed her appreciation for the evaluation survey as it provided her with the opportunity to gauge her performance against the company’s perspective. Sands, who interned as a video production generalist with Samsung during fall 2023, found this aspect particularly valuable.

“It was a valuable experience for me to witness how my colleagues perceived me within a genuine work environment,” she expressed. “I found it immensely helpful to identify areas where I could improve and grow professionally.”

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