October 14, 2011

Conference on “Best Practices in the Management of Internship Programs” for Companies and Colleges Concludes

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The 7th edition of the annual InteRDom Conference took place on October 13, and it brought together businesses and universities to discuss international standards that allow human resources and higher education professionals to facilitate access for college students to internships and to the development of a career plan.

Christian Garcia, Executive Director of the Toppel Center at the University of Miami and the evening’s keynote speaker, outlined the important role that the Career Services Department (CSD) plays for the students, graduates and businesses, starting with the preparation of résumés to enable employers to assess the capabilities of the graduates; advising professionals in the selection of postgraduate and master’s education; providing businesses visibility and access to college campuses; and collecting data that would allow colleges to build new or upgrade their current academic programs according to the expectations of the labor market.

For a CDS to be able to carry out its activities effectively, it is important to have the following groups as strategic partners: the students’ parents, faculty, university employees and administrators, alumni, professional associations, and other CSDs.

Garcia also listed the elements that are critical for the delivery of superior service: the team profile, the technological platform for bringing entrepreneurs and students together on the Internet, and the expansion of the facilities on the college campus. At the same time, he presented important examples on how the services provided by the CSDs increase the levels of employability for the graduates, and the college rankings, thereby guaranteeing access to the labor market.

On the other hand, the Director of the Academic Internship Council (AIC) at the University of Berkeley, Devon Howland, challenged entrepreneurs to develop a rhetoric that does more to value today’s generation of students and young professionals.

“Companies should be prepared to welcome this new generation and to use them in the best possible manner, according to the new skills they have acquired, which go hand in hand with the technology,” he said.

Howland noted that the factors for talent recruitment and retention should be tailored to the particular characteristics of this new generation, where the priority is to keep them motivated and interested through projects with defined time frames, and offering them opportunities for learning; it would be ideal to work making use of their preferences and strengths. The AIC Director said that “they will be the best employees you have ever had.”

The 7th edition of the InteRDom conference was preceded by an interesting round table where the key challenges to generate a dialogue between businesses and colleges were discussed.

Christian Garcia is a higher education professional with 15 years of experience in career services and academic affairs. He currently serves as Executive Director of the Toppel Career Center at the University of Miami, which is one of the most innovative and dynamic Centers in the United States. Christian was recently recognized by the Florida Business Journal as one of the 40 leading business professionals under 40 years of age in Florida. He is a member of the National Association of Colleges and Employers in the United States, where he serves as Chairman of the Committee, as well as of other local and national professional associations.

Devon Howland is the Director of the Academic Internship Council (AIC) in San Francisco, California, a program that supports colleges and students throughout the United States in the development of internship programs and opportunities with the purpose of acquiring professional experience. Howland works with hundreds of employers from his post at the University of Berkeley as the internship coordinator for its Summer Internship Program.

Devon began his career in the business sector and has worked in Human Resources for several Fortune 500 companies, including: Boeing, State Farm Insurance, Chase Bank and Bank of America. He was able to specialize in key areas with the purpose of promoting diversity in the recruitment programs, internal consulting and process analysis.

At the university level he has provided academic counseling to students in academic institutions such as the University of Chicago, Illinois Wesleyan University, Illinois State University and currently at the University of Berkeley. Part of his expertise comes from recruiting in more than 60 universities in the United States.

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