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A memory many of us cherish is the sense we had as young people that the world was wide open for our exploration. The CALS campus offers fertile ground for such discovery. Every day in our classrooms and labs students are learning more about the world and how they might improve it.

Dean Kate VandenBosch

Their on-campus learning can be strengthened by off-campus experiences—and as a CALS graduate, you can help. As part of our strategic planning we’ve been talking about alumni mentorship. CALS alumni are employed in professions reflecting our 19 wide-ranging departments and 24 majors. Many of you are in a position to offer students potentially life-changing experiences with the working world. And our students are asking for your guidance and advice.

There are many ways to provide that. It can be as simple as giving a presentation about your work on campus or inviting a student group to visit your workplace. You can also share job opportunities with students in the CALS group on LinkedIn and with CALS Career Services.

One especially powerful way to draw students into the working world is through internships—and that is an area in which students could particularly use your help.

About 41.5 percent of CALS seniors report having had an internship. Internships, they say, allow them to hone such skills as managing projects on deadline, effective communication and working in teams. And when they graduate, internships provide a network for hearing about openings and getting references (many students are hired by companies for which they interned).

But while internship opportunities are plentiful, they are not evenly distributed across all fields. Demand for particular internships is changing along with our demographics (biotechnology, for example, is in high demand by students). Students in newer fields such as bioenergy, or in fields that are more public agency- or nonprofit-based, such as community and environmental sociology or community health, often have a harder time finding an internship, particularly one that pays.

As our eyes and ears in a variety of fields, you probably have good ideas about possible internship projects or know of opportunities we might not be aware of. You can help us forge links between talented students and those opportunities.

It’s also an area where donations can help. Students can often find or create an internship with an organization that might not be able to pay. If we can support a student in that setting through private donations, we can have more interns in fields where we have high student interest but little industry infrastructure.

Helping students enter the working world is one of the most meaningful ways we can help CALS grow the future. Please consider what role you might play, and feel free to make use of the resources below.

CALS Career Services: Assistant Dean John Klatt, jklatt@cals.wisc.edu
CALS LinkedIn: linkedin.com, UW-Madison College of Agricultural and Life Sciences
Make a gift: http://supportuw.org/giveto/calsinternships