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SUNY expands support for Cortland internships

SUNY Cortland has been awarded $281,700 for internship-based learning through a SUNY initiative that will boost funding for real-world, career-enhancing experiences across the 64-campus system. 

The goal, announced last month by SUNY Chancellor John B. King Jr., is for all SUNY students to have at least one internship or other real world educational experience before graduation.

The recurring state support will create approximately 50 new stipends to financially support interns, said Nan Pasquarello, director of Career Services. Additionally, the university plans to create 12 new on-campus paid internships and implement two new technology platforms to support internships, networking and career development.  

SUNY Cortland’s Internship and Living Stipend lets students gain experience in a number of industries, including public service and high-demand nonprofit sectors like education, community health and health care related to their future career goals. The funding can support transportation, parking, child care, housing, food and other incidental costs and expenses. 

Pasquarello noted that Cortland is one of the first SUNY campuses to begin rolling out its new programs and that the process is still underway. 

“We were not expecting this allocation, and we were pleasantly surprised to be given the opportunity to propose how to spend this money to support students who are engaged in applied learning and internships to design successful careers,” Pasquarello said. 

A SUNY Cortland pre-med student serves as a patient care advocate at Guthrie Cortland Medical Center.

Last fall, SUNY Cortland proposed three initiatives related to the funding. With the money now confirmed for all of them, it will be used by the university for students’ living expenses while they’re enrolled in unpaid or underpaid full-time applied educational experiences, including internships required for a major and student teaching. 

“Career Services is delighted to provide direct financial support and other resources to our students,” Pasquarello said. “The need is there for many of our students, so these funds are expanding access to internships and applied learning. We are grateful that New York state and the SUNY chancellor have decided to provide internship and living supports as part of the budget.” 

The new tech platforms supported by the state funding are: 

  • CareerShift, which helps students organize internship and job searches, and helps find and store job listings from job boards and company job postings. 
  • FOCUS 2, a self-guided career, major and education planning system designed to give students the chance for self-assessment and guide them through the career planning process. 

The unique power of internships is their ability to inspire students and let them enjoy direct experiences that teach them more about their upcoming careers, according to Pasquarello. She noted students benefit from networking and real-world training that lets them hone and grow their abilities while contributing to the community. 

“Internships help students obtain hands-on, industry experience, and they involve an academic and reflective piece to the experience to solidify learning knowledge and skills,” she said. “They help students explore if a career path is right for them, and they also provide students with networking opportunities and professional references. Employers value job candidates who have completed internships or other applied learning experiences.”