Company to offer paid internships in Gainesville
Published: Monday, March 18, 2013 at 9:45 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, March 18, 2013 at 9:45 p.m.
University of Florida students will soon have new paid internship opportunities with a Fortune 100 company.
Integrated retailer Sears Holdings Corp. has chosen Gainesville as the home of a new pilot internship program in which UF students will be recruited to work in the company's information technology sector. They will have the opportunity to work on data analytics, network and information security and process analysis and design.
The company plans to initially recruit 25 UF interns to work at different Sears Holdings locations around the country this summer before bringing them back to Gainesville in the fall to work at the new office once it opens.
Gainesville will be the first city to host the internship program, called the Technology Undergraduate Educational Partnership.
Keith Sherwell, chief information officer for Sears Holdings, said it wasn't just UF, the location or the support from the community that made Gainesville the most attractive option on a list of potential college towns.
Where the community and UF intersects, particularly at Innovation Square, made the difference. Innovation Square, located at the site of the old Alachua General Hospital, is an effort by the city and UF to bring research and business together in Gainesville.
"It was all those things working together," he said.
He noted that the plan represents a different approach to creating local jobs, as students could intern for an extended period of time at the local office, which will initially have two full-time staff members managing students, and eventually get hired on full time. This, in turn, could form the basis for a larger development center in the future as the internship program grows and produces more experienced graduates.
"This is a way to train our students and then grow jobs here," said Ed Poppell, director of the UF Development Corp. and part of the team that worked to bring Sears Holdings to Gainesville.
Christina Shanks, resource strategy consultant for Sears Holdings, said she and Sherwell met with engineering students Monday morning and could already measure a great deal of interest.
"Right after Keith's talk, I already had 20 resumes in my email," she said.
Shanks said internships will be available for more than just computer science and computer engineering students. Students studying industrial engineering, statistics, mathematics and digital arts also can seek out the internships.
Shanks said interviews will be conducted on campus during the next few weeks, and interested students can visit the Gator CareerLink page on the UF Career Resource Center's website for more information.
Officials from UF and Sears Holdings gathered with local dignitaries Monday at Ayers Plaza to celebrate the new partnership.
Mayor Craig Lowe touted the move as another example of the success the collaboration between the city of Gainesville and UF has had.
"I think this is another great advance for our city," he said.
Cammy Abernathy, dean of the College of Engineering, credited the caliber of UF's students as another factor that will lead to the success of the new program.
"It's a testament to the quality of our students," she said.
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