Ashlee Crowe didn't have much time to chat. The pediatric medical assistant had just taken a short break from her rounds and she had other patients to attend.
For Crowe, a 2012 Heald College graduate now working at Sutter Medical Foundation Roseville's pediatrics office, a Sutter externship last year at a Rocklin family practice became the proving ground she needed to make health care a career.
Crowe, 36, began her Rocklin stint after graduating last spring, shadowing Sutter employees. Soon, she was assisting with patient care and procedures.
"I didn't want to feel like a third wheel just standing around. I wanted to be involved. That was extremely important to me," she said from Roseville last week. "Now, I'm working in pediatrics. You're dealing one-on-one with patients."
Internships and externships can be invaluable gateways for job-seeking graduates. About 60 percent of 2012 college graduates who worked in paid internships took home at least one job offer, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers.
"Having an internship is critical," said Christina Rivera, director of career services at Heald College. "It's like a working interview. This is a job."
Internships are also becoming more important to employers seeking graduates who are better prepared for the working world.
Internships and other training are also garnering attention at the Capitol and from human resources researchers.
State Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, recently proposed legislation to develop closer partnerships between business and education and invest in "career pathways" including internships and apprenticeships.
Meanwhile, researchers at the Society for Human Resource Management, in its new survey of employers on the state's skills gap, say that California employers may begin working more closely with local schools and colleges to "address skills and knowledge gaps, and create a more qualified local talent pool."
At Rocklin solar technology firm SMA America, the company's competitive engineering internship program has helped the firm identify and groom new talent.
"For electrical and mechanical engineering, we created an intern program to help nurture and grow them in this industry," said Laurie Bringuel, director of human resources at SMA. "There are not a lot of road maps to enter prior to graduation or after graduation, so we see what might interest them."
For SMA's interns, its road map has led to jobs and opportunity for fledgling engineers.
SMA America has had 14 interns the past two years and hired five as employees, said spokeswoman Jessica Dumont.
At Sutter Medical Foundation, its sought-after internship program "has always had more demand than slots we've had available," said Mike Phillips, training and development manager at Sutter Medical Foundation, which currently has 11 interns.
"Internships are a mechanism, not only to provide the vocational training we need for our care centers, but it provides us an opportunity to vet who will be applying for positions," Phillips said.
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