Landing that first great job is a huge priority for college students and it can also be a big stress. Stats show one of most critical things students can do to break into the career they're pursuing is securing a good internship.
Andres Diaz, 20, said an internship is helping him launch his career. Diaz is still a year and a half from finishing his bachelor's but said he's already in a dream job working in I-T at Interport Group in Doral.
"The best part is that I get to do what I love every day," Diaz said. He works with a handful of other paid interns at Interport Group, a logistics company that moves $1 billion in merchandise around the world each year.
"Now we're looking for the newest and the brightest to take us to the next level and we can't find them unless we spend time with the interns," said Gary Goldfarb, the chief strategy officer at Interport Group.
Diaz found this paid internship through a new program called the Talent Development Network housed at FIU. The Beacon Council, which promotes jobs in Miami-Dade County, created the program after hearing complaints that local businesses couldn't find new talent and higher education students couldn't find work.
Beacon President Larry Williams said internships launch careers, "About 80 percent of interns get hired by that same company."
Just ask Adam Rogers. He started as an intern at Ultimate Software in Weston about 19 years ago. Now, he's the chief technology officer at the billion dollar tech company.
"Over 95 percent of the interns that get internships here will receive offers for full time positions," Rogers said.
Like FIU alumnus Dionny Santiago, who has a full time job testing the company's software.
"I learned a lot about presentation skills, which are skills that can be applied to any field," Santiago said.
The company is growing so fast it has about 100 interns working in South Florida. For students at FIU, they can get additional help connecting to the corporate world at the new tech center.
An internship coordinator works with students to find the right match. Companies are regularly invited to recruit students and even work on projects with them.
Ranu Jung, the interim dean for FIU's College of Engineering and Computing, said internships are critical because students are able to network and build important relationships.
"At the end of it, it is making connections. You get to know people. They get to know you," Jung said.
Experts said this competitive job market means students have to be aggressive finding and securing an internship, but that hard work will often end up in a job. They said professors and college counselors are great places to find an internship that fits them.
The Talent Development Network (TDN) is open to higher education students across Miami-Dade. Pay for these interns generally runs between $12 and $18 an hour.
For more information about TDN, click here.