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Internship Leads to Deeper Commitment to Community

Emily Jahsman

Megan Poe was well into the spring semester of her sophomore year when she heard about a community health internship with a local Lunch and Play program.

The program, a partnership between Portneuf Health Trust and School District 25, was looking for a volunteer coordinator to organize the daily physical education activities for local schoolchildren. Operating from May until August each year, the Lunch and Play program provides free lunches and opportunities for children to learn about physical activities. Poe, interested in obtaining experience within the field of nursing, applied for the position expecting to receive basic work-related experience and a modest paycheck. What Poe gained through the internship not only changed her path of study but also her definition of community.

“I started my internship knowing I had a passion for helping others, but it wasn’t until I started working daily with the local kids that I really started to consider focusing on community health within my nursing degree,” Poe said. “Community health nursing is a great way to positively impact many people at once through health initiatives.”

Megan Poe

Megan Poe spent her summer organizing healthy activities for children.

During the summer of 2018, the Lunch and Play program served more than 75,000 meals to local youth. Each meal was served with an opportunity to “play” with local volunteers, and activities ranged from Zumba to kickball. Volunteers included firefighters from the Pocatello Fire Department, employees from the Pocatello Gold’s Gym and the ISU men’s and women’s basketball teams.

Poe’s experience was made possible through the Career Path Internship program. The CPI program helps students prepare for life after college by providing real-world, paid, professional experience while they are still in school. Students participating in the program are provided with an internship that is directly related to their degree and career pursuits and is paired with a mentor who helps the student navigate their internship duties.

In 2017, the CPI program provided 986 professional internship experiences to Idaho State students. The program works with all colleges and divisions, creating a wide range of experiences for students. Since the inception of the program in 2010, more than 6,000 students have been given the opportunity to stand out among their peers and the results have been outstanding.

“We see time and time again that our CPI participants are able to more easily find employment after graduation or gain access into graduate and professional programs because of their CPI experiences,” said Emily Jahsman, CPI Program Manager. “Recently one CPI student was being pursued by both John Hopkins University and University of California, Berkley for graduate programs because of the undergraduate research she conducted during her CPI internship. Stories like this are not unusual. CPI participants gain tremendous experiences that set them apart from their peers.”

In 2018, more than 90 percent of student participants reported that their internship experiences would help them gain full-time employment after graduation. Garrett Critchfield was one of these students. Critchfield graduated with a bachelor’s degree in finance and marketing in May 2018. During his senior year, he landed a CPI internship with Advantage Plus Credit Union where he learned the ins and outs of personal and small business loans. Responsible for coding, posting and preparing all loan documents, Critchfield proved his worth during his internship and was hired as a full-time employee after his recent graduation.

“As a transfer student, I wasn’t sure if ISU was the place for me. During my first tour of the campus I heard about the CPI program and, honestly, that was the reason why I decided to attend ISU,” explained Critchfield. “This was the only school that I visited that had a program where I could go to school full-time and also have a local, paid internship.”