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COC Is Helping Bring Experience To Students

COCWork experience is valuable in the job market, and COC has high numbers gaining it.

This fall, the College of the Canyons Cooperative Work Experience Education (CWEE) program will reach a significant milestone: the program will have helped more than 1000 students acquire internships.

"The CWEE program at College of the Canyons deserves our congratulations for achieving the milestone of assisting 1000 students," said Congressman Howard "Buck" McKeon.  "My office and constituents have personally benefited from CWEE placements, as several students from COC have worked as interns in my office."

Since the creation and launch of its website in 2002, the college's CWEE program has allowed students to receive academic credit and real-life work experience through internships.

One of those students is Antonio Diaz, who interned for the department while he studied graphic design at the college.

"Aside from working with amazing people that understand the transition from college to employment, I also learned a new programming language and how to execute a large-scale web project," said Diaz.

As an intern, Diaz helped revamp the CWEE program's Website, making it more user-friendly for students to search for internship opportunities. He also designed flyers and helped update the program's course handbook.  

Working on this part of the college's Website "also helped me network with people on campus and employers, which is a key skill for a business owner," said Diaz, who is now the owner of Artifice Studios, a Santa Clarita-based Web studio.

Diaz is currently assisting a number of college departments for Web-related projects, speaks at various classes and with the CWEE director, gives presentations about the CWEE Website at other institutions.  

"Internships are where theory meets reality and where the community becomes the classroom," said Stan Wright, director of the college's CWEE program. "Internships are rapidly becoming prerequisites for quality jobs."

Many organizations will hire successful interns over candidates they don't know at all, added Wright. "In many cases, an internship is an extended interview."

According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) Experiential Education Survey, 58 percent of internship students were offered full-time employment with their internship employers.

While most are unpaid, internships provide students with many valuable resources such as work experience, networking, mentoring and references, which in turn make them competitive job applicants.

"By providing valuable internship programs, the College is offering important mentoring and training for the next generation of workers, which is one of the most important things we as professionals can do," said Ken Striplin, Assistant City Manager for the City of Santa Clarita. "Our City successfully utilized the free online internship development and placement program and subsequently offered part-time paid internships to College of the Canyons students."

Located in the Student Center at the college's Valencia campus, CWEE received the Outstanding Program Award from the California Cooperative Education and Internship Association in recognition of "one of the best internship development and placement programs in the state of California."

"The job market is not great and employers are being more selective when choosing potential employees," said Diaz, "but internships are a good way to gain necessary job skills and experience needed in order to stand out among other job applicants."

Diaz credits his success and easy transition into the workforce to his CWEE internship.

"I think it's impossible to be prepared for the first jump," said Diaz. "There is only so much a college can teach you, but I think utilizing internships makes it easier to get a taste of the real job world."

"Internships help students make a seamless transition from college careers," said Wright. "Internships also help employers lower their hiring costs, decrease turnover and ensure employer and employee fit."

To learn more about CWEE, click here.