The following is an excerpt from a column by the University of Illinois Springfield Director of Graduate Public Service Internship Program Sherrie Elzinga. This column appeared in The State Journal-Register on June 20, 2021.
June graduation celebrations always include the opportunity to congratulate recent college graduates on their undergraduate degrees and pose the inevitable questions about future employment.
I have found that these questions are often answered with some anxiety, a vague response or with the lament that employers are looking for more experience than a bachelor’s degree provides. Having already invested a small fortune to obtain an undergraduate degree, most students are less than eager to return to school and take on even more debt to obtain another degree that may or may not advance their career.
So, how is a recent graduate supposed to get that elusive professional experience if they can’t get hired?
The solution to this dilemma is the Graduate Public Service Internship Program (GPSI) at the University of Illinois Springfield, which offers students 22 hours of tuition waiver and a monthly salary in exchange for part-time work during the school year and full-time work in the summer. For almost 50 years, this unique public partnership has been instrumental in educating nearly 4,000 students while simultaneously providing them with professional experience in federal, state and local government and nonprofit agencies.
More than 200 students are hired each year to participate in the GPSI Program. It is a very competitive interview process with supervisors selecting candidates from a pool of eligible students four times a year.
The GPSI Chicago program was initiated in 2019 at the request of several government agencies with opportunities for placements in Chicago. Because UIS has been a leader in online education since well before the COVID-19 pandemic and offers a dozen online programs to graduate students, it made sense to expand opportunities to our many Chicago online students.
Recent graduates and those looking for work experience combined with a graduate degree need look no further than the University of Illinois Springfield, where we are committed to encouraging and training the next generation of public service professionals. This is truly an education that you can put to work!