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We are seeing an exciting trend at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh: more and more students who earn internships and other professional work experiences connected to their studies are successfully converting those opportunities into full-fledged jobs.

That’s great for students, and it’s great for a city, a region and a state committed to retaining the talent UW Oshkosh cultivates and graduates!

Having a job on the other side of Commencement isn’t the only ingredient in the recipe for long-term success. Our students need to feel supported and deeply connected to peers, leaders, culture and growth opportunities in their area communities; they can and should be a part of things even before they earn a diploma.

We are taking our institution’s support for young professionals to some uncharted and innovative territory.

It is Young Professionals Week in Wisconsin, and I am excited to announce that a renewed partnership between the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh and the Oshkosh Chamber of Commerce will give UW Oshkosh students with internships and clinicals or other professional work experiences connected to their studies a deeper peer and community connection before they graduate.

The Oshkosh Chamber is extending membership to its young professional network, Propel Oshkosh, to include current UW Oshkosh students 21 and older who have engaged in internships and professional experiences connected to their studies.

UW Oshkosh has previously worked with the Chamber to offer membership to campus faculty and staff and first-year alumni. That will continue. This year, we are proudly expanding the opportunities.

Propel Oshkosh was launched in 2003 as a development and networking group for young professionals aiming “to attract and retain young individuals for local businesses in the Oshkosh area,” according to the Chamber of Commerce.

The benefits of Propel membership are many. Every year, members have access to an array of low-to-no cost programs and experiences including leadership breakfasts featuring business and civic leaders, professional development and social-networking activities and company spotlight events.

It comes down to this: If we collectively believe in the importance of developing, retaining and supporting new talent, why wait until graduation to strengthen the talent’s community connections? UW Oshkosh has hundreds of students in internships and professional experiences in businesses and organizations in Oshkosh and the New North that we know are poised to transform into jobs.

Students can, and should, feel more deeply connected to a professional network of peers before they even earn their degrees, pursue further studies or live and serve here.

The Oshkosh Chamber of Commerce agrees. “Throughout Wisconsin, businesses, nonprofits and elected leaders have joined forces to strengthen partnerships and collaborations that help retain much-needed talent in the state,” Chamber CEO and President John Casper said. “We are excited to continue working with UW Oshkosh, its colleges and its successful Career Services division and colleges to offer Propel Oshkosh to students we need to join and start businesses, volunteer, raise families and contribute to the community that they and their future alma mater call home.”

I encourage students to join our campus community faculty and staff and take advantage of Propel and the valuable experiences and connections it offers.

Contact your college internship coordinator or reach out to UW Oshkosh Career Services and let us know if you would like to be counted as a Propel Oshkosh member.


Note: This post was first published in the April 27 edition of The Advance-Titan.