$1 Million Babb Gift to Provide Paid Internships for Students

Nov 17, 2023 | News & Events

Thanks to a generous gift, more students at the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith will have access to paid internships as part of their university experience.

On Thursday, Chancellor Terisa Riley informed the University of Arkansas Board of Trustees that Doug and Kathy Babb committed $1 million for paid internships and apprenticeships for UAFS students.

The Doug and Kathy Babb Premier Internship Endowment will match employer contributions so students can benefit from hands-on practice and real-world experience as they approach entering their careers.

The opportunity for paid internships is vital to college students, many of whom hold jobs while they attend classes full-time and lack the resources to take on even more responsibility, said Susan Krafft, executive director of the Babb Center for Career Services.

“We have many students who cannot afford to work without pay, even if they’re getting academic credit, especially since they have to pay tuition for those credit hours,” Krafft said.

“Expecting a large population of students who are first-generation and Pell grant-eligible to take an unpaid internship is just not realistic. It eliminates outstanding, smart, skilled students from even being considered for an unpaid opportunity.”

Doug Babb, who with his wife Kathy endowed the Babb Center for Career Services, has a special affinity for these students: He once was one of them.

When Babb taught a leadership class in the College of Business and Industry, he saw himself in his students.

“I realized that these people who were one of the first (in their family) to attend college, that they were working their way through college. … They were putting themselves through school and (had to) balance work, family, education.”

The Babbs endowed the Babb Center for Career Services to help students prepare not just for the work of their careers but also for soft skills, everything from offering a firm handshake to dressing professionally to arriving on time for work.

The new donation will make internships reachable for more students.

Signature internships will support students who intern with “strategic partners and key employers.” The university will match pay per hour made by the employer, who might otherwise be able to offer only an unpaid position. A portion of the endowment also will support students who participate in project-based, short-term microinternships at no cost to the hiring partner.

The endowment will strengthen the relationships between the university and employers who offer internships.

“This endowment will create an internship program through our office that will ensure students are paid for their work, regardless of their major or field of study,” Krafft said. “This will create positive working relationships with employers in our area who can use skilled students from UAFS, creating a pipeline of new talent.

“Students get real-world experience in their field of study, which is a recurring theme in our Strategic Plan and our mission,” she said.

Photo from the UAFS All Majors Career Fair, hosted each semester by the Babb Center for Career Services.

About the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith: Founded in 1928, the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith has served the citizens of Arkansas for nearly a century, empowering the social mobility of its students and fostering the economic growth of the River Valley. Through dynamic academic programs, innovative research and development, and robust community partnerships, brings the power of education to the nearly 6,000 ambitious students who call it home. A commitment to experiential learning means UAFS students are ready to enter their careers the day they cross the commencement stage, and a dedicated body of faculty and staff who truly care prepare them for success at every stage of life.

Do South Magazine

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