Many college students are unsure of what they want to do after graduation. Some turn to internships as a way to test out working life and get a better idea of what they are interested in. Nelnet’s Pathway Internship program places students in three-month internships at various departments within Nelnet.

Former Pathway intern Mary Woodruff says the experience was enriching.

“As a Pathway intern, I accomplished a sense of purpose. During my internship, I discovered what I am passionate about and what career I want to pursue,” she said. Woodruff found that she loved working in human resources while working for Jessica Schumacher in Nelnet’s People Services department.

Woodruff attributes much of her success at Nelnet to her guidance. “Jessica is the most influential person I have met through my internship. She allowed me to take on an immense amount of responsibility for an intern and provided hands-on experience that will be extremely beneficial in my career. She also supported me and encouraged me to set high standards for myself,” she said.

After her Pathway internship, Woodruff was given a traditional internship. She is excited to stay with the company throughout her time in college.

UNL student Connor Jolley also started as a Pathway intern before being given a traditional internship. After connecting with Schumacher during a practice job interview for a UNL program, he applied to the Pathway program.

In his new internship developing software for PaymentSpring while also working in venture capital and data analytics for the Innovation Hub, Jolley gets hands-on experience and great mentorship. “When I was a Pathway intern, I loved working at PaymentSpring because the team was always willing to explain and help me understand complex software concepts, and everyone treated me like I was a valuable member of the team. I continue to enjoy working with them as a traditional intern,” he said.

At the end of the Pathway program, interns give a presentation to executive leadership about their experience at Nelnet. Jolley decided to make his presentation special. “Instead of giving an informative speech about the projects I worked on and the departments I worked in, I decided to try and give a speech filled with stories that would motivate and inspire the audience. I managed to impress the executives and land a venture capital-related job. With that speech, I proved to myself that by trying something different and making myself vulnerable, I could go further than if I sat back and waited for the future to arrive,” he said.

Woodruff encourages any students who are on the fence about whether to join the Pathway program to give it a shot. She said, “The program gives you clarity, develops your skills, builds your network, and helps you find your true passions. There is no internship program like it.”

After her experience as a Nelnet intern, Woodruff hopes to become a professor of human resource management. She said of her time at Nelnet, “I found a department I loved, with co-workers who welcomed me into their family. Now, I get to focus on exactly what I want to do with my life.”

If you know a college student who might be interested in the Pathway program, contact Jessica Schumacher. The Spring Pathway Program application is open through Nov. 2.