WISE COUNTY, Va. (WJHL) — High school and college students in Southwest Virginia will soon have expanded access to paid and academic internships thanks to a $250,000 grant awarded to the University of Virginia’s College at Wise (UVA Wise).

The two-year grant is funded by the General Assembly and is part of the Innovative Internship Partnership Program, also known as the Virginia Talent + Opportunity Partnership (VTOP), which was created by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV).

“Learning outside the classroom is as important as inside the classroom,” Chancellor Donna P. Henry said in a release from the university. “Employers expect recent graduates from high school or college to be ready to hit the job running on the first day.”

“Providing valuable hands-on experience not only helps graduates get jobs here in SWVA, but it also aids employers in keeping their businesses going and growing,” she said. “It’s another way we can deliver on our strategic mission to promote economic and community development in Central Appalachia.”

The internships will range from paid positions to academic credit internships and will feature a wide variety of fields, according to a release from UVA-Wise. Areas of study include information and emerging technology, energy innovation, mineral resource development, agricultural manufacturing and food and beverage manufacturing, according to the release.

Internships not only provide students with real-world experience but also give them a kickstart on building their resumes. The grant funding will provide opportunities to students in both public and private schools, the release said.