GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) – The NFL Draft in Green Bay might still be a year away, but a group of college students got to live out their own draft day dreams in a very different way Thursday afternoon at Lambeau Field.

NEW Manufacturing Alliance (NEWMA) and the Northeast Wisconsin Educational Resource Alliance co-hosted the ninth annual ‘Internship Draft Day’ at the Lambeau Field atrium.

“Usually, when you interview for a job, they ask you if you have experience, and a lot of college kids don’t,” said Ann Franz, the executive director of NEWMA. “That’s what’s so valuable about internships.”

Prior to the event, students had an opportunity to earn “points” based on their GPAs, work-related experiences, and extracurricular activities in college. At the Internship Draft Day Event, students earned additional points based on how well they did in interviews with prospective employers.

“They want you to do well. They want to learn more about you,” said Franz. “There’s nothing to be nervous about. It’s an opportunity for you to shine.”

Students who earned the most “points” were “drafted first” and won scholarship money. Green Bay Packers president Mark Murphy announced the winners. He posed for pictures and talked with the winners after the event.

Ripon College student Orion Rieden was the “first overall pick,” winning the grand prize of a $2,500 scholarship.

“A little bit in shock but also really proud of what I’ve done, and it really motivates me to keep going,” said Rieden.

“Last year, we had students crying as they went up to the stage because they really need the money, and they’re going to get a great paid internship, too,” said Franz.

Rieden said he’s double majoring in economics and business management. He said he thinks his experience running a painting business and his ability to juggle his school work with being a student-athlete on the baseball team helped him stand out from other candidates.

“It’s a huge game changer. [It] helps me put a cut into my tuition and further my education in the long run,” said Rieden.

He said his goal is to run his own business someday. He said he received several paid internship offers through his networking at the ‘Internship Draft Day’ event, and he’s deciding which one to pursue.

“I want to better my future and find an internship and hopefully a job that suits what I want to do in the future,” said Rieden.

Organizers told Local 5 News that about 150 students from schools in both Wisconsin and Michigan attended the event.

The top two point earners receive scholarships, as well as the top point earners from each college that had at least five people attend the event.

All the students from other schools without at least five attendees get pooled together in one category, and the top point earners receive scholarships as well.

Although not every student leaves the event with a scholarship, they do leave with a fantastic networking opportunity. Event organizers said the companies in attendance offer around 200 paid internship opportunities between them.

The companies in attendance were all in the manufacturing industry, but they offered internships in a variety of different areas, from engineering to human resources to marketing and sales.

According to the National Association of Manufacturers, the manufacturing industry employed nearly 17% of the state’s workers in 2022.

Organizers and companies that were at the event said there are lots of job opportunities in this industry right now.

Mark Weber is the Vice President of Business Excellence at EMT International and said he’s been going to this event since it started.

“It’s always exciting for the employers to get that first glimpse of their future employees,” said Weber. “I like to hear the excitement in their voice, what they’re passionate about, what they want to do.”