Making career connections: student internship program opening the door of opportunity
Obviously attending classes and getting good grades is an important component of academic success for students at The Ohio State University at Mansfield, but securing an internship can be that extra step that leads to their career success. Make it a paid internship, as an estimated 90 percent of internships available at the Mansfield campus are, and that’s the icing on the graduation cake.
Ryan Jenkins and Hannah Williams have both completed internships and experienced the benefits they can bring.
“It’s been really good, even better than I thought it would be,” said Jenkins, a 22-year-old senior majoring in business at Ohio State Mansfield. “When you watch how interns are portrayed in movies, and you think you’re going to just be getting coffee, but they give me a lot of tasks and responsibility.”
Jenkins, a resident of nearby Lexington, started his internship at MHS Industrial Supply last May. The employer initially set the internship to end three months later, but they were was so impressed by Jenkins’ performance that they extended the term through January and have offered him a full-time job in the purchasing department.
Williams, a 21-year-old senior majoring in business management at the Mansfield campus, began her internship with the human resources department of the Mansfield office of School Specialty in January 2018. Originally charged with assisting with recruiting new employees, she recently transitioned into assisting with employee relations and has had her internship extended through Aug. 30 of this year.
“I screened applicants, called individual applicants, scheduled them for interviews and would do the interview,” she said, describing her recruiting duties. After discussing the interviewees with her bosses, she would hire those selected. “I would lead orientation. … It helped me step out of my comfort zone. I recently switched over to another side of HR, employee relations. I sit in on terminations, help with tracking data. I really get to play a pretty big part with all that they do. It’s been awesome that they let me do it.”
Jenkins and Williams are two of 386 students — 199 Ohio State Mansfield students and 187 North Central State College (NCSC) students — who have participated in the internship program since it began in 2013, said Pam Schopieray, Ohio State Mansfield director of career development and internships. Ohio State Mansfield, NCSC and Columbus State Community College partnered with the Columbus Campus to obtain a Job Ready grant which provided initial funding, and Ohio State Mansfield and NCSC, which is co-located with Ohio State Mansfield, currently fund the internship program through a partnership, Schopieray said.
While students can seek out their own internships, typically employers provide the internships through the program.
“Usually it’s the employer telling us what are their desired qualifications are, and we communicate that to our student body in a variety of different ways,” she said.
Typically students in an internship work with an employer for three or four months often to gain experience in the area they hope to pursue after graduation and to begin developing a network in their chosen field, she said.
“Number one, of course, is that the interns complete career-related projects,” she said. “When we talk to the employers, we talk about meaningful projects; take something off the employer’s plate that they need done (but may not have the staff size to accomplish without some assistance).”
Developing connections in their desired profession is the other primary benefit.
“On average at least 70% to 75% of people obtain their jobs through networking,” Schopieray said, referring to statistics compiled by the National Association of Colleges and Employers.
As part of his internship, Jenkins examined MHS Industrial Supply’s delivery schedule and designed a new route plan, which he estimated can save his employer up to $10,000 a year.
“I’ve actually done a lot better in school with this internship,” he said. “It’s really made a lot of things that I’ve learned a lot more applicable (to work).”
Jenkins suggested students who don’t include an internship in their courses of study are missing out.
“Some of my classmates haven’t even tried to get an internship,” he said. “I really think that’s going to hold them back.”
Williams said doing an internship has complemented and enhanced her classroom work.
“I think I was just very eager to be in it and not just read it out of books,” she said. “Being in it really helped me appreciate what I was learning. It helped me appreciate that I could learn about it and be better at the job.”