Learning content in the classroom is one way of preparing for future careers, but nothing can replace hands-on learning. And that’s where internships come into play.
A wide range of majors at BJU, including missions, business management, graphic design and criminal justice, connect students with opportunities both in the Greenville area and around the world.
Mr. Gene Merkle, previous business management internship director and current faculty member in the Division of Management, said business students have a wide choice of internship opportunities ranging from banking to real estate, insurance to full-service marketing.
Merkle said internships benefit students in several ways. For some internships, students must interview for the position. With this initial experience, students can see areas of weakness and refine their skills for the next interview. Merkle said internships also enable students to learn what it’s like to maintain their Christian testimony and shine as a light in the secular workforce.
Business administration graduate Joe Howell completed his internship last summer with PNC Bank at its Troy, Mich., branch. While working in the Treasury Management Division as an intern, Howell said he was exposed to the responsibilities of a treasury manager analyst.
The internship proved highly beneficial for Howell as he is currently working for PNC bank at its Fort Lauderdale, Fla., branch.
“Some of the benefits [of the internship] were just meeting a lot of people and networking with tons of different individuals from very diverse backgrounds or careers,” he said.
While interning, Howell traveled to the company’s headquarters in Pittsburg, Pa., and interacted with some of the executives. He also compiled relationship reviews that listed clients’ feedback about PNC’s services.
As an encouragement to present interns or students considering an internship, Howell said, “Take control of your internship, and be proactive about finding work.”
Although some internship experiences lead students to a certain career path, others direct students down different paths. Senior business administration major Derrick Davis said his internship in the marketing department of a local retirement community directed him away from a career in marketing.
Davis said his internship experiences, both at the retirement center and his current one in the accounting department at Röchling Automotive, have heightened his interest in academics.
“The things that you are learning don’t seem quite as real when you are reading them from a textbook, but when you are actually out there working and actually doing something similar to what you’re reading about, it comes alive,” he said. “It makes learning a whole lot more enjoyable.”
Senior political science major Heather Osborne also received direction for her future from her internship experiences. After working as a campaign manager for a county commissioner in her state of Florida and assisting her congressman, Cliff Stearns, Osborne decided the life of politics is not for her.
After earning a master’s degree in communication, she said she plans to teach government at a community college.
Osborne encouraged students working at an internship to take initiative and stretch themselves beyond what they think their capabilities are.
After working at three different internships, senior radio and television broadcasting major Riley Jang has realized the hands-on benefits that internships provide. As an intern, she has written press releases, worked in public relations, edited videos and observed the workings of a newscast.
“The more that you experience, the more you [become] skilled at,” she said.
Senior premed major Mark Spencer along with four other BJU students interned for six weeks this past summer at Greenville Memorial Hospital.
They, along with 20 other students from various S.C. universities, participated in a program called Medical Experience Academy. Spencer said the program was broken down into research, didactics and shadowing.
One of the main benefits from his experience was making connections and networking.
His experience with MedEx enabled him to meet and work with medical professionals and explore the USC School of Medicine – Greenville.
Senior graphic design major Katie Klaiber is currently an intern for the City of Greenville in its Special Events Department.
She said her internship has enabled her to learn things about herself and to work with creative people who have given her helpful criticism. “It has helped me realize what parts of design I appreciate more,” she said.
For graphic design students interested in an internship, Klaiber suggests that students begin preparing their portfolios now and develop a good work ethic while taking classes at BJU to prepare them for their internships.