Many BJU students will have the opportunity this summer to intern at various places around the nation related to their major that could lead to their first professional job after graduation.
While not all majors require summer internships, most count as up to three credits and are considered valuable for future employment.
Most faculty members and students say the best way to land an internship is through networking.
Networking becomes a student’s most valuable asset to finding the most appropriate and successful internship.
After building relationships with multiple individuals from your field of study who are currently in the workforce, you can better determine which direction to pursue in the future.
Mr. Buiter, dean of the School of Business, recommends beginning the networking process as early as students’ freshman year.
“Internships are a natural flow of the networking process,” Buiter said.
Buiter said to start with your pastor or somebody in your church.
Tell them, as a freshman and sophomore, what your major is and ask if they know anybody in that field.
Then, schedule lunch or coffee with them and ask them about their job—what they like, dislike about it.
After making that one connection, ask that person if they know anyone else you could talk to; from there you begin a network chain.
“It’s [now] the beginning of your junior year and you want an internship. You’ve got 12 business cards—so you call them all up—and they go, ‘oh yeah, I remember you; we had coffee together,’” Buiter said.
Buiter said reconnecting with your contacts and sending in applications during first semester gives employers time to remember you, consider you and contact you.
Then, during second semester, response letters should begin to flood students’ PO boxes.
Joshua Strubel, junior engineering major, has held several internships in past years, beginning as early as his freshman year.
Because of those internships, as well as his involvement in extra curricular activities at BJU, he has the opportunity to intern this summer with the Naval Postgraduate School in California.
Strubel is working on mathematical modeling to study sailors’ sleep patterns and how that affects their military performance.
“The first internship I did wasn’t that great [because] it didn’t pay that well, but it gives experience so you can get that better internship—just [build] up your resume to get the really big internship that you need for your [future job],” Strubel said.
Some internships overlap with ministry opportunities. Alexandra Arnold, junior accounting major, interned at the business office for The Wilds Christian Camp in North Carolina.
She registered campers, organized cabins, contacted schools and churches, and planned the entire assignment of the campus with another intern two weeks ahead.
“I got a lot of experience with different computer systems,” Arnold said. “The sooner you become capable with [them], the sooner you will become more valuable to the people you’re working for.”
Buiter, Arnold and Strubel all believe that extracurricular involvement during school is an important and unique quality to add on an application.
Students with extracurricular involvement are more likely to stand out to employers searching for a summer interns.
Students’ social lives are almost as valuable to employers as students’ GPAs—it demonstrates cultural development, as well as the ability to manage time well.
“[When] I interned with the American Heart Association, one of the things they mentioned was my involvement with Living Gallery—they liked that,” Strubel said. “Basically every major sector of the economy values your extracurricular activities; if someone has, say a [high GPA] that has [also] been on teams, sings in a choir, [or] has been in plays, it seems like employers like those people more.”
A primary benefit of interning in the summer as opposed to during the academic school year, is the student’s ability to truly dedicate time and energy to the internship.
Students are also free to choose companies that might not have had openings or needed employees during the academic school year.