Career Services Helps Students Find Meaningful Internships

by Public Relations

Looking for a job can be tough, especially in a difficult economy. Internships help better prepare students for the workforce by giving them experience in their chosen field. Career services at Cedarville University exists to train students in lifelong career strategy and aims to help them expand their knowledge base, learn to network and build their career navigational skills.

Jeff Reep, director of career services, has advice for students pursuing internships. “It’s important that [students] get started early in the process,” he said. “You don’t want to wait till you’re a junior and start looking for an internship. Take advantage of your three summers prior to senior year. Since the economy is still tough, internships may not be posted in abundance. To crack the hidden job market, I think it’s important to reach out and contact organizations within the location that you’re interested in.” He suggests identifying people within the organization who could help give leads, e-mailing to inquire about openings or physically stopping by the office to leave a resume.

Many students have taken Reep’s advice and applied it with great results. Timothy Ronco, a senior mechanical engineering major, interned at Goodrich Corporation, an aerospace company that designs and sells subsystems to aircraft manufacturing companies. “The practical work experience has been invaluable,” Ronco said. “Going to college and working are completely different ball games. My classes at Cedarville played a huge role in preparing me for my internship, and my internship has been essential in preparing me for industry.”

Ronco’s internship led to a job with Goodrich in a specialized leadership program that develops and equips college graduates to become leaders in the company. He advises looking to people you know for possible internship opportunities. “Anyone who is going to be able to hand a physical copy of your resume to a hiring manager is someone that you want to talk with,” he said. “For whatever reason, electronic applications rarely ever pan out. That personal connection is vital, especially since college students have little experience.”

Samantha SanGregory, a senior accounting major, also held an internship that led to a job. “I found my internship by attending a job fair hosted by the school of business at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio,” she said. “This fair was recommended to me by Jeff Reep and my academic advisor. I was looking for a summer accounting internship and had not considered interning for anything besides a CPA firm, but after talking to Progressive’s recruiter, I began to consider corporate accounting positions. Because I met Progressive through another school’s job fair, I did have to put forth extra effort to stay in touch with the recruiter, but it was well worth it.”

She will begin working full time for Progressive Insurance when she graduates, and her status as a former intern has put her on the fast-track for a higher accounting position of her choice in the future. “Stretch yourself,” she advises. “Be willing to put yourself out there and take risks. Work hard at building contacts and maintaining them. Be open to new options and consider every opportunity available to you. Dress professionally at all times—you never know when your next first impression or interview will take place.”

Meredith Sumner’s internships didn’t lead to a full-time job, but they did provide her with interesting positions to add to her resume. Sumner, a 2011 graduate with a double major in both organizational and international communication, interned at both NASA and Sea World. “I interned with NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia the summer before I came to Cedarville,” she said. “Today I’m so thankful for the experience because it’s a great resume booster. Sea World was awesome. I loved every minute of it. Orlando is the tourism capitol of America; you have the chance to meet so many fascinating people from around the world. Human resources took really good care of the interns, making sure we had every opportunity to network within the company.”

Sumner said that having multiple internships on your resume will show potential employers that you’re ambitious. “You’ve branched outside the classroom to acquire skill sets necessary for your field. Also, don’t overlook connections you already have. Thanks to my cousin at NASA, I was working alongside students from MIT and Cornell with just 30-some community college credits to my name.”

To learn more about all that career services offers, visit their website at www.cedarville.edu/career.

Cedarville University attracts 3,300 undergraduate, graduate and online students to more than 100 areas of study. Cedarville is a Christ-centered learning community recognized nationally for rigorous academic programs, strong graduation and retention rates, accredited professional and health science offerings and leading student satisfaction ratings. Visit the University online at www.cedarville.edu.