Written by special contributor Lance Fleming
When the College of Business Administration (COBA) unveiled the most significant changes to its curricula in decades, one area of great emphasis was professional development. Those studying the updates and later making the recommendations believed a professional internship would help make COBA students more well-rounded prospective employees when they left ACU.
As Dr. Brad Crisp, the Dean of the College of Business Administration said recently, “… we are placing greater emphasis on professional development by requiring a professional internship in management, marketing, and information systems and offering an internship as an option for accounting and finance majors.”
As the person serving as the director of professional development and internships for COBA, Jasmine McCabe-Gossett said the new emphasis on internships will help make students better equipped to handle real-world practices that they will face when they begin working full-time.
“Students need to take advantage of the unique timing internships can offer,” said McCabe-Gossett, who is in her first year as the Professional Development and Internship Director for COBA. “Students have the distinct opportunity to apply what can feel like abstract theories and case studies to the real world. Internships are insulated and allow students to practice in an environment designed for them to ask questions and fail, whereas, post-graduate opportunities can be far less forgiving.”
Tim Johnston, the Assistant Dean for COBA, said a student who participates in an internship program in college will have a distinct advantage over students who don’t take advantage of those programs.
“Many years ago, with the contraction of the economy, many students were entering college without a lot of summer work experience,” Johnston said. “One of the top qualities all employers like to access is work ethic. Without a lot of work experience, it was difficult to feel confident about a student’s ability to dig-in and work hard. Many large organizations started internship programs.
“These programs typically run for 12 weeks during the summer,” he said. “Most are paid and it’s a way for a company to have a long and intense look at the candidates. Many companies only offer full-time opportunities to those students who have completed an internship with their organization. So for many large firms, this is the path into their company.”
When a student is looking for an internship, COBA Associate Dean Andy Little said one thing stands above all when he advises a student on a potential position.
“Fit,” he said succinctly. “In other words, does this organization fit your values and the goals you have set for yourself? Will you get practical experience? What kind of people work there? Is it an industry or market segment that you would like to start your career in?”
McCabe-Gossett agrees that finding an internship in a potential career field is an essential part of finding the right landing spot.
“I encourage students to focus on finding an internship in the industry they imagine as their future career,” she said. “Doing so will allow them to fully immerse themselves so they can determine whether or not their dream industry aligns with their values, work style, etc.”
The National Association of Colleges and Employers has surveyed employers and determined the following qualities are most important to the potential employers surveyed. In order of importance, those qualities are:
- Problem-solving (critical thinking)
- Teamwork / collaboration
- Professionalism / work ethic
- Verbal and written communication skills
- Digital technology capabilities
- Global / multicultural fluency
“We want our students to demonstrate these competencies and reflect on their current areas of strength and areas where growth is needed,” Johnston said. “Their internship manager completes a formal evaluation that provides feedback on these key qualities.
“Another key advantage we are looking to provide for ACU students is an opportunity to intern with ACU alumni,” he said. “Our alumni teach students how professional excellence provides another avenue to honor God, as we serve in the marketplace.”
If you’d like to know more about internships with COBA, as either an employer or a student, email email@example.com.