Monday, July 16, 2012

The Value of Internships for Students

As a follow-up to a recent post of mine regarding the value of interships, here is an aricle from the Palm Beach Post, by Emily Roach on that subject.

FSU finance major Melysa Gross has spent the summer at Office Depot headquarters, helping choose products for sales ads, learning about changes in office supply retailing and meeting people in all departments.

And getting a job. Next week Gross, who graduated Florida State University in May, starts as a category assistant in merchandising.

Executive Vice President of Human Resources Michael Allison said he’s excited about the interns Office Depot hired this summer and that the program worked just the way it should for Gross.

“Retailers all over the world are hiring top-notch merchandisers,” he said. “In five or six years, our challenge will be to keep her.”

More 16- to 24-year-olds were working in June than in the prior three years, showing a small improvement for this age group who has been squeezed out of jobs by the recession and lingering labor market malaise. The unemployment rate was lower for 16- to 19-year-olds and 20- to 24-year-olds as summer jobs and internships started up in June compared to the past three years.

Lynn University Business Dean Tom Kruczek said an internship gives a graduate a competitive edge in this job market.

“It’s more important than ever right now,” Kruczek said.”It can be the door to a permanent job, it can enhance your education.”

The school takes an active role in matching students with internships and coaches them on interviewing skills, proper conduct and networking.

Gross said not all internships are the same. The difference at Office Depot was “night and day” compared to her two previous internships as far as giving her responsibility and developing new skills.

Florida Atlantic University senior Katie Gootenberg said her Office Depot internship “empowered” her. She worked on the company’s new partnership with Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation, which will be featured in back-to-school promotions.

As a recent graduate, Gootenberg is also hoping for a job. So is Sumit Bajracharya, an FAU MBA candidate who is one class away from his degree.

“You’re here to make networks,” he said. And Office Depot’s approach encourages that by promoting communication among its 40 interns and holding information sessions that introduce interns to all departments of the company.

The company hires for “capability and capacity,” bringing in bright students who will become even better performers once they are cross-trained, said Robyn Tyler, vice president for Global Talent Management. Many get an opportunity to lead projects.

And managers who will guide those interns are also trained for the job.

Gwyn Bonasoro, director of Talent Acquisition, said managers go through an orientation and HR managers like herself keep close tabs on how things are going.

“You can see, they’re going to grow into leaders in this company — or some company,” Allison said.

Yasmine Clarke, whose technology company Agile Bees is located in Palm Beach Gardens, trains interns as young as middle-school aged in website development, software engineering and digital communication.

Her young workers can get college credit, but they also put themselves in line for a job with the company if the bid they work on becomes a new project. Interns who are a part of the Bee2Bee Network may also work directly with businesses who are Clarke’s clients and are expected to share their newly learned skills.

“Having the appropriate skills and knowledge in the technology industry will only further assist a student’s chances for success,” she said.

Here is a link to the article:

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