Industry Roundtable Offers Insight Into Opportunities for Student Internships
Contact: Jeff Murphy
WARRENSBURG, MO (Sept. 25, 2008) - Ways UCM can collaborate with area industries, including providing opportunities for students, were discussed when President Aaron Podolefsky hosted the second annual Johnson County, Missouri Industry Roundtable Sept. 23. About 25 people took part, including members of the campus community, county business and industry. The university worked with the Johnson County Economic Development Corporation to make the event possible.
Education and the World of Work
“There are innumerable opportunities in which we can work together if we know what you need to know,” Podolefsky told the gathering.
The theme for the luncheon was “Bridging Education and the World of Work.” In keeping with this topic, Teresa Alewel, director of Career Services, discussed some of the ways her office collaborates with businesses and industries to provide internships, part-time positions for students, and job shadowing experiences, in addition to hiring UCM graduates. Other presenters included Mary McCord, professor of management and business communication, who highlighted the Integrative Business Experience program and discussed the mutual benefits of service learning, and Darrell Brammer, manager for marketing applications for the Small Business and Technology Development Center. He outlined ways that the center collaborates across academic disciplines to help start-up businesses and existing businesses to become more profitable. Brammer also introduced Brittney Smithers, a UCM graduate student from Warrensburg, who provided details about how she and other students in a Strategic Management class spent part of their summer working with Acceleration, a rapidly growing Lee’s Summit company, to develop a consistent marketing theme for its business publications.
Partnering with Business and Industry
Alewel led the session addressing issues that included the importance of partnering with businesses and industries to help students become better prepared to enter the workplace.
“You can’t just get a degree and walk out there and perform. You need some of that hands-on experience, and there are so many different ways we can partner with employers, especially those employers in our backyard,” Alewel said.
She said the university is an excellent source for part-time personnel. About 1,800 students attended the Part-time Jobs Fair conducted by the Office of Career Services at the beginning of the fall semester. Among its many services, the office can post part-time and full-time positions for companies, and serve as a good data source for employers wanting information about the job market, such as salaries. It also works with about 700 employers who visit campus each year to interview UCM students.
Alewel stressed the benefits of internships, noting that “the message we try to get to all students is that the internship is critical.” While students benefit from the hands-on experiences, internships provide organizations with a year-round source of highly motivated pre-professionals who bring new perspectives; provide a flexible, cost-effective workforce, not requiring a long-term commitment; and provide visibility for a business or industry on campus.
“It’s a good partnership for both sides,” Alewel said. She added that nationally businesses and industries report that an average of 30.7 percent of their new college hires are graduates who served as interns with their organizations.
Student Service Opportunities
Brammer, who has many years of professional experience in industry, also works with academic departments to provide student service project opportunities with companies. He estimated that 125-150 students are involved in short-term projects this semester which are giving them real-world experience.
“What I saw when I worked in the industrial field is that students need experience…I can work with you to see if we can help with a project,” he told the group.
Talking about her work this summer with Acceleration, Smithers said “The project was by far one of the most beneficial I have ever worked on as a graduate or undergraduate student.” She learned from experiences such as making a formal presentation to company management.
“The formality and professionalism of this event was unmatched by any in-class presentation that I have ever given. It gave me the confidence to know that I can do this once I graduate,” she said.
“It was really exciting to know that we could potentially contribute to this company’s success. As a result, it provided the motivation for our group to work harder and be more dedicated to providing them with a professional finished product.”
Hands-on Experience in the Business World
Another way students get hands-on experiences in business is through the Integrative Business Experience
program. McCord said IBE gives students an opportunity to form their own companies, create a business plan, secure a bank loan to provide start-up capital, and market the product, all within one semester. Each team is also involved in a service project, and any profits, after paying off their loans, go to support the charity of their choice. Since the program’s establishment about four years ago, $105,000 has been donated to charities, and students have contributed more than 4,000 hours to service projects. McCord encouraged local business and industry to take advantage of opportunities to work with students.
“When you get together and talk about it, amazing synergies happen,” she said.
To learn more about any of the above topics, call Alewel at 660-543-4395, Brammer at 660-543-8162, or McCord at 660-543-2857.