An old Chinese proverb states, "I hear, and I forget. I see, and I remember. I do, and I understand." The world may have changed dramatically since these words of wisdom were first stated, but the truth therein rings as true today as it was then. Active participation and experience deepen the connection between academic concepts and their relationship to life. An academic internship experience provides a "sneak preview" for students as they gain depth to their education. Not only do interns have a window to the real world of work, but they are invited to come through the door and gain experience. Students learn best when they know where they have been, realize where they are now, understand where they are going, and catch the vision of how they are going to get there.
An internship is defined as an experience for academic credit that generally relates to a student's major or career ambition. It provides the student an active insight and working involvement into his or her discipline of study or career choice. It also gives the employer or experience provider an opportunity to determine if the intern is a potential employee. Internships at BYU-Idaho must be directly related to the student's major. It can be accomplished on or off campus, part time while the student remains enrolled in classes or full time, and within the U.S. or internationally.
Kurt Romans, an agricultural engineering major, and his wife Rachel, a social work major, completed a three-month internship in Katlehong, South Africa. Each gained a better understanding of their talents and responsibilities. As a team, they "worked side by side with special Saints of the Lord."
Kurt gained insights as the student became a teacher. "Our internship to South Africa opened my eyes to the need for people willing to share their knowledge with others," he said. As pioneers for the humanitarian project Kurt said, "I felt like great things were accomplished to improve the standard of living of the people there. We had the opportunity while we were there to teach those who were not afraid of a little hard work, how to sustain themselves by growing a garden. They were willing to learn everything that I could teach them. At times I felt overwhelmed with the amount of things that I did not know, but that in turn helped me to search for the answers that they needed. You can learn all you want to out of a book, but not until you apply it will it finally make sense."
Kurt and Rachel began to forget about themselves as they realized the challenges that faced others. During their internship, they witnessed the transition in people's lives as they became more self-reliant. By the end of the internship, the people of the village had begun to reap the first fruits of their labors. Kurt reported, "They now had some food for themselves, but it was so abundant that they were able to sell some of it for a profit. That was the first income some of them had received in years."
The options for placement are as vast as the spectrum of education and imagination. Traditional placements such as student teaching and nursing clinicals are also included in the definition of an internship. Obviously not all interns have such distant locations as did Kurt and Rachel. Some students have their academic internship opportunities on campus or in local Rexburg businesses and offices.
Lindsey Beasley is getting a taste for indepth organizational lines by working at BYU-Idaho's Internship Office as he completes the internship requirement for his business management and marketing degree. "It has been a change of pace for me. I will be able to better decide if I really want to work for a large corporation when I am done," said Lindsey, "or if I prefer to work for a smaller entity." Either way, he is becoming better prepared. "In mimicking my mentor, I find my own ways. It is a foundation for me to find my work habits that I have not already developed," observed Lindsey. "After I graduate, I can use the internship as leverage to sell myself to a potential employer."
Just as in Lindsey's case, the academic internship program at BYU-Idaho is an integral ingredient for successful completion of the requirements for a bachelor's degree. Of the 51 bachelor degree programs to be offered at BYU-Idaho, 88 percent include an internship requirement for graduation. Students enrolled in the remaining 12 percent of programs are strongly encouraged to include an internship experience as an elective course. Most associate degrees also include an element of internship as well.
Internships for BYU-Idaho are structured to meet guidelines and standards across the Church Educational System. Representatives from BYU-Idaho, BYU, BYU-Hawaii, the LDS Business College, and the Institutes have met to determine how best to administrate the academic internships effectively and efficiently and how to best share practices and resources.
Guy Hollingsworth, director of the BYU-Idaho Internship Office, sees the internship as a continuum and cooperative effort. Each academic department sponsoring an internship program designates an internship coordinator. Students identify their interests and potential experience providers. Hollingsworth maintains a growing list of employers seeking BYU-Idaho student interns. He serves as the facilitator who brings the desires of the academic department, the student, and the employer/experience provider into a common reality.
Each internship includes an orientation to gain understanding of the requirements and expectations. Organizations and companies sign Master Internship Agreements. Then a Student Internship Agreement is developed as a three-way contract between the student, the experience provider, and the university.
Interns comply with the experience provider's policies and procedures, keep BYU-Idaho dress standards and Honor Code, enroll as an academic internship student, and work the dates agreed upon. The employer agrees to provide opportunity, leadership and evaluation of the student. BYU-Idaho provides a bridge of communication and strives to promote harmony and cooperation. Internship programs provide businesses with highly motivated employees, produce better workers, and link employers with the educational institution.
Murphy Farms-Smithfield Foods in North Carolina has a pool of interns from numerous universities throughout the country. They agreed to accept two BYU-Idaho interns for the Winter Semester 2002. While five of their eleven interns were sent home because of "failing to adjust, policy violations, or lack of focus," a Murphy Farms report to BYU-Idaho was full of praise. They found Nolan Perry, a business major, to be "an exceptional young man." The report continued, "He has set a great example to the extent that we are sending him back ... to assist us in recruiting business interns for our summer and fall semesters."
Nolan found the experience to be life changing. He said, "Dream your dreams. Follow the Lord, and He will steer you in directions you never though possible. I am finding that to be true in all aspects of my life."
Internships can be an efficient and low-cost way of recruiting permanent employees. Just such an offer was made to the second intern at Murphy Farms-Smithfield Foods, Mike Maughn, a sophomore majoring in animal science. In Murphy Farm's correspondence to BYU-Idaho they described Mike, "He has been such a dedicated, hardworking young man that ... he was offered a management trainee position." The evaluation continued, "That is unusual since all of our management trainees have college degrees. [Mike] has indicated that he will most likely go back to finish his degree, but will keep the offer open."
Each intern reflects the special character and values of BYU-Idaho. The work environment and colleagues in North Carolina were undoubtedly different than the campus in Rexburg. Ed Shelton, human resource director at Murphy Farms, concluded his correspondence by saying, "What Mike does not know is that his uniqueness has become a valuable asset to his managers. They want more, they want those qualities that are so hard to find in our workplace. Those good faithful members who can come and remain faithful will see that the world rewards them appropriately."
Experience providers can potentially have interns year round rather than the more traditional but limiting summer months only. "BYU-Idaho has hit the jackpot with its intern program," Shelton said. "The year round opportunity serves our company well, and I know that it will prove to be a benefit to your students."
With BYU-Idaho's three track system, most students will find the ideal time for an internship to be during their off-track semester. For example Ashleigh Wood, a recreation education major, is conducting marketing research for Grand Targhee Resort, an ideal winter semester opportunity for someone on the summer/fall track. Ashleigh said, "It has been a great learning experience in a new environment. I am learning what it takes to make a company a success as I observe what changes the resort makes based on the information I am giving."
Her supervisor at Grand Targhee, Suzie Barnett-Bushong, says it has been a win-win opportunity. "Ashleigh is learning a lot and we are learning from her. She is a tremendous guest advocate and is doing great research for us." Observing Ashleigh's interpersonal relationship skills, Barnett-Bushong said, "She has represented BYU-Idaho in such a magnificent fashion. If she is an indication of the student body, then I would like to have an intern literally every winter."
By getting their foot in the door, students like Ashleigh are able to see if they would like working for a specific employer while learning to interact professionally. They may gain references to get into graduate programs. At the same time they add to their resume and establish contacts for potential future employment opportunities. Internships may be considered an extended job interview for both students and employers.
Since internships are generally paid positions, students are able to earn money to pay for further education. When she returns from the ski hill and comes back to the BYU-Idaho classroom, Ashleigh will share her new perspectives gained on how to build recreation programs that the public loves. But until then she says, "I feel I am one of the luckiest people because I am doing a job I absolutely love, I am learning from it, and I am getting financial compensation."
BYU-Idaho students list varied reasons for participating. Some try to meet their major's elective requirements or gain valuable practical work experience in their chosen vocation. Others consider it part of the decision process as they choose a career. They gain exposure to different job opportunities, develop professional skills and work habits, and gain practical and marketable skills. There is an element of excitement in changing locations and living in another city, state or country. Placements allow the students to work with equipment and technology that otherwise is often inaccessible.
Most interns are paid, although in some cases the internship experience is on a volunteer basis. While ultimately, students want to be paid for the internship, they are encouraged to not overlook the long term and positive benefits of experience gained on a volunteer basis. In some cases, a stipend may be available for a volunteer/non-paid internship.
Businesses and our economy need a work force that is resourceful, flexible and well trained. Educators need to have a finger on the pulse of a rapidly changing world. BYU-Idaho students need exposure and opportunity so they can say "I did and now I understand." Internships make all three possible
Graduates from BYU-Idaho are beginning to make a tremendous impact in the work force. To find out how you can be a part of the BYU-Idaho internship program as an employer or a student, please contact Internship Director Guy Hollingsworth at (208) 496-2181, write to BYU-Idaho Internship Office, 244B Kimball Building, Rexburg, ID 83460-1675, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also visit the BYU-Idaho Web site at www.byui.edu.
Accompanying her husband Kurt while he completed his internship in South Africa, Rachel Romans observed, "The people really made the project a success-- the people in Idaho who had the vision and faith to send us, the people in Johannesburg who believed in the project to give it life, the people who did all the dirty work to keep the project going and most of all the people who came through faith and diligence to work in their garden every day. And miracles truly did happen. The gospel works through service, just as the Savior spent his life serving others. What a blessing in our lives to have had the opportunity to give such an important service to our brothers and sisters. A knowledge for a better life."
|Accompanying her husband Kurt while he completed his internship in South Africa, Rachel Romans observed, "The people really made the project a success- the people in Idaho who had the vision and faith to send us, the people in Johannesburg who believed in the project to give it life, the people who did all the dirty work to keep the project going and most of all the people who came through faith and diligence to work in their garden every day. And miracles truly did happen. The gospel works through service, just as the Savior spent his life serving others. What a glessing in our lives to have had the opportunity to give such an important service to our brothers and sisters. A knowledge for a better life."