The College of Business was recently ranked No. 2 in undergraduate internships by Bloomberg Businessweek, and the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences is trying to make it easier for its undergraduates to gain experiential learning.
Programs differ around the university, but seek the end goal of helping students become more qualified and competitive for jobs when they graduate.
COB students are required to complete two internships before they graduate. Mary Ellen Wolfsie, director of COB’s career development program, said that this requirement helps add to the college’s Businessweek ranking.
Wolfsie said the rankings are valuable in attracting both prospective students and internship sites.
“It at least makes them aware of us, and the employers are more likely to give us a call,” she said.
The COB has a four-year career development program that forces students to look at internships very early. Students are assigned a career mentor their freshman year and an internship coordinator usually during their junior year. The career development office staff also helps with outreach and connecting students to internship opportunities.
Senior marketing major Anna Carie has interned for Finish Line in Indianapolis, Johnson and Johnson in New Jersey and Mindshare Media Agency in London. She said the structure of COB helped her to find internships and decide what she wanted to do.
“Internships are amazing because they are a glimpse into a company,” she said. “You can find the pieces you love and get to the next level.”
Carie will be working for Johnson and Johnson on the East Coast after graduation, and Wolfsie said Carie’s experience is not uncommon. Wolfsie said many companies use internships as a recruiting strategy, and about 45 percent of students end up working where they intern. The career development program and the four-year focus on professional work exist to help students determine where they should intern and eventually work, Wolfsie said.
“It really should be a strategic stepping stone toward what you would ultimately like to do,” she said. “Before, students were frantically taking what came along because they hadn’t been proactive. I don’t think that’s the case anymore.”
Pharmacy students are also required to participate in experiential learning, and the college is trying this year to make the experience as smooth as possible.
Students are required to complete 300 hours of time in different pharmacy settings, usually after their third and fourth years of school. Trish Devine, the co-director for experiential education in COPHS, said that students used to have to find placements on their own, but this year the college is placing them.
Devine said this makes it much easier for both students— who usually want to fulfill the requirements while home for the summer—and preceptors, the pharmacists overseeing the students.
“Area preceptors were getting bombarded with phone calls, and students were having a difficult time finding them,” she said.
Students don’t interview for placements or fill out applications, and Devine said college staff will make calls for students to try to make connections.
“They were frustrated trying to find a site,” she said. “Even though you give directions on how to make a contact, most of them struggled with that aspect.”
Once placed, students learn something from every experience—whether they liked it or not—and it can lead to other professional opportunities or jobs, Devine said.
“If it wasn’t something I was passionate about or didn’t see a benefit for, I definitely would not be in this role,” she said.
The college has also been piloting software to place sixth-year students in their 10-month-long rotations.
Devine said these rotations are critical to both gaining the knowledge needed to be a pharmacist and starting a new career.
“We tell them to treat every rotation like a job interview,” she said.
In the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the Jordan College of Fine Arts, requirements and procedures differ. One program that requires an internship and offers resources to its students in a structured way is the engineering dual degree program.
Jessica McCormick, who is the academic program coordinator for the program, said that the internship requirement for engineering students sets it apart from other engineering programs.
Each student is required to complete an internship while other universities’ programs may encourage but not require them. There are about 150 students in the program, and about 25 to 30 interned last summer.
At the end of their sophomore year, students have a one-hour career development class about how to look for internships, develop résumés and utilize to career fairs. They work with alumni in industry. Students have access to Internship and Career Services here and through IUPUI’s engineering office and Purdue’s West Lafayette campus.
“The resources are good before they go out, because they know how to present themselves, and we can help them put their best foot forward and help them make the best impression they can,” she said.
Gary Beaulieu, director of ICS, said that whether or not a student’s college has a program like those in COPHS or COB or in a supportive program in other colleges, the ICS office can help them. He said that while his office works on a “broader basis,” he doesn’t see much difference between working through a collegewide program or working with ICS.
“I think they’re equally as important and equally as good,” he said.
“Students, regardless of where they are and what major they are in, need to take advantage of all the opportunities presented to them that can help them get to where they want to go.”
ICS helps students prepare their résumés, research areas, network with employers who may have opportunities and practice interview skills. About 1,000 students a year utilize its services.
Beaulieu said the office staff also reach out to alumni and companies in order to create opportunities for all students in what he said is a competitive internship market.
“We’re here to help no matter what direction you want to go in,” he said. “And we have services for every student on campus.”