Students express concern with internship program

JEFF STANICH
STAFF REPORTER

Butler University’s College of Business is known as one of the best in the country in multiple categories.
Bloomberg Businessweek distinguishes the internship program as the 12th-best in the nation, according to the COB section of Butler’s website.
However, some students don’t believe the college deserves this high ranking.
Several seniors who have already completed internships for the college said the system is full of flaws.
Senior Lynsey Sell had an internship at ExactTarget, a digital marketing software company in downtown Indianapolis, where she worked 20 hours per week.
While working, she had to do the academic work the COB requires for an internship, which includes four papers and one final presentation about the student’s experiences.
“The papers were so broad and overwhelming,” Sell said. “There is an inconsistency with what different professors want to see us complete.”
Senior James Huber said the papers were to provide an over-arching, thorough analysis of the company or business for which the student worked. He also said each paper was to be cited with six different business textbooks.
“I have never taken six business courses in the same semester, so why do I have to cite six different sources for one paper?” Huber said. “It’s just an extra burden that doesn’t need to be there.”
Sell completed her internship this summer, meaning she had to pay $1,400 for the three credits.
With the cost for credits, rent and transportation over the summer, Sell said she barely broke even with what she earned from her internship.
“I wish they could have deferred the billing until the fall when my scholarship could have helped,” Sell said, “but they don’t allow that.”
Finance professor Bill Templeton serves as associate dean of careers and undergraduate programs and works with students on their internships.
He says students take summer internships even though tuition would most likely cover the cost for credits during the academic year.
“Name another course where you don’t pay tuition,” Templeton said.
However, several students believe it is unrealistic for the COB to expect students to maintain good grades and stay involved on campus while completing 300 hours for an internship and several academic papers for credit.
“That’s a choice,” Templeton said. “You have three regular semesters to get internships in. We don’t require students to do one over the summer.”
In the COB, students must wait until they are juniors to complete an internship.
Sell said the criteria for the papers require students to list their career goals. Because of that, she said she believes the grades need to be pass or fail, not letter grades.
“I don’t know how someone can get a better grade than I can based on our different careers goals,” Sell said.
Templeton said he has heard these concerns from the students and is open to hearing more, but he believes the current system deserves its high ranking.
“Just because some students aren’t happy does not mean most students feel the same,” Templeton said. “Their views do not reflect the majority.”
Huber said his concerns are shared with multiple people with the same problem, but those in charge do not pay attention.
“My concerns have been listened to and agreed upon by people who cannot make a change,” Huber said. “But when it comes to the head of the
program, he hears them but does not listen.”
Sell said she has little doubt she will benefit from her experience, but believes there are plenty of areas where the college can better focus on the students.
“What they do is more for the rankings,” Sell said. “They need to step back and look at the students.”

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One Comment;

  1. Joe Lawry said:

    When Professor Templeton says that a student has three semesters to complete an internship during the school year, what does that mean exactly? Are those three semesters devoted to a single internship, or are students required to pursue multiple opportunities? This is just a point of clarification for readers like me who are unfamiliar with the COB’s internship program.

    Regardless of what the program entails, however, I think these students are being put between a rock and a hard place. It sounds to me like the COB needs to re-evaluate their program. If Ms. Sells is correct in her assertion that the COB only cares about their metrics, then wouldn’t the program benefit from looser requirements that would make the students happier?

    If I had to choose between paying for my internship over the summer and balancing that internship during the school year with a full course load, then I’d go with the third option: changing majors and pursuing an internship when I’m ready for it. Students should pursue such opportunities purely out of interest and not because they’re required.

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