Business students reflect on value of internship experiencesDecember 8, 2020
Some of the most important lessons Finlandia’s International School of Business students learn don’t come from the classroom. They happen during internships.
According to one source, only 12 percent of American business schools require their students to participate in an internship. Finlandia BBA students are in this unique group as most complete an internship during their junior or senior year. In some cases, if the student has not been able to land an internship for various reasons, they may opt instead to do a senior project under the guidance of their academic advisor. For example, COVID-19 has made it more difficult to find internships. However, the vast majority do undertake an internship as part of their FinnU BBA.
For an internship position to be accepted, the student must demonstrate that the position will utilize the student’s BBA courses and overall education. Fetching coffee and filing papers are not acceptable. Internships must be a minimum of 150 hours and are typically off campus. A few notable exceptions have been positions with Finlandia’s Business Office, Marketing & Communications and Athletics. Internships are either performed locally during the academic year, or in many cases, during the summer as many students find positions in their hometowns. Due to both COVID-19 and the widespread availability of communication technologies such as Zoom, more internships are being done remotely. We asked two students, Lillian Johnson and Sara Bendix, about their internship experiences and how they impacted their education.
Lillian Johnson – Somero Enterprises
Lillian Johnson, a Management and Entrepreneurship major graduating in December 2020, completed her internship in the spring of 2020 for Somero Enterprises. Based in Atlantic Mine, Mich., Somero Enterprises is a global concrete engineering company. They manufacture laser screed machinery used in leveling concrete. For example, their machines are used for making floors for large facilities, like grocery stores or stadiums. They are a global company with headquarters in the US, plus offices in the United Kingdom, China and India. Their machines are in operation all over the world.
After hearing a presentation in her Human Resource Management course by Hanna Axley-Mills from Somero’s human resources department, Johnson decided to contact Axley-Mills about an internship opportunity. It took a few months, but one opened up beginning in January 2020. Her internship as a Human Resources assistant lasted just over three months from January 24, 2020 to April 9, 2020.
“Although I never really thought about going for a career in HR, I thought it would be an interesting experience and teach me important business skills,” said Johnson. “I someday hope to take over my parent’s small bakery here in Hancock, Amy J’s Pasty & Bake Shop, so I decided some knowledge of human resources would be tremendously beneficial.”
Johnson’s main tasks included making weekly efficiency reports, updating employee files, preparing for onboarding employees and more.
“I gained a lot of confidence through the internship,” said Johnson. “This was especially true when the COVID-19 outbreak in early March forced me to work from home. I could no longer rely on my supervisor, Hanna Axley-Mills, being immediately available to answer any questions I might have. I had to work through issues on my own. I was forced to learn how to manage change.”
In addition, Lilly mentioned that, because employees regularly came to HR with a variety of issues, she also gained a lot of insight into managing people. She was also able to develop her spreadsheet skills as she utilized Excel on a daily basis. Finally, being a global company, she had to take into account time differences when contacting and communicating with people from different time zones.
“This experience was one of my favorites while working towards my Bachelors in Business Administration,” said Johnson. “I really enjoyed being forced to work in an actual business environment. In-class instruction is helpful, but actually working in a business environment teaches you much more. I learned plenty of skills that I’m sure will help me in my future career. I am thankful for the experience I got during my internship at Somero Enterprises.”
Sara Bendix – Aspirus Keewenaw
This summer and early fall, Sara Bendix, a Healthcare Management major completed her internship in the human resources department of Aspirus Keweenaw, a local healthcare provider with headquarters in Wausau, Wis. Bendix worked out of the Human Resources department based in the Aspirus Keweenaw Hospital in Laurium, Mich.
Her duties included updating the employee database, gathering payroll data like working hours, vacation info, screening resumes and application forms, updating job boards and social media, and reviewing and distributing company policies in both digital and hard copy formats.
“I gained a lot of confidence in communicating with others,” said Bendix. “I was able to regularly network with management and other key people in the organization. Even learning the vocabulary of the healthcare field was important for me.”
Her courses at Finlandia including Public Speaking, Human Resource Management, Leadership and Team Skills and her Healthcare Management courses were all important in helping her successfully complete her tasks. Business Computing Applications was especially helpful as she did a lot of data recording.
Bendix will be graduating at the end of the Fall 2020 semester. Even with classes not officially over, Bendix already has a job lined up and plans for the future.
“I’ve relocated to Florida and I just started working in a phlebotomist’s office,” said Bendix. “I’ve also been accepted into the Healthcare Management master’s program at Central Florida University, and I plan to begin next fall.”
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