An Internship Program Opens A Student's Career Possibilities
An internship is similar to test driving a car: it offers you a chance to see if a particular career path is for you or if a specific company is the right fit. It also gives the company a chance to evaluate new personnel through meaningful assignments—something they can’t do with just an interview and résumé.
Sandyn Wright, a senior entrepreneurship major, is familiar with the expectations of landing an internship. He knew it was a necessary step toward getting his dream job. As a former Marine, he is well acquainted with the way government agencies operate, and he wanted to gain access to one of these agencies and its internship program. It took six months of intensive interviewing for Wright to land an internship . He is currently working at the federal Food and Drug Administration’s White Oak, Md. campus.
Wright pursued his internship by using the resources that were available to him. One of them was an executive order signed by President Obama in 2010, entitled “Recruiting and Hiring Students and Recent Graduates.” This directive established two new programs and modified another. The internship program that Wright is part of is a segment of an initiative called the Pathways Programs, a program designed to attract and prepare worthy candidates for agency positions.
“My time in the Marines gave me a glimpse into the way a government agency operates,” Wright said. “I am quite comfortable in that environment. But what I liked most about this opportunity is I might be considered for a career position if they are pleased by my job performance. If I work hard, I may just earn a full time position at the agency—an agency I respect—with responsibilities that I am prepared to do.”
Wright was selected from a pool of about 300 applicants, many of whom were graduate students. He believes that his responses during an interview in which he analyzed a case study and shared his thoughts about it gave him an edge.
“I think I articulated the answer they wanted but I went on to spark a dialog among the interviewers. I posed questions to them and brought forth a thoughtful dialog. It is something people do on teams all the time, I think they appreciated it,” he said.
In his internship, Wright has the chance to shadow agency administrators and incorporate classroom material into the position.
“We were analyzing a problem using MS Excel and the next day I was in Prof. Bardossy’s stat class and there it was—the formula we used to figure out the problem at the FDA. It is great to see the real-world in the classroom,” he said.
Dean Darlene Smith agrees that internships provide opportunities for students to grow and discover their managerial talents.
“The reality is, internships are the fast track to full-time employment,” Smith said. Darlene Smith “Students who participate in an internship are gaining relevant work experience. Even if it is not a full-time job they are seeking it helps them build their résumé. It tells future employers that this person is employable. Of course one of the questions that we always pose to employers when we meet with them—‘Are you hiring interns?’ I’m so pleased that we’ve put in place the tools to help students with internships; it is up to them to seize the opportunities in front of them.”
As for Wright, he is looking forward to graduating in the spring and starting his career—a career that no doubt received a boost through his internship.