by Amanda AlexanderLock Haven University is a member of the Pennsylvania State
System of Higher Education (PASSHE), the largest provider of higher education in
the commonwealth. Its 14 universities offer more than 250 degree and certificate
programs in more than 120 areas of study. Nearly 405,000 system alumni live and
work in Pennsylvania.
LOCK HAVEN, Pa. - Employers from five different companies came together to offer advice about internships to business administration and accounting students at an internship panel discussion in Lock Haven University’s Hamblin Hall of Flags Thursday afternoon. The panel took place at 1 p.m. and ended with an open question-and-answer session for students.
Each employer had a unique point of view to offer students who are looking for internships in the business administration and accounting fields. Matt Gartner, of Impact Advertising in Williamsport, emphasized the importance of finding an internship in today’s competitive job market. “I do not hire any students out of school that have not had an internship,” he said. “You must have an internship.”
Pat Geedy, of the State Civil Service Commission, shared her own internship experience with the students and explained how it helped her in her job search. “The experiences I gathered from being an intern, you can’t replace by being in the classroom,” she said. She added that the State Civil Service Commission has hired “many, many interns” after they completed their internships. Geedy said an internship is a great transition from school to the workforce and gives students valuable real life experience.
This sentiment was repeated by Lock Haven alum Andrew Gibbons, of Evangelical Hospital, who worked as an intern at Lock Haven hospital his senior year and was then offered a full-time job as soon as he graduated. He said his internship was instrumental in his career path.
“I don’t think I would have been given that opportunity had I not done the internship,” he said, adding that his internship helped him define his career path and know for sure what he wanted to do. He said students can gain valuable experience from internships whether they are paid or not. “Students might shy away if it’s not paid but it’s still worth it. Mine was unpaid,” Gibbons said.
Michelle Earnest, of the Lock Haven branch of the Public School Employees’ Retirement System, said internships are great for students because “they get to see how the real world works.” While school gives students the fundamentals, an internship gives them exposure to their future career but with the safety and security of a learning experience rather than a real job, Earnest said.
The panelists also described to students some of the qualities they look for in a potential intern. Gartner told students that enthusiasm is a key attribute of a great intern. “The more effort you put into an internship the more you get out of it,” he said. Gartner also said that one of the most important qualities an intern can possess is willingness to learn. “Make the effort. Show that you’re really concerned about what you’re learning,” he said.
Earnest told students that communication skills are absolutely vital. She said that in the search for interns she is looking “most of all for someone who is professional, well-spoken and able to communicate.”
Geedy said the State Civil Service Commission looks for “individuals who are bright, like to do things a little differently, have new ideas, are interested in the organization and have some future goals.” She also said the abilities to work well with others and learn from them are great skills for interns to possess.
The panelists advised students to do their homework before heading in on the first day of an internship. Kevin Stahl, of Northwestern Mutual Financial Services, told students to make sure they prepare by researching the company beforehand, knowing what the company does and what a student’s potential job as an intern would entail.
For more information on hosting an intern from Lock Haven University, visit http://www.lhup.edu/career/Internships/InternshipsHomePage.htm or call 570-484-2247.