Global business leadership students learn about the importance of internships

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February 19, 2018

By Mike Killeen

internship panel

SJU graduate Ben Martynec '15, CSB graduate Christie Lipari '15 and CSB senior Morgan Merritt spoke to global business leadership students Feb. 9.

Photo: Jehnah Benalshaikh '18

The mileage between the College of Saint Benedict and Target headquarters in downtown Minneapolis is 69 miles. It’s 84 miles between Saint John’s University and Best Buy headquarters in Richfield, Minnesota.

Obviously, CSB and SJU aren’t located next door to corporations based in the Twin Cities.

But at an event for sophomore global business leadership (GBUS) students Feb. 9 at SJU, current students found that the distance is no obstacle for finding great internships.

Seven graduates of CSB and SJU spoke to the GBUS students about the importance of internships and how to stand out when applying for them.

Global business leadership majors are required to complete four credits of experiential learning via internship (the most popular method), or by running an on-campus business through the global business leadership practicum course.

“We have about 70 summer interns that are earning academic credit each summer,” said Steve Schwarz, visiting assistant professor of global business leadership at CSB and SJU. “Faculty supervise these internships, and try to visit each site during the summer to create a personal relationship with these organizations.”

Schwarz said the most popular internship tasks are marketing, sales and logistics. Of late, there has been an increase in digital marketing internships. About 75 percent of those internships take place in the Twin Cities, he added.

Those opportunities come at a variety of businesses – large companies like 3M, Target, Best Buy, CH Robinson, Optum, Northwestern Mutual and State Farm; mid-sized businesses like Geronimo Energy, WCCO, KSTP, Rapala, the St. Paul Chamber of Commerce and Youthworks; and advertising agencies like Fallon, Periscope, Rocket 55 and Mackey Creative.

There are also internship opportunities in the St. Cloud area with companies like Blattner Energy, Granite Logistics, Dayta Marketing, the Central Minnesota Credit Union and Anderson Trucking Services.

Schwarz told the sophomores that “now is the time” to start thinking about a summer internship in 2019.

“Instead of lifeguarding for the fifth summer in a row, maybe you should consider pursuing an opportunity that relates to your degree,” Schwarz said.    

Overall at CSB and SJU, summer internships in 2017 totaled 132, said Laura Hammond, assistant director of Experience and Professional Development (XPD) at CSB and SJU. For the entire 2016-17 academic year (including the summer of 2017), there were 211 internships.

Various academic departments on campus support internships through a variety of ways, Hammond said. For example, the Peace Studies Department has group advising sessions with pizza; the History Department has offered a panel discussion. Other departments function on a one-to-one basis with student advising, or refer their students to the XPD office.

“No other department has the sophomore cohort and common seminar days like GBUS has,” Hammond said. “A captive audience and a common day to share information is unique and a helpful advising tool for a topic such as internships and professional development.”

The XPD office offers the Career Expo each fall on campus, and is currently prepping students for the Minnesota Private Colleges’ Job and Internship Fair on Tuesday, Feb. 27, at the Minneapolis Convention Center. The office also offers coaching sessions, E-Link (an online “want ad” for full-time jobs, internships and volunteer opportunities) and other internship strategies, including connecting with CSB and SJU graduates in the workplace – more commonly known as the Bennie-Johnnie Network.

All academic interns must complete a final self-reflection as their internship wraps up. The XPD Office uses standards set by the National Association of Colleges and Employers to make sure interns are receiving the skills they need to get a full-time job when they graduate, Hammond said.

“Students say they receive enough support from their faculty moderator, XPD and their site supervisor,” Hammond said. “They’ve also gotten to grow their skills in a number of ways and build networks, as well as connections between their classroom learning and the real world.”

Building connections was a key point of what the graduates told the sophomores.

“Internships overall are a good opportunity to figure what you like and don’t like,” said Hannah Lynch '17, a GBUS major who is now working at Optum after participating in several internships throughout her collegiate career. “Lean into the networking. There are so many people out there who are willing to help you, or just hold informative interviews with you.”