There is no question that internships are an important part of a college student’s education, which is why Furman is committed to making sure every student has the opportunity to participate in a meaningful internship experience. So it was not unusual that Furman Engaged! on Tuesday closed with a panel discussion where students and employers discussed what makes for a successful internship.
The employers were represented by Kevin Byrne, president and CEO, The University Funding Foundation; John Cline, senior managing director, strategic communications, government affairs, FTI Consulting, Inc.; Tony McDade, executive director, United Ministries; and Shirley Ann Brown, HR generalist and internship coordinator, Scansource.
The students, all of whom had internships last summer, were Maddie De Pree (English), Rachel Goding (health sciences, poverty studies), Jack Schleicher (business and accounting), Brittany Wright (health sciences, public health), and Craig Yount (religion, economics).
So what does a Furman student need to know when preparing for that valuable internship opportunity? The experts provided these answers.
The top 5 things students had to say
- “You have to be prepared for the fact that things may be harder than you think. I was not treated like an intern, but as an employee who was expected to be involved right away. So you need to learn to be comfortable being uncomfortable.” — Jack Schleicher ’20
- “The expectations for the internship might not be what you expected, so you need to be self-motivated and be sure you and your supervisor are on the same page. It’s important to set goals and manage your time wisely. Don’t doubt yourself.”— Brittany Wright ’19
- “Invest in everything and everybody around you. Make friends and enjoy the experience of being part of something new. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. My internship was a profoundly maturing experience.” — Maddie De Pree ’20
- “I learned the importance of prioritizing my goals and looking to the people around me to provide wisdom and growth. I also learned how people can help you and how you might be able to them. My internship changed my idea of what I planned to do after graduation.” — Rachel Goding ’19
- “If you get criticism, don’t take it personally. Just trust yourself and get back to work. By the end of my internship, it turned out to be the most impactful experience of my life.” — Jack Schleicher ’20
The top 5 things employers want to see in an intern
- “What am I looking for in an intern? Two words. Curiosity and initiative. I don’t care about anything else. If you have those qualities, you will succeed.” — Kevin Byrne
- “We’re looking for talented people, for signs of a good future employee. We like to see interns who can think critically and communicate effectively. We especially like to see strong writing skills, but, unfortunately, we are seeing less and less of that.” — John Cline
- “Flexibility is a key skill. You don’t know what any particular day or experience will bring, so there are times you need to be able to see things from a different point of view. We want to stretch our interns’ experiences. I like folks from day one to be immersed in what we do.” —Tony McDade
- “You need a willingness to learn. Be inquisitive and ask questions. Be able to communicate effectively. I want our interns to have high expectations when they come to us, because we’re going to have expectations for them.” — Shirley Ann Brown
- An internship is probably never what you imagine. Don’t expect a warm, cuddly welcome on your first day. People are busy and you need to adjust to that. Jump in the river with them and get to learn our business.” — John Cline