Kade Sharkey, a junior majoring in economics and international studies, spent 15 days in July shadowing top executives of Shanghai Tianan in China. Shanghai Tianan is a textile company seeking to expand operations, and Sharkey was there learning the “anatomy of international commerce.” Part of his lessons included visiting 15 factories in six cities, along with attending trade shows.
For Paige Benson, a senior finance major, 10 summer weeks in New York City, working at IPG Mediabrands, a part of Interpublic Group, meant playing a role in financial planning and analysis. IPG has 70-plus clients, including Lego, Revlon, Arby’s and Victoria Secret, and specializes in consumer advertising, digital marketing, communications planning and media buying, public relations and specialty marketing. There, Benson “worked with really intelligent people and learned a lot from them.”Sharkey and Benson were two of 20 students who exhibited posters and presented their experiences to fellow students as part of Stetson’s Internship Showcase, Nov. 2 at the duPont-Ball Library on campus. A total of 95 students attended to view the exhibits, which also were judged by eight faculty members.
The purpose of the event was to allow students to share their internship experiences with the campus community, according to Christine Arias, assistant director of Stetson’s Career and Professional Development, Internships. In doing so, those students have the “opportunity to inspire others to pursue similar opportunities and share their expertise” in how to make that happen, Arias said
“The showcase also allows our campus community the opportunity to experience the immense diversity of academically rigorous experiential learning opportunities that current students are completing — from China to right here in Volusia County,” Arias explained. “Lastly, it is important that students start talking about these valuable experiences with peers and campus leaders in order to gain confidence in communicating their added value to future employers and graduate schools.”
Sharkey called his experience “eye-opening,” noting that while many things are different in China, “at the same time there are many aspects that mirror our Western culture. It was actually very fascinating.”
‘It gave me the opportunity to almost piece together the puzzle,” he added. “When I go out and shop for these products, it never once clicks in my head the process it takes to actually get the product from point A to point B to point C, which is being available to all consumers.
“I think it gives me a big advantage going into a world that is largely dominated by business culture. Just having that knowledge of international commerce, having that experience and having the opportunity to work with people all across will help me.”
Benson, from New Jersey, commuted into Manhattan daily from her home and learned about the challenges of fast-paced, full-time work. “The 9-to-5 aspect is invaluable,” Benson said. “I feel like in the classroom it’s hard to get that structure, like what it feels like to actually work a job. I think internships are really important.”
In turn, Benson wanted to share her story. “I worked for a very cool company and I got to do very cool things,” she added. “I love talking about this [experience]. It’s great to teach other students. They ask, ‘So, how did you get this, how do I do this?’”
James Aagaard also took a bite out of the Big Apple during seven weeks over the summer. A junior majoring in organ performance, Aagaard performed music for Sunday morning worship services, labeling it “an amazing experience.” Also, he was able to peer behind the curtains at rehearsals and planning sessions, while helping to organize the church’s music library. Notably, he made initial contact with the church when its music director gave an organ concert at Stetson when Aagaard was a first-year student.
“My organ instructor [at Stetson] is great. I learn a lot of things. … But what I did here is specifically leading the congregation into things, which is ultimately very applicable to what I’ll be doing as a career,” Aagaard said.
Kaitlyn Miller trekked all the way to Sydney, Australia, and returned home three months later with newfound passion for a career in human resources. The senior communications major interned at Pacific Training Group, which provides vocational education and training in hospitality, event management, leadership and management, and travel and tourism.
Miller learned about herself, too. At the Internship Showcase, she wanted to let others know that if she can do it, they can do it too. Or, in this case, “If I can travel, they can travel.”
“I really felt comfortable and confident in my field, and that’s something I strive for other people to experience, so they know their education is going toward their career,” Miller said.
Such words hit home with Tatiana Izquierdo, a first-semester student from Orlando who is majoring in business but exploring her options.
“You’re getting what students experienced,” Izquierdo said about the event. “Listening to them you learn ‘Oh, this is how it’s probably going to be.’ We’re all on the same level as college kids. We have the same mindset. I learned a lot.”