College students have had to face many problems over the years. The issues range from staying up late to getting to class on time the following day, balancing rigorous courses and a hectic social calendar, and making sure that their backpack never runs out of college-student snacks.
But perhaps the issue that concerns college students the most is also the most important: How do I get a job after graduation? And more specifically, that question is narrowed to this: It seems every potential employer wants to hire someone with experience, but as a student, how do you get that experience without a job?
There are, however, opportunities for students to gain that valuable workplace experience. One such opportunity is the Rankin College of Business Internship Program at Southern Arkansas University. The Internship Program works with students each semester, placing them in professional job settings in their degree field. That experience gives students a head start on their careers.
Six College of Business students took part as interns during the spring semester, and nine more completed internships this summer. In addition, four graduate students in the College of Business also participated in internships this summer.
One of those students is Naija White, who participated in the Tjuanna Byrd Internship Program in the summers of 2021 and 2022. The Tjuanna Byrd program is for women of color who are pursuing a degree in a STEM field. White, a 2019 Lafayette County High School graduate, interned at Windstream in North Little Rock in 2021. Her time there saw her attending company meetings, shadowing coding assignments, and fixing bugs on the Windstream website.
After earning her degree in information systems in May of 2022, White again participated in the program. Her last internship was with Stone Bank in Little Rock as an IT Support Representative. White said she would recommend the SAU internship program to other students in the College of Business. “It’s a great program. It opened a lot of different doors for me,” said White. “It really helps you network with other interns and with professionals. It gives you knowledge in the field you want to pursue.”
Faith Lonigro used her experience in the Internship program to help land her first job following graduation. Faith worked in the Logistics Department for J.B. Hunt in northwest Arkansas, where she spent half her time shadowing other employees and the rest working with brokers and customer representatives. “I really enjoyed my time at J.B. Hunt,” said Faith. “They were really helpful and nice, and I got experience on the supply chain side.”
Faith graduated from SAU in December 2021 with a degree in supply chain management. With her degree earned in the classroom and experience earned on the job, she landed a job with Lanxess in El Dorado, where she works with the production schedule for the company. “My internship helped me with my job search and getting my first job,” said Faith. “If I hadn’t had the internship, I probably wouldn’t be here.”
Desiah Williams, a junior in the Rankin College of Business, participated in the Internship Program for the first time this summer. Like White, she also earned a spot in the Tjuanna Byrd Summer Internship Program. Desiah, a 2019 graduate of Bearden High School, completed an internship with Arvest Bank in Rogers, AR, in the IT and security department.
Dr. Robin Sronce, dean of the Rankin College of Business, believes the Internship Program is a great program that helps students move toward the careers they want. “We’re very proud of our Internship Program,” said Sronce. “It allows the Rankin College of Business to work with both businesses and our students. And it’s an opportunity for our students to gain invaluable workplace experience.”