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Ohio State students gaining real-world experience, jobs through internships

Students work, live in cities big and small while building skills

The Ohio State University students in a variety of majors are gaining real-world experience in their chosen fields through internships at organizations across the country.

A career following graduation was top of mind for thousands of new alumni this weekend, and many of them will be leaving Ohio State with a job or connections made through internships developed through the university.

Students in the College of Education and Human Ecology (EHE) Hospitality Management program recently learned that the sky is the limit for their career options. Through EHE’s new partnership with NetJets Inc., the world’s largest private aviation company, which is headquartered in Columbus, students will receive mentoring through paid internships.

The collaboration opens a new hospitality track for students, said Anne Turpin, clinical associate professor of hospitality management.

“Many segments in the hospitality industry are experiencing demand that exceeds 2019,” she said. “Our goal is to build program enrollment and enhance our student experience. That translates into building a pipeline of workforce talent for companies like NetJets. Expanding traditional pathways in hospitality beyond hotels, food and beverage broadens diversity in student opportunities and long-term retention in the industry.”

The NetJets partnership includes a new endowed scholarship for EHE hospitality management students. Cameron Mitchell Restaurants will match the NetJets gift as part of a fund established last January to augment gifts of $100,000 or more for hospitality management undergraduate students.

The partnership also supports Ohio State’s Scarlet & Gray Advantage program aimed at reducing student debt. Student internships and work opportunities are key elements of the program so that students have more opportunities to earn money, develop job skills and prepare themselves for post-college careers.

To launch the new partnership, in September NetJets hosted a tour of the company’s facilities and fleet for hospitality management students and faculty.

Jose Cook (right) was among the hospitality management students who toured NetJets' fleet as part of the company's partnership with Ohio State's College of Education and Human Ecology.José Cook, a third-year student, said he discovered that hospitality management on chartered flights is a viable career path.

“I never knew that events (with catered meals) and aviation could be mixed,” he said, “so I’m interested in learning more.”

How students are finding internships

Ohio State students find internships through a variety of methods, whether through partnerships like the EHE’s NetJets collaboration, through an individual college’s career services administrators or by attending professional networking events.

Katarina Lechman, an information systems major who graduates this spring, said attending a virtual career fair in 2021 helped her land an internship for two consecutive summers as an information technology learning management specialist at the Cleveland headquarters of power management company Eaton. She helped implement customer relationship management software Salesforce.

“I was able to figure out the different business processes that needed to happen,” she said. “I was communicating how to use these softwares properly to the different users. I would have to learn what each user was supposed to be doing with the different software and then create training materials for them to effectively make sure everyone’s getting trained and supporting those business goals.”

How students work to stand out as applicants  

Internships, especially those at prestigious organizations, can be highly competitive. To stand out among the pool of applicants, prospective interns should prepare for interviews by studying up on the company and defining how they can help achieve organizational goals, said Kristen Orton.  

A marketing major with a fashion and retail studies minor, Orton said she researched the Ross retail chain, which helped her secure an internship as an assistant buyer with the company in New York City last summer.

“Researching the company and the position is really important,” said Orton, who expects to graduate this spring. “Showing your interviewer that you did research is really impressive because they know that you took your time out of your day to really pursue them and you want to learn more about the company, and I do think they really appreciate that.”

The university helps connect students to these opportunities. Buckeye Careers, part of the Office of Student Life, is a university-wide initiative designed to support students throughout their professional development. The organization hosts career fairs, virtual workshops to help students prepare a resume or job search strategies and connects students to the university’s alumni network.

Internships open a world of possibilities

Orton said spending the summer working for Ross in New York, where she had never visited before, helped her acclimate to the city where much of the fashion industry is based.

“Our team was only three people,” she said, “which was really nice since I felt like I got a lot of personal and hands-on experience, and I was able to really understand what they did every single day.”  

Sam DuckworthSam Duckworth said he’s applying what he’s learned thus far as a third-year biomedical engineering major while spending fall and spring semesters interning at the Brigham Research Institute’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

“What I think I really capitalized on here is learning the research process, starting with an idea, transferring it to a project with steps, and experience in creating those experiments and then following through with results,” he said. “And then once you get those results, figuring out, what does this actually mean? How does this contribute to what I’ve learned?”

Violet Tosler, a third-year communications major, said she honed her communications skills as a social media and marketing intern at Boka Restaurant Group in Chicago last summer. She assisted in coordinating photo shoots at restaurants and developed content for the company’s social media accounts.

“Every week, it was my job to plan out the (content) calendar using what was available to me, and then I would send it to the head media manager, who would approve it. And then I would send it out to the restaurants, and they would approve it,” she said. “That’s a lot of responsibility, so that’s a lot of great experience.”

While internships took Tosler, Duckworth and Orton to large metropolises, Ben Snyder’s internship last summer with Cargill Transportation and Logistics led him to Wichita, Kansas, a midsize city with a population of just under 400,000. Snyder, a logistics management major who graduates this spring, said Wichita has the close-knit feel of a small town, but he nonetheless gained international experience during his stint as a supply-chain intern.

Snyder completed a project that “primarily focused on stakeholder engagement between different parties across the globe within transportation and logistics,” he said. “The plan is for it to be for the entirety of Cargill.”

Internships lead to job offers

In some cases, internships can lead to full-time employment, enabling students to line up jobs before they graduate.

Orton said Ross offered her a job, but she ultimately accepted another offer as a merchandiser with Gap Inc. Before concluding her internship with Ross, she said she and the other interns in her department completed a final project that summed up the experience.

Orton and her colleagues shared “our personal suggestions on how to grow our specific department,” she said. “I really liked having that project because we were able to collect all the data and all the knowledge we used and give a final (report) and wrap up the whole summer with them.”

Lechman and Snyder said they’ve been hired by the companies they’ve interned for. The students said their internship experiences helped them acquire on-the-job skills that reinforce the knowledge they’ve gained at Ohio State.

“You are going to learn something new every day – most of the time, multiple somethings new every day that you’re not only going to be able to apply to your life,” Snyder said, “but apply to your future career and future opportunities with whatever you want to do in your life.”

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