Heitor Vinci and Kyna Grubb
Members of the Ketner School of Business (KSOB) Advisory Board literally paid it forward when they put their money where their idea was. Recognizing that real workplace experience is the best way for students to prepare for and finalize their career plans, board members each made contributions to a fund that allows KSOB students to receive stipends for their internships.
Monies contributed thus far to the new KSOB Internship Fund total $16,550 with a significant portion coming from Catawba Trustee Chester A. "Junie" Michael III '70 to be used as matching funds. Some of those monies, $5,000, was distributed this past summer to six different KSOB students. Students who gained helpful, real world experience at local organizations included Tyler Hamilton at Rowan-Salisbury Chamber of Commerce, Chloe Bully at Nazareth Children's Home, Averi Mauney at United Way of Salisbury Rowan, Heitor Vinci at Rowan Helping Ministries, Justin Stoner at Community Care Clinic and Tyler Peart at WSAT Memories 1280.
Heitor Vinci, a senior business major from Brazil, said of his internship at Rowan Helping Ministries: "To me it was important to have the stipend so I could pay for my summer living expenses here in Salisbury. My internship ended up not being an expense and the experience was really, really beneficial.
Working for Rowan Helping Ministries was fantastic. I got to learn the whole process there, not just one area of the ministry. I got to help people and gain valuable experience all at the same time."
Vinci advises future students participating in similar internships "to get involved and talk to as many people as possible" since "the goal is the experience and networking."
Chloe Bully, a senior business major from Belgium who interned at Nazareth Children's Home, noted that her experience "helped me improve my communications skills since I spent a lot of time in advertising working with and meeting many people there and in the community."
Bully who plans a career in marketing or advertising said, "I learned a lot about being in the work environment and that when you begin, you start doing a little bit of everything." Her advice to future students is "to be ready to do whatever is asked and with a caring attitude."
According to Dr. Pam Thompson, dean of the Ketner School of Business and associate professor of business, most students need to hold summer jobs to help earn money to pay for their college expenses, but often the jobs they land do not provide them with experience applicable to their academic majors. The stipends the KSOB Internship Fund provides, she said, solve this problem, especially for students who want to gain experience working in a non-profit setting.
"Experiential learning is a required component of the Ketner School of Business core classes for the B.S. degree in Business, all concentrations," Thompson said. "This requirement includes an external internship and one hour per week classroom study on ‘soft skills' to include effective networking, email etiquette, resume development, mock interviews, manners at work, and ethics.
"Frequently, the top internship opportunities are low paid or unpaid, and many students have difficulty affording to take these. We believe in the value of internships for our students and do not want to see any student have to turn down an opportunity to gain experience due to financial reasons. We are very proud and appreciative of the work done to get this fund off the ground!"
Kyna Grubb, executive director of Rowan Helping Ministries, praised the internship fund, recognizing that it created a win-win situation her non-profit and Catawba students. "Participating in the Catawba College internship program has been a wonderful experience for us. We have been able to tap into the talents and skills of business majors to develop internal auditing procedures and marketing plans for our organization.
"Every penny is precious to a nonprofit. We have accomplished important projects at no cost to us because of gifts given to Catawba for this program. At the same time, the students have gained practical business skills and exposure to pressing societal issues. I believe the internship program has been an important partnership for all those involved."
KSOB Advisory Board chair, Dr. Charles Muse '68 of Florence, S.C., spearheaded the fundraising effort on the board and his efforts also garnered contributions from every KSOB faculty member.
"Many of our students participate in internships at not for profit organizations that are unable to provide them with a salary or any expense reimbursement for driving back and forth to their work site. The monies that we have raised through donations from our board, alumni and others help us provide funds to defray the expenses the students incurred," Muse said.
KSOB Board member Susan Cloninger, chair of the KSOB Advisory Board's Fundraising Committee, lauded the board's initiative and encouraged graduates and supporters of the Ketner School of Business to keep making contributions to the Internship Fund.
As the KSOB Internship Fund continues to grow, Catawba's Career Services Director Robin Perry hopes to place even more students during summer 2015 and beyond. "We help students build their resumes with experience, in addition to building relationships with a variety of executives and community leaders," Perry explained. "Making connections and networking are additional advantages of these internships.
"We look forward to the continued growth this fund thanks to generous donors and the chance to provide opportunities for as many students as possible. Collectively, we make a difference in our students' lives by helping them be even better prepared for life after college."
Catawba senior Tyler Hamilton a recipient of the summer 2014 internship support affirmed his positive experience working with the Rowan Chamber of Commerce. "I met so many people and was able to do a variety of different tasks and attend many business meetings. I learned about the value of the Chamber and contributed ideas on how the Chamber can increase awareness with youth community members.
"You may think you are capable with public speaking and networking, but you don't really know until you have to get out there and promote a business or event! I grew tremendously in my skills and personal confidence by helping to market events, database support, phone promotion, and networking at Chamber of Commerce functions as a part of my job responsibilities."
Businesses interested in providing internship opportunities can e-mail Robin Perry at email@example.com. More information on the Business School internship program can be found at: www.catawba.edu/internksob.