How to Become a Fearless Intern

IMG_2357 (1)Although my classes at the School of Business Administration taught me the skills I needed, it wasn’t until I began my first internship that I was able to truly put these skills to use. Interning provided me the first-hand perspective to see what life in the professional world would be like. Internships can be difficult and time-intensive, yes, but they also give you an important peek into your future career, as well as the ability to augment your education thus far.

I started my first internship last spring. I was well into my marketing classes and had taken my first advertising class. That first advertising class was amazing; listening to my professor, I could feel my skin prickle and my eyes open wider. And when my teacher mentioned FIR, the student-run advertising agency on campus, I jumped at the chance to apply. By interning at FIR, students have the opportunity to work for real-life clients and solve real-life problems. You’re able to finally connect all of the skills that you’ve learned in your advertising and marketing classes, and apply them in actual situations. But, because you are working for real businesses, the challenges can be difficult and the stakes higher. My first term interning at FIR was the most difficult; my team and I were completing a project that had been initiated by another team and it felt at times like nothing could go right! Deadlines had to be pushed and there were many last-minute alterations to plans. But by the time that finals week rolled around, my team and I were able to finish the project. Whew! And although my first term with FIR was challenging and, at times, stressful, I knew that I had learned so much and that I had gotten a little taste of what it would be like to work at a fast-paced advertising agency.

I began my second internship only this term. I had decided to quit my retail job and was searching CareerConnect for a job on campus when I stumbled upon a marketing internship post from the Business Outreach Program. PSU’s Business Outreach Program, or BOP, connects small business owners to resources that can help them grow their business while providing students opportunities to learn and practice their skills. Through my role as marketing intern, I am able to work with small business owners and be a marketing resource for them. I feel that many of the skills that I learned interning at FIR are skills that I utilize interning for the BOP, even though the two internships are different. Each internship has helped me to grow in different ways and to learn new skills.

I spoke with Nga Ho and Cori Batey to learn a little bit more about the internship opportunities on campus. Nga and Cori are both graduate students who are working to promote internships at PSU. We discussed internship opportunities on campus and why interning while you’re in school can help you get a job. Cori told me, “For those who are still figuring out what they want to do after graduation, interning can allow students to try out different roles and industries and look for the best fit. For those who already have a specific focus, interning is the best way to get real world experience and make real connections, both of which are instrumental in finding work after graduation.” Cori also told me about the School of Business Administration Pinterest account she runs. The SBA Pinterest account is full of information to help students find internships, such as how to prepare for an internship interview. Nga told me more about the importance of internships.

“I wish more students see the value of an internship, and I’d like to see more students take advantage of such opportunities. It shouldn’t be just something to checkmark off a list, or to do it just because someone says you should. As students we sometimes just focus on getting the A’s, but the experience you get from an internship is another piece that will help lead students to success.”

Nga and Cori told me so much that I can’t fit it all in this article. To learn more, check out the SBA Pinterest page and the online internship program they’re helping to promote.

Between work, school, family, and all the other things that students have going on in their lives, it’s difficult to even think about fitting an internship in. But the experience that you gain and the skills that you learn are so unique and, honestly, are skills that can only be taught outside of the classroom. Internships are demanding and challenging, yes, but they help us to get one step closer to achieving our future career. To learn more about internship opportunities on campus or what do to once you’re ready to apply for an internship, click here. Good luck!

~Mckenzie Miller ’15, Fearless Business Student

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Fearless Changemaker Patrick Ditty

patrick ditty

Working full-time, completing a bachelor’s degree, and raising five kids – sounds impossible right? Portland State student Patrick Ditty balances work, school, and family with the assistance of PSU’s Online Bachelor’s Degree program. In this week’s post, Patrick, a US Veteran, tells us all about his experience through the Online Business Degree program and working towards being a Social Entrepreneur.

After moving with his family to Oregon, Patrick looked for work in heavy-equipment machinery, a field in which he had been working for 10 years. Patrick, a United States veteran, served in the Marine Corps from 1998-2004. In Patrick’s past job experiences, a degree had not been required to operate in this profession, but, in Oregon, most called for a college degree. He began to work for Caterpillar, which had a program in which workers could alternate terms of working for the company and going to school. At first, Patrick was nervous to go back to school, knowing that he may be older than other students, but he soon found out that it wasn’t that “scary.” After graduating from the Caterpillar program, Patrick was impressed with the progress that he had been making with his education, and wanted to see how far his education could take him, so he began to make plans to attend Portland State University.  After seeing an advisor at PSU, he realized that almost none of his credits that he had earned through the Caterpillar program would transfer. This setback didn’t stop Patrick from forging forward. Patrick started taking night classes at Portland Community College so that he could continue to work full-time. He was determined, though that didn’t mean he wasn’t worried about being able to complete his degree. Between his work and family obligations, reaching the finish line seemed a difficult feat.  When he learned about PSU’s Online Bachelor’s Degree in Business, he applied right away and was admitted to the program. Patrick found that the option to complete his degree fully online was a “lifesaver” – he could go to school and work, and still have time left to spend with his family. He could come home from work, and still have time to do his homework and be an active part of his children’s lives. And, to his surprise, completing an online degree didn’t mean sacrificing career and personal growth. The high touch nature of the program introduced Patrick to different industries and business practices which led Patrick to the realization that he wanted to move away from his current profession, and PSU’s Online Business Degree not only gave him the tools to do so, but also the confidence.

One of the catalysts for this life-changing decision happened when Patrick stumbled upon the Social Entrepreneurship Certificate – a unique opportunity for online business student that allows students to learn about social and environmental issues that they find important, and then equips students with the skills and knowledge necessary to impart change in the community by utilizing the power of business. The classes in the Social Entrepreneurship Certificate program opened up a new world for Patrick.

 “Social entrepreneurship was a 180 from what I was interested in. As I progressed through the classes, [the class] gave me a new direction. You can earn a paycheck and still do something good at the same time.”

The concept of social entrepreneurship is a cornerstone of the Online Business Degree program, so Patrick also found that the classes in the Certificate program expanded upon many of his previous classes, and provided a whole new method of understanding. The way of learning that Patrick developed through the Social Entrepreneurship program helped him to “think outside the box” in his classes, as well as in his daily life.

So how did Patrick manage to go to school, work full-time, and still spend time with his family? Patrick advises that those who wish to pursue PSU’s Online Business Degree schedule their time well – be accountable for everything that you do. Don’t procrastinate on assignments, and be prepared to work hard for your education. Patrick also suggests that students keep an open mind.

“Soak it all up and get the most.”

And, lastly, fearless – what does it mean to Patrick?

“The more open that you can be to new ideas – that would be my definition of fearless. The more close-minded are you, the less likely you will ever be able to change anything.”

Inspired by Patrick? Want to become a Fearless Changemaker yourself? Click here to learn more about the Social Entrepreneurship certificate.

And if you’re looking for a better way to incorporate college into your busy life, click here to learn about PSU’s Online Business Degree program.

~Mckenzie Miller ’15, Fearless Business Student