Internships Give RIC Students Critical Workplace Skills
Cintas Corporation Stockroom Supervisor William Lightell joins RIC intern Fernando Taveras and Cintas Corporation Production Manager Carlos Resende at the company's Cumberland location.
RIC management major Fernando Taveras knows exactly where he’s going when he completes his undergraduate degree.
While interning at Cintas Corporation, a designer and manufacturer of corporate identity uniforms throughout North America, he accepted a full-time position there as stockroom manager. He’ll begin his job upon graduation in spring 2015.
“I’ve been working hard, and it’s a great feeling to have that secure job waiting for me,” Taveras said.
As an intern, Taveras has conducted a materials cost analysis and is working on an account organization system for the company partners who will be his bosses next year.
“Through this internship, I’ve been able to apply what I’ve learned in school to a real-world work environment. It’s been a great experience,” he said.
Taveras is among the many students benefitting from RIC’s efforts to increase internship opportunities. Lawrence Wilson, executive director of economic and leadership development, said internships provide students critical experiential learning opportunities through which they develop career skills most in demand by today’s employers, including communication, adaptability, problem-solving and team work.
“Our students have the academic achievement, professionalism and tenacity to contribute significantly to corporations as well as nonprofit and government organizations,” Wilson said. “The key to a successful internship program is understanding what our internship providers expect in terms of both hard and soft skills and ensuring that our students have a thorough understanding of both.”
RIC has augmented the Directed Internship course in RIC’s School of Management to build students’ self-awareness, understanding of important business issues in the context of corporate culture, and their self-confidence. This effort is anticipated to eventually reach the more than 200 students who are participating in internships across RIC’s five schools.
During the fall 2013 semester, four internships resulted in permanent job offers for RIC students through the School of Management. Wilson said several more job offers are anticipated during the spring.
Company partnerships have also grown, according to Wilson. “Emphasis has been placed on accurately assigning internships based on student interest, ability, preparation and desire,” he said. “We call this establishing ‘the right fit,’ which enables us to match students with internship providers to produce a relationship that is effective and productive on both sides.”
Students also are directed to internship opportunities through the Career Development Center, which provides internship listings and access to job boards. Counseling is available by setting an appointment at the center.
The center advises students to tap into their networks – classmates, family and friends – to find internship opportunities and to consult academic advisers and RIC faculty for advice.
RIC students now are interning at organizations across the state, including Collette Vacations, Hasbro Children’s Hospital and the Providence Performing Arts Center.
Film and anthropology major Matt Seifert connected to Rhode Island PBS, where he has interned since fall 2013, through his adviser, Kathryn Kalinak, professor of English.
Seifert is in charge of securing footage for the station’s “Rhode Island Classroom” series that explores K-12 learning initiatives across the state.
“Not only am I learning how to create projects, I’m learning how to do research that goes into that and working with multiple people on every project,” Seifert said. “This experience is definitely going to help with my plans for graduate school and a career, hopefully at PBS.”