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Internships help students gain insight into chosen industries, decide career paths

Home Depot

Senior La' Vontae Johnson, back row center,
interviewed at Home Depot.

Each summer, Florida State University College of Business students fan out across the country – and, often, around the globe – to garner a glimpse into industries as diverse as accounting, finance, marketing and human resource management – and jump start their careers. This past summer, more than 420 students interned at 340 companies, earning academic credit along the way.

As interns, these students gain on-the-job training and network with professionals in their fields before joining the workforce as employees. Internships help bridge the gap between college and the work world. While some majors at FSU require an internship, other majors encourage students to complete an internship as part of their education.

“Employers are interested in students who are well-prepared and present themselves in a professional manner,” said Kawana Johnson, director of the college’s Office of Internships and Career Services. “Internships provide students real insights into the industry they are hoping to enter and students learn about their strengths, interests, problem-solving skills and their ability to deal with clients and work under pressure. This experience can affirm their career path or persuade them to change direction, so internships are invaluable whether they do them for academic credit or just for the experience.” 

Management senior La' Vontae Johnson spent almost three months as a human resource intern on the online marketing team at Home Depot’s corporate headquarters in Atlanta, Ga. He was tasked with designing and implementing an onboarding program for new associates, as well as developing a strategy to increase the number of Hispanic and Latin-American applicants. For his success, particularly with the latter project which resulted in a Latin-American Career Fair, he earned the company’s Homer Award for “giving back and building strong relationships” and representing the company well.

“I learned how to be an effective human resources business partner, and the importance of building strong business relationships,” said the Lakeland, Fla., native whose career plans include acquiring a solid knowledge of best practices in the field, working his way up to a senior HR manager and, eventually, becoming a human capital consultant so he can “shape the future of how we work.” 

While Johnson was making his mark at Home Depot, other students were mining valuable lessons at places like the Why Not You Foundation in Washington state, RightHear in Israel and Mercer Limited in England – to name just a few.

Robert Scott, a senior majoring in finance and professional sales, honed his skills as a summer financial analyst at London-based Mercer and its affiliate, Mercer Marsh Benefits, an   employee benefits consultancy and insurance brokerage business. He processed and analyzed client accounts, recommended ways to maximize firm profitability and worked collaboratively alongside the firm’s actuaries and investment professionals.

“From working alongside Oxford University graduates to learning how multi-national Fortune 500 companies operate in other countries, I feel that my three months overseas really adds to what I’ve learned in the classroom,” said Scott, who hails from Winter Park, Fla., and plans on obtaining his Chartered Financial Analyst credential in short order and, at some point, his Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree. “After this internship, I think my resume will plug me into the investment banking industry either in New York City or, even, in London with Mercer. I’m now am able to weigh my options.”


Junior Denise Lipman with the CEO and CTO of the
Israeli firm she interned with over the summer.

Marketing and entrepreneurship junior Denise Lipman spent the past two summers interning as a business development coordinator with RightHear, a technology company that created a smart-phone application to facilitate accessibility in public buildings for visually impaired individuals. Last summer, she worked at the company headquarters in Ra’anana, Israel, advising the CEO and chief technology officer on marketing strategies to expand business in Israel and the United States. This summer, she worked from her Tallahassee hometown and represented the company at an accessibility conference in Washington, D.C.

“Initially, I was so nervous about pitching the company to so many people, but over time, I gained the confidence to really share the company’s solution passionately and with ease,” said Lipman, whose career plans include marketing for a Fortune 500 tech company, particularly those creating and implementing innovative technologies that increase financial and economic stability in developing countries. “During my internship, I was put into many uncomfortable situations and charged with projects I didn’t know how to tackle, but having to overcome these challenges was a great opportunity for growth.”

Washington state native Silas Clapman, a marketing and sports management major, has his sights set on a career with the Seattle Seahawks or as a general manager of some other professional sports organization. He took his first step in that direction interning over the summer with the Why Not You Foundation and the Russell Wilson Passing Academy, both founded by the Seahawks quarterback and based in Seattle. He helped set up two camps for the academy, one in Seattle and one in Anchorage, Alaska, and helped run the Wilson Celebrity Invitational in Washington, work on the organizations’ websites, shoot video and photos and inventory merchandise.

“I was given a variety of tasks and picked up several great technical skills, but I also learned some life skills from Russell, who imparted his belief that you should not be afraid of failure because so many people who are the most successful today were told at some point that whatever idea they had would never work,” Clapman said. “To me, that was an invaluable lesson and an important part of my internship.”


For employers who want to explore the benefits of participating in the College of Business internship program, information is available on our website. Visit the employer internship page under the Recruiter navigation button to learn how to hire College of Business interns for your company or contact Alex Massey, corporate relations coordinator.

By Barbara Ash

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