By Kelcey Norris
Finding an internship can be challenging, but Youngstown State University students and faculty can attest that internships are absolutely worth the effort.
Justin Edwards, director of the Office of Career & Academic Advising, said there are two main benefits to an internship opportunity.
“It gives people an opportunity to get their feet wet in the workforce in a way where they’ll be able to take some risks,” he said. “You can make mistakes there and it’s okay to fail. … It’s a low-stress opportunity to get real professional experience.”
Edwards said internships allow students to meet professionals in their field.
“Usually, if you’re doing an internship, you have an application and some type of interview describing why you’d be a good fit for that company,” he said. “It’s a great opportunity to actually work through your professional brand and develop who you are.”
Edwards said the Office of Career & Academic Advising has extensive resources such as Handshake for students looking for internships.
“Handshake is YSU’s employment platform,” he said. “We vet every employer who posts there to try to make sure that experience is going to be as positive as possible. Handshake is a tool to make the job pool a little bit tighter and more focused for our students.”
Judin Balella, a sophomore marketing sales major, acquired an internship at Sweeney Chevrolet in Boardman and said his favorite part of the job is the variety of projects he works on.
“At Sweeney, I organize and go over the budget with my direct supervisor,” he said. “I also help with writing commercial scripts. I do events, representing the company at career fairs and social, community events.”
Balella is an international student from Italy and said at first balancing schoolwork, his internship, extracurricular activities and working his part-time job at YSU was difficult.
“The week can be pretty busy, but I put priority on school, family and work,” he said. “Organization is the key to make sure everything gets done.”
He said getting professional experience is what will set him apart from other employers.
“What you do behind the scenes, in my opinion, is how you can differentiate yourself from your competition and other students,” Balella said. “I believe it’s very important to do more, even though the results may not be seen right away.”
Kendall Orris, a senior mechanical engineering major, shared her experiences as a two-time summer intern with the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company.
“It was so nice working during the summer because I didn’t have to worry about the stress of classes and I could truly focus all of my time and energy on my job, and it really was rewarding,” she said.
She said one of her major responsibilities was managing machinery on the factory floor.
“Everything that has been preached in the classroom has come up at least once during my internship,” Orris said. “It has been extremely rewarding learning from professors at YSU that have actually had real work experience in the engineering field.”
Although Orris said she was nervous as a young female college student, she walked away from her internship with a new confidence in her field.
“[The] biggest challenge was overcoming the fear of working in a male-dominated field and proving my abilities to not only myself, but to others,” she said. “But I made long term relationships and connections with others in the engineering field.”
Jake Francisco, a senior marketing management major, is currently an intern at 898 Marketing in Canfield and said he feels the opportunity gives him the tools and knowledge to succeed in his field.
“Having an internship that relates to your major is a great way to stand out amongst others when applying for a job,” he said. “It gives you an upper hand.”
He said classwork and fieldwork go hand in hand, giving him more opportunities to learn.
“From classes I have previously taken, this internship has given me a perspective of where I want to end up in life or what industry I want to get into,” Francisco said.
Francisco has been working one-on-one with different clients on projects such as using social media platforms and creating blogs.
“We are always learning here,” he said. “Every day it is our job to learn something new.”