UWF business students make global impact through internships
The University of West Florida College of Business placed 64 students in internships during Summer 2016, providing hands-on learning opportunities for students on a local, national and international scale. Interns joined organizations ranging from the Pensacola-based Lewis Bear Co. to John Deere’s global headquarters in Springfield, Missouri, and even as far as the Summer 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
“Internships provide students with the opportunity to observe the mechanics of a real business organization from the inside,” said Dr. Nestor Arguea, chair and associate professor in the UWF Department of Marketing and Economics. “They learn to distinguish between a concept learned in a classroom setting and its application in the real world. In addition, an internship is a wake-up call to some students who may not appreciate the traits that business organizations in general seek from our graduates: honesty, good communication skills, respect, willingness to learn and a good attitude toward working with others as peers.”
For Ana de Paula, a junior global hospitality and tourism management major and member of the UWF swimming and diving team, it took two years of pre-planning to make the internship of a lifetime happen. The Santos, Brazil, native heard about volunteer opportunities for the 2016 Olympic Games from a former assistant coach in 2014. de Paula jumped at the chance to attend the historic event and gain valuable experience that would complement her education and provide real-world, large-scale event planning skills for her future career in the tourism industry.
At the Olympics, de Paula served as the IT assistant at the Pentathlon technology area and volunteered in the Rugby Stadium. She said that volunteers were able to rotate and “do a little bit of everything” at their designated areas, which provided flexibility and a more well-rounded experience.
“I did everything from giving the referees results to be signed to controlling the athletes training area or restricted access areas, checking equipment for media use and translating at the entrance, bag check and ticket purchase areas,” she said. “The best part of helping build something so big is getting to see how great it turns out. I worked before the Games started, and to see it almost ready the day before was an unforgettable feeling of having played a small part of it.”
de Paula describes her time at the Olympics as “one of the best experiences of my life,” and said it provided her valuable opportunities to affirm what she would like to do with her career.
“This field study was the best opportunity to see firsthand how tourism works,” she said. “I definitely want to work with Olympics and major sports events in my career. This experience gave me perspective on the great points of the 2016 Olympics, what to do better next time, and what people want to see.”
Through hard work and persistence, Teressa Knight, senior supply chain logistics management major, landed a coveted internship at the John Deere global headquarters for remanufacturing—where only 26 out of 400 available positions are for supply chain logistics students and two-thirds of interns are typically male. She said her UWF coursework paid off on the first day when she immediately understood what her managers requested, quickly finished her onboarding process and began correcting flaws in the system and producing quantifiable results. She spent the rest of the summer working with industry technology, software, variability analysis and analyzing cost ratios. She also traveled to conferences, networked with industry professionals and earned respected supply chain certifications.
“John Deere has a very unique internship program, in that we were treated like real, full-time employees and assigned projects that added value to the company,” Knight said. “I was the lead on a main project that we were implementing in the factory. I gained experience I never would have in the classroom, but certain aspects of my degree program prepared me for my internship. Supply Chain Logistics Management is such a broad degree program, but thanks to my internship, I now know what part of logistics I want to pursue in a career.”
Bruce Brown, senior supply chain logistics management major, gained valuable work experience while sticking close to home as an intern at Lewis Bear Co. After working with the company during the spring semester through a seminar class, Brown accepted a position as an official summer intern to continue working with them on improving forecasting models and better analyzing data. He said it provided him the chance to enhance his classroom knowledge with hands-on business experience.
“While case studies certainly gave me a few ideas, we were able to make assumptions to fill in the rest,” Brown said. “In a real organization, I can’t make those assumptions. This internship has given me a real-world picture of how things actually work in business.”
To learn more about the UWF College of Business, visit uwf.edu/cob.