Internship fund established for Ketner School of Business

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Recognizing that real workplace experience is the best way for students to prepare for and finalize their career plans, Ketner School of Business advisory board members each made contributions to a fund that allows Catawba College business students to receive stipends for their internships.

Contributions thus far to the new Ketner School of Business internship fund total $16,550, with a significant portion coming from Catawba trustee Chester A. “Junie” Michael, III to be used as matching funds.  Some of the money – $5,000 – was distributed this past summer to six different Ketner School of Business students.

Students who gained helpful, real world experience at local organizations included Tyler Hamilton at the Rowan-Salisbury Chamber of Commerce, Chloe Bully at Nazareth Children’s Home, Averi Mauney at the Salisbury-Rowan United Way, Heitor Vinci at Rowan Helping Ministries, Justin Stoner at Community Care Clinic and Tyler Peart at WSAT Memories 1280.

“Working for Rowan Helping Ministries was fantastic. I got to learn the whole process there, not just one area of the ministry. I got to help people and gain valuable experience all at the same time,”  said Heitor Vinci. “To me, it was important to have the stipend so I could pay for my summer living expenses here in Salisbury.  My internship ended up not being an expense and the experience was really, really beneficial.”

Vinci advises future students participating in similar internships “to get involved and talk to as many people as possible” since “the goal is the experience and networking.”

Chloe Bully, a senior business major from Belgium who interned at Nazareth Children’s Home, said her experience helped her “improve my communications skills since I spent a lot of time in advertising working with and meeting many people there and in the community.”

“I learned a lot about being in the work environment and that when you begin, you start doing a little bit of everything,” said Bully, who plans to pursue a career in marketing or advertising.

According to Dr. Pam Thompson, dean of the Ketner School of Business and associate professor of business, most students need to hold summer jobs to help earn money to pay for their college expenses, but often the jobs they land do not provide them with experience applicable to their academic majors.

The stipends the Ketner School of Business Internship Fund provides, she said, solve this problem, especially for students who want to gain experience working in a nonprofit setting.

“Experiential learning is a required component of the Ketner School of Business core classes for the B.S. degree in business, all concentrations,” Thompson said. “This requirement includes an external internship and one hour per week classroom study on ‘soft skills’ to include effective networking, email etiquette, resume development, mock interviews, manners at work and ethics.

“Frequently, the top internship opportunities are low paid or unpaid, and many students have difficulty affording to take these.  We believe in the value of internships for our students and do not want to see any student have to turn down an opportunity to gain experience due to financial reasons. We are very proud and appreciative of the work done to get this fund off the ground!”

Kyna Grubb, executive director of Rowan Helping Ministries, praised the internship fund, recognizing that it created a win-win situation for her nonprofit and Catawba students.

“Participating in the Catawba College internship program has been a wonderful experience for us. We have been able to tap into the talents and skills of business majors to develop internal auditing procedures and marketing plans for our organization,” Grubb said.

“Every penny is precious to a nonprofit. We have accomplished important projects at no cost to us because of gifts given to Catawba for this program.  At the same time, the students have gained practical business skills and exposure to pressing societal issues. I believe the internship program has been an important partnership for all those involved,” she added.

Ketner School of Business advisory board Chairman Dr. Charles Muse, of Florence, S.C., spearheaded the fundraising effort on the board and garnered contributions from every Ketner School of Business faculty member.

“Many of our students participate in internships at not-for-profit organizations that are unable to provide them with a salary or any expense reimbursement for driving back and forth to their work site.  The monies that we have raised through donations from our board, alumni and others help us provide funds to defray the expenses the students incurred,” Muse said.

As the KSOB Internship Fund continues to grow, Catawba’s Career Services Director Robin Perry hopes to place even more students during summer 2015 and beyond.

“We help students build their resumes with experience, in addition to building relationships with a variety of executives and community leaders,” Perry explained. “Making connections and networking are additional advantages of these internships.”