Successful Internships Go Beyond What Happens on the Job

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The benefits of college internships are well documented. Internships give you the opportunity to put your education into practice, to develop hands-on skills and experience a real-life, professional environment, or try out a potential career. Internships are an important part of the Bentley experience and our top-ranked career services team makes sure that you are ready to make an impact. In fact, 87 percent of Bentley students complete one internship..

But just completing an internship and actually making the most of it are two different things. That’s why the Bentley internship experience is designed to go beyond the time you spend on the job. Here, you’re given the resources, preparation and freedom to fully explore your internship, putting you in position to reap the rewards robust hands-on learning can provide.

Resources

“A notable buzzword at Bentley is ‘resources,’” says Steph Hall, who graduated with a Corporate Finance and Accounting major. “A big priority here is giving everyone mentors, whether that’s fellow students or faculty members. It’s something you really don’t see at other schools. You don’t see that kind of one-on-one interaction. Here, the process isn’t just philosophical. It’s hands-on, making sure you have everything to survive and succeed as a student.”

That access to resources begins the first year. Besides the traditional orientation, Hall was paired with a student mentor and faculty adviser. She also connected with professors with real-world experience in the health-care industry, giving her a team of role models throughout campus.

That kind of valuable relationship building is baked into the entire Bentley experience, Hall says. So, whether you’re networking at a career fair organized by the Pulsifer Career Development Center or helping run a student organization, you’re complementing your classroom work with the crucial soft skills employers look for.

One of those opportunities turned out to be an especially good decision for Hall: An internship at athenahealth, the cloud-based health-care IT company, led to a fulltime job offer. She works there now, in financial planning and analysis.

“The experience has been super educational and the company is exactly what I could have asked for,” says Hall. “I love it.”

Preparation

Not every college student knows how to turn an interest into a career, and Valerie Boucher admits that she didn’t either — until she took her passion for film and added some Bentley lessons.

“I’ve always wanted to pursue a career in film and entertainment,” recalls Boucher, who is majoring in Information Design and Corporate Communication. “I decided that I wanted an internship in Los Angeles working in film to see if that was really the direction that I wanted to go with my degree.”

The very idea was far-reaching, especially for a business student. But Boucher got her big break at a production company founded by the prominent actors/filmmakers Bradley Cooper and Todd Phillips. Once she landed an interview, she relied on the preparation she had learned in Bentley’s career development introduction seminars.

“The mock interview that we did sophomore year showed me that anytime you’re interviewing with someone, that person of course demands respect but they’re also just a normal person who probably feels awkward asking you a bunch of formal questions,” Boucher says. “If you can carry yourself with confidence and make them feel like the agreement between you will be mutually beneficial, you’re much better off.”

To go a step further and ward off potential stage fright, Boucher met with Alyssa Hammond, Bentley’s director of undergraduate career education and outcomes. All the preparation paid off when Boucher aced the interview at the production company.

During Boucher’s internship there, the company released the box-office hit A Star is Born. And Boucher’s work experience was just as incredible as the films that were being produced.

“My internship was really hands-on,” she says. “Every day I went in, I was reading and writing coverage on scripts or sitting in on company meetings where we discussed how to take a simple idea and turn it into a two-hour film or a successful television series. I never once left work feeling as though I hadn’t contributed something meaningful.”

Boucher says that Bentley’s rigorous coursework and her business background – though unusual for a Hollywood intern – prepared her well. “I chose Bentley because I wanted to not only create, but also be able to walk into a room full of suits with my projects and ideas and not be shut down because I don’t know anything about the ‘bottom-line’ side of things.” 

Boucher says that the internship not only reaffirmed her decision to work in film, but also expanded her goals.

“During my internship I worked in production, but I was lucky that many people I met were individuals who work in all areas of creating a film,” she says. “That inspired me, and by the time I left, I wanted to be a screenwriter, producer, director. You name it and I want to do it.”

Freedom to Explore

When Vincent Bacho’s internship with Cigna wasn’t what he had hoped, he decided to make the most of a second chance.

Sophomore year, Bacho was accepted into Cigna’s systems analyst program for the summer, where he was in charge of communication between programmers and other groups at the company. The experience was a mixed bag: Bacho loved the company, but didn’t really enjoy what he was doing there.

“It felt like I wasn’t adding anything tangible to the business,” he says. “I was just passing along information. Going into the summer, I knew that I wanted to do programming and software development, but I had applied to less technical positions because I didn’t have confidence that my skills at the time would land me an internship anywhere.”

Bacho regrouped, took a hard look at himself and his Cigna experience and, when offered another internship at Cigna, asked for a position in programming. It was like flipping a switch.

“I had an absolutely amazing time!” he says. “My manager would give me weekly assignments and then give me free rein to work on them and implement the solutions how I wanted to. The autonomy really helped me grow my confidence.

Both sides of his internship experience helped Bacho in the classroom and with his confidence. He’s now focusing on a career as a software developer, armed practical knowledge and experience he could never get from a book.

“Being able to work in an actual corporate office where they’re working on making real software takes a lot of the hypotheticals you learn about in classes and actually implements them,” he says. “Particularly for CIS majors, I think there’s a big difference between working on coding projects for a class, which are generally really small scale, and then being put onto a team where their code is used by millions of people. I don’t think there’s a better learning experience than that.”

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