Students Speak of Real-Life Work Experience at Rex Breeden Internship Institute

April 25 2006

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Jaclyn Sparks, Clarian intern
TERRE HAUTE, Ind. -- Indiana State University's partnership with Indianapolis-based Clarian Health Partners was one of many presentations aimed at students, faculty and employers attending the first Rex Breeden Internship Institute.

The partnership, now in its second year, was one of Clarian's endeavors to reach out to Indiana schools, stem the state's brain drain, and attract top talent, said Diane Iseminger, special projects coordinator.

"Our President and CEO Dan Evans initiated the partnerships with the schools as a way to enhance experiences for students, and open them up to a host of meaningful career opportunities of which they might not be aware. You have students who want work opportunities and we are a large organization with varied career paths that touch the lives of people and the communities we serve each and every day. It is a natural fit. Clarian can provide your students with challenging work that will give them valuable and meaningful experiences," she said.

Iseminger said that experience is invaluable to students in today's business world.

"Getting practical real-work experience to complement your classroom experience is critical. It really helps separate you from other students who might be strong academically, but haven't had the opportunity to apply that knowledge to a work environment," Iseminger said.

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Diane Iseminger, Clarian Health Partners
Clarian's internship selection process is based on real-world hiring practices, Iseminger said. Students apply for specific internships, go through an interview with both ISU and Clarian and undergo a background check. Offers are extended and students participate in a full-day orientation session.

The plus side of this process is that Clarian interns are considered internal candidates when they apply for full-time positions with the not for profit healthcare provider, she said.

The partnership has caught the eye of ISU students.

"We've had between 30-40 applicants each semester," Dianna Cooper-Bolinskey, ISU's internship coordinator, said.

Jaclyn Sparks was one of eight ISU students who served 10-week internships with Clarian last summer.

Sparks, a senior public relations major, promoted the Women's Heart Advantage Program while interning with Clarian?s corporate communications department.

Sparks coordinated and worked community events, but solicited partners in addition to coordinating the program?s brochure, managing web content and completing four grant applications.

"This was an experience of a lifetime. I was in an actual professional setting and part of a professional environment. I learned what my strengths and weaknesses were. By the time I got to my senior year, I knew what I needed to work on," Sparks said.

Student sessions at the Internship Institute covered topics such as disabilities in the workplace, career development resources for African-American students and a panel discussion made up of students who have completed internships.

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Students, faculty and employers participated in round table discussions.
Jenna Schniders, a junior computer science major, worked at Sycamore Technology Solutions, a student-run company out of ISU's Office of Information Technology. The company works with non-profit organizations in the Wabash Valley -- setting up their computers and networks and creating web pages.

Schniders used the opportunity to apply what she's learned.

"I've had to use a lot of what I learned in the classroom and have had to learn more from my co-workers," she said.

She values her internship experience and urged other students to pursue internships.

"They give you the real-world experience outside of the classroom. The things you learn in an internship you don?t learn in the classroom. Having an internship shows employers you know how to apply what you have learned," Schniders said.

The day-long event concluded with students, faculty and employers participating in round table discussions concerning what steps student should take to prepare for professional employment.

John Obermeier, a senior business management major who interned with the Target Corporation, participated in the round-table discussions willing to give advice to students on the value of internships.

"Get out as a freshman or sophomore. Companies may not be looking for you right off the bat at that level in college, but by getting your name out there and networking when you get to be a junior or senior it makes a difference," he said.

Obermeier completed his Focus Indiana internship at a store in Evansville, learning all aspects of the business ? front end, sales floor, logistics and human resources.

"The most valuable experience I had was working with people and learning how to deal with team morale," he said.

Obermeier will enter the company's store manager training program in June, gaining experience at a store in Evansville. After three years in the program, he will be eligible for store management positions in the Illinois and Indiana region.

Recognized during the institute were Cory McLemore, Intern of the Year, and the Hydrite Chemical Co. as Employer of the Year.

McLemore, a December graduate with a degree in aerospace technology, interned with ATA Airlines during Summer 2005. Working in the chief pilot's office, McLemore assisted in several projects -- including an observation flight to Frankfort, Germany.

"Without this experience, I would not be where I am today," he said.

McLemore is currently in training at Trans States Airlines in St. Louis, flying a modern 50-seat jet aircraft.

Hydrite Chemical, a manufacturer and shipper of food ingredient chemicals, has built a stronger relationship through its internship program. Students learn a new set of job skills while applying their knowledge in a professional setting which could develop into a career opportunity beneficial to both parties.

The Internship Institute was made possible by financial assistance by Columbus businessman Rex Breeden, a 1942 ISU graduate and member of the ISU Board of Trustees from 1973-1992.

After serving in the Pacific during World War II with the U.S. Navy, he returned to Columbus to begin a successful career in business management and ownership. He worked in the management of Breeden, Inc. and other companies in Central Indiana for 25 years.

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Contact: Kent Waggoner or Dianna Cooper-Bolinskey, ISU Career Center, (812) 237-5000

Writer: Paula Meyer, ISU Communications & Marketing, (812) 237-3783 or devmeyer@isugw.indstate.edu

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Story Highlights

Faculty, students and employers attending the first Rex Breeden Internship Institute April 20 learned about the impact an internship experience has on students' preparation into the workforce and heard about ISU's partnership with Clarian Health Partners.

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