Now is the best time for Rocky Mountain College students to start looking for internships, according to Lisa Wallace, Director of Career Services. Internships are programs that give students hands-on experience in fields relating to their specific major. Whether paid or unpaid, internship programs can be beneficial to students and help provide direction for their career futures.
“I want to encourage students to strongly consider them even if they don’t happen to be a required part of their program,” said Wallace. “Seeing how the content you’ve been learning about in your program is used in a real-world setting is so far beyond the learning experience that can happen in the classroom. It’s a really powerful way to double-check is this really the direction I want to go.”
Wallace elaborated on the two common types of internships she sees.
“What I’ve noticed is that internships take one of two shapes,” Wallace said. “One is where the organization has a well-developed program. The other is where an organization has a one-time project that they need help with and it can be really well-suited for a student in a learning position. They both can be very strong learning experiences.”
Internships can save students time and energy that could be wasted trying to figure out career goals without any form of guidance.
Emma Constantine, an RMC senior and cheer team captain in the Master of Accountancy program, is going through her second internship with Wipfli, a consulting firm that provides business and accounting services. Constantine said she benefited from both internships.
“I learned from it because you actually get to see a source document and you’re able to learn the difference between what is necessary for taxes and what isn’t. Last year’s internship really helped me out with training just because I knew what to look for out of all the source documents.”
On the importance of internship programs, Constantine said they are necessary. “I learned a lot in all my classes and I am still learning a lot, but you learn so much more at a faster pace doing it hands-on.”
Constantine asserted that it’s one thing for students to read about their field in a book and another to “actually do it, have it come up later in life, and still be able to understand it because you’ve done it in the past.”
“My hope is that I get to do another internship with them [Wipfli] and that they hire me,” said Constantine. “I think that helps a lot too just for networking and getting resources. Even if you don’t stay with the company you intern with, its nice to have that reference.” The professional relationships that students are able to build through internship programs go a long way to help secure their career futures.
Giselle Bright, an RMC senior majoring in business management, recently went through an internship with Eide Bailly, another accounting advisory firm.
“I specifically pursued this internship to see if accounting was the route I would want to take as a career,” said Bright. “Through this internship, I learned that I did not want to work in accounting and that I preferred more of the management aspect of a business.”
“I think internships are becoming more popular. It is partially because some degrees require it, but also because it provide an invaluable foot in the door to the next chapter of your life.” concluded Bright.
On March 21, the Jobs Jamboree will take place at MetraPark from 11:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Touted as Montana’s largest job fair and hosted by the Billings Job Service Employers Committee, the fair will feature 150 different employers looking to hire not just students but people in the wider community. According to Wallace, who sits on the committee, there will be “a little bit of everything” from potential internship programs to regular employment positions.
The following week, on March 27, RMC will be involved with the University Career Fair hosted at MSU Billings from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Wallace hopes to run a shuttle back and forth to the fair.
“I call it the No Excuses shuttle. Usually around 60 businesses go to that event specifically looking to talk to college students. It’s very likely to be internship-oriented, but then also jobs that you might want after graduation.”
Constantine was able to start her first internship with Wipfli after attending the University Career Fair and connecting with the right people.
“The first one [internship] I interviewed a year in advance and applied through the MSUB and Rocky Career fair.” said Constantine. “I wandered around there and found some people who worked with the firm I now intern for. I went to their office the next day and interviewed. They called me a few days later and I came in for a second interview. A week later I was officially hired.”
“I definitely think if you get offered a chance to do an internship, you should,” said Constantine. “Especially if it works with your schedule. Just because tax class was interesting for me and I learned a lot, but doing taxes is way different. So it’s nice to get that experience before going into the real world.”
For more information on internships, upcoming job fairs, and business information; check out RMC Careerlink on the RMC website or contact Lisa Wallace at 406.657.1039, firstname.lastname@example.org.