NKU Students Thriving in Summer Internships and Gaining Important Experience

Nearly 50 Percent of Employers Want an Internship on a Student’s Resume, NACE Survey Says

By Ryan Clark
Web Marketing + Communications

Lee Epling always wondered what it was like to manage IT security in an active office environment. Epling, a 21-year-old computer information technology major from Catlettsburg, Ky., had become a star as captain of NKU’s Cyber Defense Team. The team, which participates in multi-day competitions that defend corporate computer networks from cyber attacks, recently placed in the national contest.

These students know what they’re doing when it comes to cyber security. But Epling had never tried these skills in the real world – that is, until he got an internship with Paycor, a payroll and human resources management provider based in Cincinnati.

Lee Epling

“I'm getting an idea of just how difficult it can be to strike a balance between security and usability,” Epling says. “Being the main advocate for security in a larger company is also quite a challenge, but it's an exciting burden to take on.”

He helps protect the company, and then the company uses that security as a selling point.

It’s an important job — one of many important jobs around the world that NKU students are working this summer as internships become increasingly more important on college resumes.

Nearly 50 percent of employers want to see an internship on a student’s resume, according to a survey conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE). And the number of actual internships is increasing. Research from the Society for Human Resource Management says 34 percent of organizations offered more internships in 2013 as compared to the previous year.

With the number of opportunities available, it is becoming more difficult for students to explain why they don’t have internship experience. Simply put, students say, internships are learning experiences that the classroom cannot replicate.

“I have learned so much,” says Alyson Schoenung, a 21-year-old senior journalism major from Cincinnati who is interning at Local 12. “Whether it’s becoming proficient in writing the script for a particular story, or having to force myself out of bed for my 3:30 a.m. shift, I feel more prepared for the real world than ever before.”

Shoenung goes out with reporters on stories, and is even in charge of the news ticker that crawls across the screen. But she has seen her share of hard news as well.

“I (covered) my first homicide, an experience that was jarring and a culture shock,” she says. “This experience gave me a new perspective of the protocols of the news and information gathering. You can't get a detail wrong, because then you're unreliable. The scene was uncomfortable and scary but I quickly realized that as part of the news, it's something you have to desensitize yourself to and just do your job.”

Of course, other internships can be less serious — but just as demanding.

Matthew Walton

Matthew Walton just graduated Magna Cum Laude from NKU in May with a bachelor’s degree in sports business and a minor in business administration. Now the 21 year-old is a full-time intern in the promotional event department with the Cincinnati Reds.

As a former intern in the NKU athletic department, Matthew’s duties with the Reds include, among other things, coordinating and executing all pre- and in-game promotions for all 81 home games; scheduling appearances, coordinating employees, and handling all support for the Reds Rover, a Cincinnati Reds promotional vehicle that visits community events.

“I think the most important skills I've taken away involve how to work,” Walton says. “To achieve success in this industry, one has to really be a go-getter, do the little things right, volunteer for duties whenever you can, and be likeable. There's far more to fitting in and ultimately getting a job than just producing quality work in your internship. Also, learning the little things like saying ‘hi’ to people and being friendly can go a long way. It makes you memorable, likeable, and makes others more likely to help you in the future.”

Alyson Schoenung

Alyson Schoenung, center, is a senior journalism major from Cincinnati who is interning at Local 12 this summer.

Photos provided by Kevin Schultz

Kevin Schultz, a 22-year-old Journalism major from Alexandria, Ky., is an intern with Scientific American magazine in New York.

Looking for an Internship?

Try the Career Services at NKU.

Tell us about your internship

Send your story and send a picture to Tom Ramstetter: ramstetter@nku.edu

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Kevin Schultz

Kevin Schultz, a 22-year-old journalism major from Alexandria, Ky., served as editor of The Northerner this year. After an internship with Scripps Howard, he applied for and was awarded an internship with the American Society of Magazine Editors. He discovered he’d be working at Scientific American magazine in New York City.

“I've already been published on their website numerous times and have had the opportunity to write way more than I would've ever imagined,” he says. “I've gotten to interview top representatives from NASA, the FDA, CDC, and more. And really just getting to learn science journalism from the some of the top science journalists in the world has been so educational. I can't even explain how much I've learned just from being here and working in the same newsroom as everyone.”

Then, of course, there’s the lure of living in New York.

“I was born and raised in Kentucky, so just getting the opportunity to come here and explore has been awesome,” he says. “Everyday I wake up and it's a new adventure, with the opportunity for me to do something I love in a city that is truly filled with magic.”

But sometimes living at home makes for a good situation, too.

Ryan Lenihan, a 21-year-old senior marketing major from Edgewood, was part of a group of NKU students who worked on a class project for Kona Ice, based in Florence. The group of 10 helped the company revamp its intern program to appeal to college students (and they did such a good job Kona donated $2,000 to the NKU Department of Marketing, Economics and Sports Business).

“The project enhanced my marketing skills such as marketing research, data collection and data analysis,” Lenihan says. Then that led to a summer internship – and more – with Cincinnati-based DeanHouston, a marketing firm.

“I recently received good news that they were going to hire me on during the fall semester to continue the internship with them,” he says. “I work with every department in DeanHouston, including the Finance, Web and Design Departments. I work closely with clients creating advertisements, branding new logos, and managing their budgets for the year.”

These students do real work, and they get a real-world experience.

“At the beginning of the summer I wasn't sure how I was going to manage getting up so early,” says Schoenung, who goes from her 3:30 a.m. television internship to a job at the NKU Campus Recreation Center. “But I wouldn't trade it for anything. It has been a truly valuable experience.”