By Dr. Elizabeth Christian
Pineville, LA (LCU News) – One need only do a quick Google search to see how important completing an internship is to today’s college student. A growing number of employers across industries want to hire graduates who have had real-world experience prior to hiring them.
Louisiana Christian University has been partnering with local organizations to ensure its students are equipped with those experiences for today’s modern workforce. One of these partnerships is with the Louisiana Baptist Foundation, which places student interns in a host of different business and marketing settings.
Isaiah Romero and Adam Hair, both LCU business majors, did internships this fall at the Louisiana Baptist Foundation. Romero has continued his internship this spring.
“LCU’s Experiential Learning Initiative provides our students with additional learning opportunities beyond the classroom,” said President Rick Brewer. “The opportunity for our students to select two initiatives from four offerings—Research, Study Abroad, Internships and Service Learning—reinforces the College’s Mission and Vision while providing our students a competitive edge for the marketplace and post-graduate education.”
Brewer believes so much in the value of internships that he has included it in the Vision 2025 Plan—along with research, service learning, and study abroad. Students will be required to complete at least two prior to graduation.
“We are grateful for the learning and leadership development opportunity Dr. Jeff Steed extended to Adam and Isaiah,” Brewer said. “Indeed, our students benefited from their internship with the LBF—experience they will be able to leverage for future employment.”
Steed, executive director of the LBF, said he is honored to participate in the internship program with LCU.
“The internship program with Louisiana Christian University has been and continues to be a great experience for the Louisiana Baptist Foundation,” Steed said. “It is a win-win-win scenario for all involved. The intern students’ participation at the Foundation has enriched our ministry efforts. Also, the program gives students a real-life, ‘behind the scenes’ and practical view of ministry life.”
Hair’s internship at LBF in the fall was in accounting under the supervision of LBF Controller and CPA Chuck Murray. He said he grew to understand Murray’s methods and was very thankful for all the insight he provided in accounting—even when the constructive criticism was hard to take in the beginning.
“The world of accounting has an extremely steep learning curve,” Hair said. “Early on, I reviewed financial reports to get an understanding of them and how they related to the Foundation’s method of accounting. I also reviewed daily transactions to determine if errors had occurred in their reporting and learned from these assessments. Finally, the last month of the internship, I had the privilege of building a new model of reconciling accounts to make the Foundation’s reconciliation process much more efficient.”
Hair said his best learning opportunity during his internship was asking the why and how behind each activity.
“If you understand not only the process, but the reasoning behind the process it allows you to be more valuable to your company. How so? If you as an employee can identify relevant inefficiencies
and understand the root of the problem, you may be able to provide methods to improve the process and save the company making yourself much more valuable,” Hair said.
Hair said he thinks all accounting students need an internship before graduation—if for no other reason than the hands-on experience with the software needed.
“Excel, Excel, and more Excel,” Hair said. “Working with Excel and other software products is essential in accounting and this is one reason every accounting major needs to have at least one and two, if possible, authentic internships before graduation. I want to add that a lot of what you learn in an internship depends on your attitude. You need to come ready to learn and be willing to mess up—a lot. But realize that each failure is moving you closer to succeeding.” Romero is in his second semester as a social media marketing intern at LBF, under the direction of Steed.
“Being under his guidance and having him as a resource to go to when I had questions or concerns was great because I was able to comment and ask questions as freely as possible,” Romero said.
During his internship, Romero has created communication plans, established templates for marketing material, and scheduled and designed content for social media sites for the foundation.
“I also edited and recorded a video series that helps people understand the role of the foundation in helping ministries and individuals advance the kingdom,” Romero said. “My best learning opportunity was that I was given the reins on projects and was allowed to work on them, research, and compare results from the projects and tasks given.”
Dr. Adena LeJeune, chair of the Division of Business, said that type of opportunity during college is invaluable.
“Internships are a great opportunity for our students to gain experience by applying what they have learned in the classroom in a real-world setting,” she said. “As I interact with the students and read their weekly internship reports, I can see how they are developing their identities as professionals. Students who participate in internships will be well prepared to enter the business world full-time after graduation.”