February 20, 2019 | By NACE Staff
TAGS: best practices, internships, branding and marketing, spotlight
Spotlight for Career Services Professionals
For the past 11 years, the Indiana Tech Career Center has held its “Internship Recognition Breakfast,” during which student interns and their employers are celebrated.
“It started as a way to get students together to share their experiences with us and other students, and to further develop their relationships with employers,” explains Cindy Verduce, director of the career center and regional career services at Indiana Tech.
“We built off their sense of pride about what they were doing. We found that the recognition program has a lot of additional benefits, so we decided to grow it.”
The event is usually held the last Wednesday in April that students are on campus. All intern supervisors are invited to attend. According to Verduce, bringing students and employers together—along with all deans, and members of the faculty and the cabinet—to highlight their work has given the businesses exposure to the students at Indiana Tech and insight into the key roles interns perform on the job.
“For example, an engineering firm might now consider hiring an Indiana Tech student for an accounting internship, which it might not have thought of previously,” she notes.
“This event is a reminder that during their internships, our students are doing valuable work that builds their experience in their fields and benefits employers.”
The Indiana Tech career center asks employers to nominate “Intern of the Year” candidates who have made significant contributions to their organizations. The winner receives $500 in professional clothing, while several other students earn honorable mention and are awarded $100 in professional clothing.
Indiana Tech also recognizes employers. The “Employer of the Year” award is given annually to a nonprofit and a for-profit organization that has had a vital impact on internships during the past year and shown generosity in participating and supporting career center events, programs, and services. Meanwhile, the “Outstanding Participation” award recognizes one employer that has gone above and beyond to participate in career center events. A selection committee chooses all winners.
Another feature of the recognition program is an “Internship Wall,” a large banner that recognizes student interns, and identifies their degree programs and where they did their internships. It is hung in a high-visibility area of campus.
“Students love seeing their name on the banner,” Verduce says. “They take pictures of themselves pointing to their name and post it on Instagram.”
It also serves another purpose. The information is aggregated across years, so current students can see where previous students have interned by major. The master list is accessible on Indiana Tech’s website.
Pictures also spark interest in the internship program as the Indiana Tech Career Center had whiteboards printed with the message “I did it! I landed the internship at _______.” Students fill in the blank with their internship employers. Career center staff then take pictures of the students announcing their internships and post them on LinkedIn.
“These have attracted a good deal of attention and have been very impactful,” Verduce says. “Not only do students want to have their picture posted on LinkedIn, but they love the fact that they get contacted by employers.”
This year, the internship recognition event has been changed from a breakfast session to a luncheon. The Indiana Tech Career Center plans to hold a reverse internship fair prior to the luncheon so that students can share with other students what they did during their internships. The career center plans to have the interns’ supervisors at each booth so that they can interact with students interested in an internship with the organization.
“I believe in peer education,” Verduce explains. “When students talk to their fellow students about their experiences, it has greater impact.”
According to Verduce, Indiana Tech’s internship recognition program has brought greater visibility to the school’s interns and strengthened the career center’s ties to its employers.
“This is an effective feel-good program,” she says. “It’s always amazing to hear what our students have contributed in the workplace as they become polished, confident professionals.”
Median number of professional career services staff
Percent of career centers housed in student affairs division
Median square footage of career center
Percent of career centers offering for-credit career classes
Percent of career centers conducting first-destination surveys
2017-18 Career Services Benchmark Survey