Halfway Around the World… Just Down the Hill: Internships in the Department of Communication—COMM 489

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Since 1984 and the launch of the Corporate and Organizational Communication major, the internship program has become a vital part of the Department’s academic and professional obligations to its majors. COMM 489, our internship class, is a requirement for Corporate and Organizational majors and an option for the Communication Studies major.

In the summer session of 2014, three interns are working internationally. One student is assigned to the U.S. Army in Seoul, South Korea. Another, Tingting Zhao interns at New Field International in Vancouver, B.C., Canada, coordinating college entrance initiatives for American universities with five are high schools’ Chinese students. Emma Collins interns with The Junction, a nonprofit, peacebuilding organization in Derry/Londonderry, Northern Ireland. Ms. Collins’ internship calls on her to help influence citizens of Derry/Londonderry toward safety and non-violence.  See news article  at http://www.bgdailynews.com/news/student-on-peace-mission-to-northern-ireland/.

Other worksites for summer internships include the American Cancer Society, the WKU Sisterhood, Congressman Brett Guthrie’s office, and others in Bowling Green; Dell Computers and McNeeley, Piggot and Fox (PR) in Nashville; and others in Louisville and Boston.

From 1984 down to now, the faculty of the Department of Communication and the Directors of the Internship program, have focused their classroom and advisory work with the majors in the Department to develop a job/career path for our majors that can be connected to an appropriate internship.  Over the years, the success of COMM 489 for our majors has been an alignment of a student’s dreams and goals with an “entrance” internship.

In the past ten years – 2004-2014, approximately 100 for-profit, non-profit, educational, and foreign business organizations have served as work sites for interns in the Department.  In nearly every case, student interns have had full access to their organizations corporate culture, their employee communication, and customer service and sales – a significant learning advantage for our majors and for the department.

The success or failure of COMM 489 depends on students’ goal-oriented movement toward a career that will maximize their Communication degrees.  When students know what path they want to take, when they have the encouragement and full support of their faculty, more times than not, students and the Director of Internships can find worksites that meet the needs.

To be sure, at the conclusion of their major, many students don’t know what they want to do in life.  For them, an internship is a “fishing expedition.”  However, in today’s business world, an internship is the way to learn to “swim with the sharks.” Many organizations won’t even interview someone who hasn’t completed an internship.

At the end of the day, the business community is increasingly demanding of an internship on a resume to set a person apart from others looking for the same job. The COMM 489 Internship program in the Department of Communication can be a ticket to an exciting career.

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