Imagine traveling to New York for the first time, the summer before your senior year at your HBCU, for an internship with the biggest network in the world, ABC News. Or imagine working with Apple Music in Cupertino, California, for 10 weeks.
These big-name companies offer placements that allow students to get a small taste of what the world can offer. Internships are a vital part of a university student’s professional life. Not only do they set the student up for success in the future, they allow them to apply the skills learned in class to real-world situations and experience working in that field.
At Florida A&M University, internships and career readiness play a big part in this institution’s success. According to a study on “Internship Experiences Among College Students Attending an HBCU,” approximately 41% of Black HBCU graduates had an internship or job that allowed them to apply what they were learning in the classroom compared to 31% of Black graduates from other institutions.
Some companies may see FAMU on a resume and think negatively or that this person is not adequately trained for the job. But with the preparation and training from FAMU, the talent speaks for itself to show that you are the one for the job.
Ivan Hopkins, a senior business administration student from Ocala, FL, had the opportunity to intern with Body Armor this summer and put his abilities to the test.
“I think FAMU does a great job preparing business students for internships,” Hopkins said. “They [FAMU] just set you up on a different scale: how to present yourself to companies and how to prep for interviews. SBI [School of Business and Industry] does a great job teaching professionalism and interpersonal skills.”
With the skills and knowledge Hopkins learned at SBI, he was ready to succeed while working with Body Armor. Though the experience didn’t solidify what Hopkins wants to do in his career, it taught him valuable information he plans on using in the future.
Based on research on HBCU students’ internship experiences, it’s critical for students to be challenged and exposed to new material to put their knowledge to use, develop their confidence, and fully understand the material. With new experiences comes newfound self-growth and clarity, which public relations senior Brandi Roman has faced during her multiple internships.
“It’s just something about having an internship; it just makes you feel a little more successful than the grades itself. It kind of gives you a glimpse into that whole ‘you got the job!’ email that you’ll receive post-grad,” Roman said. “Something I’ve learned throughout my experiences as an intern for these two particular companies that I continue to use today would be strategy. I needed to have a strategy for both of them [internships]. Without an overall goal, you can’t develop a strategy.”
Roman interned with Brands by Bry, a communications consulting company, in the fall of her sophomore year and then with JSL Presents, a clothing brand, this summer. While both were different, learning about strategy and its usefulness in reaching the end goal, Roman took the similarities of applying that skill and used it to her advantage during her recent position.
The significance of internships for students, especially HBCU students, is unwavering. With all the hard work, time, and energy put into honing these skill sets, internships are the perfect opportunity to see work come to fruition. Between clarifying what you like and don’t like, practicing those talents outside the classroom, and networking, internships are the best things any student can partake in for their career.