Finding Meaningful Internships

Ft. Isabella D. Pankratz

“Tiffany, come up front please,” the speaker blared. Internally she groaned. Never mind the fact that she was in the middle of something; she was needed elsewhere. “I’ll be right back” Tiffany promised. Quickly she exited the little office. She passed shelves, picked up trash, and pointed out various items to questioning customers as she made her way to the front of the store. “Check stand six” the store manager instructed without looking over his shoulder. “Sorry about the wait. Do you have your rewards card?” Tiffany smiled and began scanning. She had been a checker for a long time. Spending several years in this position, she could do it in her sleep. Sometimes she felt she was.


Back in the office, the Human Resource Representative, completed other paperwork and necessary tasks while waiting for Tiffany to return. Before being called away, Tiffany had been entrenched in learning the company’s benefits system. It was outdated and irritating, yet fundamental to her work as a Human Resource Intern. Now she was checking. The customer comes first. The customer comes first. The customer comes first. A lesson that was entrenched in her mind from too many training seminars. The customer, she thought, could not be served without every facet of the company’s staff, including Human Resources. Yet, here she was. Standing in front of another customer doing the same job she had done over and over again. She could say nothing though. She was the intern after all. The matters of her professional growth seemed to be of little importance to those who demanded her presence now.


Once the badge of “Intern” had been placed upon her uniform she no longer existed as anything but a means to the, constantly changed, ends of the store and its managers. A smile pasted to her face, she thought sullenly I hate being an intern.


If this sounds familiar, it is probably all to real to read of the experiences some interns go through. When a business, person, or tradition becomes too focused on the needs of NOW, it can produce an unempathetic system of YES, WE CAN TAKE CARE OF THAT. While it is true, that without demand there is no business, it is also true, that an unnatural focus on this demand can derail the proficiency of responding to a business’ economic drivers.


One student, Isabella D. Pankratz, a Culinary Arts major, spent her internship at Covington Senior Living. Isabella found her experience to be entirely different from the, semi-fictious, one of Tiffany. She described her time at Covington Senior Living as such…


“One of the best benefits of this internship is being able to serve the elderly and build meaningful connections with them. I get to cook for them every day and I get to interact with each of them personally. While it is nice that I get paid for this internship, it is all worth the effort and work I put in every day, enough that I come in regularly and volunteer hours. This internship is honestly one of the best experiences I have done since starting my degree and it allows me to practice the skills I have learned in my classes. I highly recommend this internship to anyone looking for an amazing work environment and great experiences.”


As a University, we strive to offer internships such as Isabella’s. UVU’s students should not reap the unfortunate repercussions of a professional, and even personal, career growth stunted. Great meaning, as Isabella referenced, should be the goal of all who enter, facilitate, and promote any internship opportunity. Finding that connection with business and self, can be the difference between a well-groomed professional and an ill-prepared initiate.

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