Internship opportunities provide unique experiences, development

Through connections and the Lighthouse, students are provided with a plethora of internship opportunities to enhance their academic experience and prepare for their future careers. Whether pursuing a degree in business, the humanities, the sciences or any other field, internships provide valuable hands-on experience, networking opportunities and professional growth. 

Director of Career Development Alice Jones spoke on the necessity of internships for students. “School is why you’re here, but, on the other side, what’s your goal when you finish your education?” Alice Jones said. “Even if you’re going to continue your education, maybe you’re going to go get your Master’s or your PhD, that work experience or that internship or that research experience is still important because that’s going to help you stand out from all the other hundreds of people or thousands of people depending on your field that you’re competing against.”

Virginia Wesleyan focuses on experience and educational and professional development, ensuring that its graduates are versatile individuals equipped to overcome any challenges they encounter.

Alice Jones stressed that experience bolsters students’ resumes. “Doing those things that you can do to add to your portfolio is important. It’s just as important as the academic piece,” she said.

The Lighthouse: Center for Exploration and Discovery is a resource specifically designed to provide students with experiences to enhance their college career and prepare them for success after college. The Lighthouse’s Career Development Program (CDP) offers students an array of resources and opportunities, such as internships, in order to help them create a professional route for the future. Alice Jones encourages students to begin utilizing these resources as early as possible during their college careers.

“People think that they have to wait until they’re getting ready to graduate to start doing these things, but you don’t, and you shouldn’t,” Alice Jones said. “Everyone should start as soon as you get here, and if you see an event, or you see an employer is going to be on campus, stop and talk to them.”

VWU collaborates closely with local businesses, nonprofits, government agencies and community organizations such as Virginia Beach Parks and Recreation, Dollar Tree and IKEA Home Furnishing to offer a diverse range of internship placements for students. Through partnerships with well-known companies and institutions, students gain access to real-world projects, mentorship from industry experts and exposure to various career pathways.

Internships can be pursued during the academic year or over the summer, providing flexibility for students to balance their coursework and experiential learning. Micro-internships, which generally consist of the completion of one project with a company, are also great opportunities for students who may be overwhelmed with schoolwork and extracurriculars. Additionally, the CDP provides personalized guidance and workshops to assist students in securing internships that align with their interests and career aspirations.

Senior Bryce Jones found his niche thanks to the VWU internship placement program. Bryce Jones has been working at IKEA as a business analytics intern, where he helps analyze IKEA’s sales data and inventory numbers while working with management and the marketing team.

  Bryce Jones was originally notified about this opportunity when working with Professor of Management, Business and Economics Frank Futyma and the Marlin Business Conference. The Marlin Business Conference is an event held every semester that gives students and Hampton Road residents an opportunity to listen to key speakers from locally owned businesses, network with fellow business minds and engage with business leaders of the future and present.

Senior Emily Moody poses with a granola bar on a Virginia beach for her internship, where she makes promotional material for All Good Granola. 

Emily Moody|Marlin Chronicle

“Wesleyan helped me get this internship by aligning myself with the right people and having professors help me prepare for interviews, important dates, etc.,” Bryce Jones said. “My internship does offer full-time positions, which I am looking to pursue post graduation, but having classes that allowed me to participate in the Business Conference and learn the true ropes of performing business acts are ways that Wesleyan has showed me what it’s like to prepare and present your idea or yourself in a formal and business professional setting which is good experience for everyone.”

Internships offer more than just practical skills; they also provide valuable life lessons. From navigating workplace dynamics to mastering time management, students develop resilience and character through their internship experiences.

“It helps you apply your theoretical knowledge to the real world. So what you’re learning in class, how does that apply?” Alice Jones said. “It helps you expand your transferable skills, so communication skills, teamwork skills, ability to use technology, all those things. And sometimes you’ll learn new things while you’re doing that.”

Along with the many direct benefits of completing an internship, there are numerous advantages that can be applied to life after college as well.

“I think it helps people develop professional connections, because you’re working with people who are in the field that you might want to go into,” Alice Jones said. “It gives you something to boost your resume, so that you can more effectively market yourself because now you stand a little bit above all those other grads that didn’t have that experience. I think it helps you test out career options, but also, it helps you refine your goals.”

Senior Michael Burton had the opportunity to intern at Lockheed Martin in Sunnyvale, California this past summer. Lockheed Martin is a company that makes advanced technology for military and aerospace purposes, like fighter jets, missiles, satellites and cybersecurity systems. As an intern, Burton was tasked with leading meetings, ensuring that multiple teams are on track with their due dates and making schedules for future projects. 

“During my time at Lockheed, I learned about key aspects of project management, data management and scheduling,” Burton said. “The work I did was valuable to future employment as project management skills are used in every workplace. Being able to communicate with multiple teams, organize and adjust to their work are skills that apply to being a good team member and employee in the workforce. These skills can be put in place in any career path.”

The combination of rigorous academics, diverse internship opportunities and personalized support at VWU prepares students to thrive in their chosen fields and make significant contributions to society. Through exploration, growth and practical learning experiences, students embark on a journey of self-discovery and professional advancement, setting the stage for a fulfilling and successful career journey.

By Kylon Lewis