Business students who take advantage of internship opportunities during their college years reap many rewards. From real-world business experience and on-the-job training in professionalism and skill building to an enriched undergraduate educational experience, these rewards stay with them throughout their professional careers. In addition, internships help better prepare students when they graduate and can make finding that first job out of college a whole lot easier.

One company that has set itself apart through its outstanding internship program is Boeing. Since 2005, more than 30 business students have benefited from Boeing internships, which reflect the company’s commitment to higher education and corporate citizenship.

“Our internship program gives students work experience that adds measurable value to Boeing,” explained Don Larson, College of Business alumnus and director of staffing operations at Boeing. “Students engage in meaningful projects that offer them experience in leadership, team-building and technical expertise, all skills they can use in any career path they choose.”

Business Students Intern at Boeing
Students selected into Boeing’s highly competitive internship program are hired as employees for the length of their internships, with all the benefits and perks afforded any Boeing employee. Students are able to work with mentors, who help acclimate them to the company. They meet regularly with their assigned manager to receive and implement project assignments. They also complete the company’s standard performance review process to set goals and measure their performance.

Shaina Adami, studying marketing who interned with Boeing in 2012, worked on two projects during her internship. She evaluated trends pertaining to the retention of new employees and conducted a needs analysis of the training Boeing provides to its pilots.

“Boeing trains pilots from all over the world on the use of its aircraft,” explained Adami. “My job was to evaluate the training methods, determine their effectiveness, and make recommendations for improvement.”

Adami spent her time interviewing pilots from Boeing locations including Seattle, Singapore, London, and Miami. She familiarized herself with Boeing’s existing training methods, including computer-based training simulators, and assembled a cross-functional team comprised of pilots, videographers, and other training experts to help with the assessment.

Once Adami compiled the data for her needs analysis, she presented her findings and recommendations to the director of training for Boeing’s 737 fleet, and his staff. Collectively, this group is responsible for all training efforts for Boeing pilots.

“I presented my report at 8 a.m. and by 2 p.m. we were filming a new training video to implement my ideas,” said Adami. “It was great to see how quickly Boeing was willing to act on my findings and implement these ideas.”

Adami’s experiences working with a cross-functional team and presenting her findings to Boeing executives, while amassing many professional business skills and experiences throughout her internship, are indicative of the high level of responsibility, trust, and expectations placed on Boeing interns.

“Boeing offers a rare opportunity for College of Business students to experience a large, global manufacturing company,” said Susan Dana, associate dean for academic affairs in the College of Business. “Our students may or may not decide on a career with a large organization, but everything they learn through their internships with Boeing is so relevant to any career in business they choose to pursue afterwards.”

In addition to all this valuable, real-world experience, Boeing also encourages its interns to take full advantage of a host of other opportunities including tours of Boeing’s local plants, conducting informal interviews throughout the company, receiving additional training through small classes, and participating in organized tours of the area’s attractions and amenities.

Internships Benefit Sponsoring Organization
While student interns often benefit greatly from a well-organized internship experience, the sponsoring organization also reaps many rewards. Interns contribute to their host companies by accomplishing time-sensitive projects, infusing the organization with new energy and enthusiasm, and providing up-to-date technical skills. In addition, internships are a great way for companies to assess their interns as potential employees.

“Boeing has found its internship program to be incredibly effective as a strategic tool in attracting the best people we can, in all disciplines, including business,” said Larson. “Our internship program allows us to evaluate our interns as potential employees and allows them to evaluate Boeing, to determine whether a large corporation offers the type of environment in which they want to work.”

Some Boeing interns, like Mackenzie Fisher, a CoB graduate who interned with Boeing in 2005, were hired as full-time employees in Boeing’s Business Career Foundation Program (BCFP). The BCFP provides a two-year intensive employee training program in which new hires rotate through six jobs in four-month rotations. Fisher rotated through accounting, financial planning, cost management, and estimating, and chose two elective rotations in public relations/communications and contracts. She found her niche in the contracts department, where she has worked for four years.

“I love what I’m doing in the contracts department,” said Fisher, regional support in the contracts department at Boeing. “I like that half my day is spent strategically thinking; whereas, the other half is administrative in nature. I have a lot of autonomy in how my days are structured.”

Boeing converts approximately 60 percent of its interns into full-time employees, and its Business Career Foundation Program is highly selective. The company looks for individuals who demonstrate strong technical and analytical skills, are inquisitive, can work on their own, will go that extra mile to accomplish a goal, are effective as team members, and will represent Boeing well, as employees.
“We want to hire people who will flourish, participate, and successfully contribute to Boeing’s unique environment,” explains Larson. “We want our employees to come here, grow with us, and spend their careers here.”

College of Business Internship Opportunities
College of Business students participated in 116 internships in 2012, the majority of which were in Montana, with 20 out-of-state internships. Most students hear about internship opportunities through MSU Career, Internships and Student Employment’s college career fairs, offered in the fall and spring at MSU, or through local college or department initiatives, such as those organized through the Bracken Center in the College of Business. The College hosts two recruiting events each fall, which give business students the opportunity to meet business recruiters from area and out-of-state organizations.

“It is such an amazing opportunity for students at all levels to meet recruiters and ask them about the degrees and attributes they are looking for in their employees,” said Larson. “This form of networking leads to valuable opportunities for students that may not come around otherwise.”

Kregg Aytes, past dean of the College of Business, agrees and strongly encourages all students to participate in at least one internship during college. “I did an internship similar in nature to Boeing’s, with IBM, when I was an undergrad. It was life-changing and really set the tone for my career, right out of college.”

Larson offers students concrete suggestions on how to make the most of recruiting events. “Students should be prepared, take the time to look at the list of companies who will attend the recruiting event, and come prepared with specific questions for recruiters. Do your research!”

In addition, Larson recommends that students begin attending recruiting events as freshmen and sophomores, and come every year. “I remember the business students who come and see me every year to ask questions and check in,” said Larson. “When I see a student for the first time as a senior, I wonder, Where have you been, and why did you wait until your last year to participate?’”

Corporate Support Fuels Student Success
Student interactions with the business sector, whether through large organizations such as Boeing or smaller, family-run businesses, provide crucial opportunities for experiential learning that enriches the experiences of CoB students. This outside support comes in many forms, from businesses that seek solutions to real business situations from student groups as part of the CoB curriculum to local non-profits who accommodate student service projects to corporate internships.

“MSU produces high-quality students who become very successful,” said Larson. “Boeing participates in career fairs and recruiting events, its executives serve on CoB committees, and the company offers other means to support scholarships and other CoB programs because, as an organization, we want to contribute what we can to help continue that cycle of success.”

All of this outside support infuses the College’s educational offerings with important business interactions, collaborations, and real-world business situations. Both businesses and students benefit greatly from this support and interaction.

“The College really appreciates all that Boeing does to contribute and enhance our students’ educational experiences,” said Aytes. “We are always excited to partner with other businesses of all sizes, to offer our students real-world business experiences that highlight each organization’s unique culture and environment.”

For additional information about internship and job opportunities, please see: http://www.montana.edu/business/bracken/internships-jobs.html