Through this blog, we will spotlight Otterbein students who are engaging in internships and professional experiences in a variety of industries and geographic locations. We will also share tips and advice on searching for internships and making the most of internship experiences.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Neal O'Brien - Resolute Athletic Complex

Neal O’Brien '87 is one of the co-owners and operators of the Resolute Athletic Complex, and he also plays the lead role in their internship program.

Resolute has a very small staff, and when it comes to business related functions, they need people they can trust and give small, but important, jobs. For example, things such as setting up financial reports might not seem important, but they need smart and motivated people with a base knowledge who can complete important tasks. The primary roles that the interns serve is to assist with budgeting, financial documents, marketing, operations, and facility management. In Mr. O’Brien’s opinion, their internship is ideal for students interested in sport management. It is a great way to get a feel for whether or not it might be the right career for them. 

Mr. O’Brien said, “We only hire interns from Otterbein because my wife, Maureen, and I are both Otterbein grads. So we felt that it was important to give back to Otterbein, and one way we can do that is to provide these opportunities to students. Also, since we are Otterbein grads, we look for similar people who possess the qualities that we had when we left Otterbein.”

The best way to get an internship, especially at small businesses like Resolute, Mr. O’Brien said, is that, “more than anything else, you need to have the same drive and desire that we had in building our business. So you have to understand that it took a lot of time, energy and effort to start our own business, and if you can’t bring that same amount of energy to an internship, at least from a small business aspect, then it reduces the impact you can make.” According to Mr. O’Brien, you really have to be all in. By all in, he means the internship has to be important to you. You have to be on time, and realize that anything that is asked of you is critical. To have the best experience, you must be dependable.

His best advice is to know everything you can possibly know about the company before the interview, because there is no excuse for being unprepared. He says, “There is so much information out there that there is no excuse for coming into an interview and being unprepared. Have questions that you want to ask. At the same time, try to anticipate the questions that an interviewer might ask you. It will make you feel more comfortable. And lastly, be energetic.”

If you are interested in an internship at Resolute Athletic Complex, contact Neal O’Brien at or check Cardinal Careers.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Shirine Mafi - Business, Accounting and Economics Professor

Dr. Shirine Mafi teaches Principles of Management, Operations Management, and occasionally Performance Improvement. She is also a strong advocate of internships for her students. 

She said, “Internships give students an idea of what it’s like to be a professional in that field, and it can help them decide if that is really what they want to do or if they want to do something different. It allows gaining experience, and with that comes confidence. It gives them job possibilities, they get to know co-workers, customers, vendors. They get to go to meetings and meet new people. Internships teach students about professionalism and corporate protocol.”

Dr. Mafi says that while students are at school and still taking classes, she has seen a very significant difference in students who have internships versus students who don’t, particularly in terms of asking more sophisticated questions, taking class work more seriously, and understanding the context of the theories being discussed in class. Internships also show students what it takes to be successful, because they see role models in their area. They understand what it takes to be successful, to be noticed in any profession, because a lot of what an internship is is hard work and dedication.

On how she helps students with finding internships, Dr. Mafi said that she starts her advisees in their freshman year, and she tells them to look at companies they would be interested in having a career in. She said, “You need to think of options and start planning for an internship going into your junior year or senior year. Internships have several advantages, when it comes to potential jobs in the future, because through the internship, the boss has seen you work, so they don’t have to train you because you've been there, and you’re more comfortable in the work environment because you already know the ropes.”

As for the application process, she tells students to be themselves. They also need to know the job or jobs they’re applying for, what skills are needed, and why they are a good candidate. They need to look up what’s gone on in the past few years in the industry, so the employer can tell that they've done their research. It’s always good to have one or two good questions ready to ask the employer. Always send a thank you note. An email with no typos is nice, but a handwritten note is better. She said, "An internship is a 6-12 month job interview. They’re watching you." She encourages interns to be a sponge, absorb a lot, not to be afraid of challenges, be open to new experiences, and be a team player.

She says that for any internship that comes her way, she tries very hard to post it on her blackboard or announce it in class, as her way of encouraging students to apply. If there is an employer coming to campus, she will try to make a point of going and hearing what they have to say so that she can help the students who might be interested in that job. She recommends students use th
e Center for Career and Professional Development, Otterbein alumni, their parents and community service to put them in touch with professionals in the area. When guest speakers come to class, get their card. She recommends LinkedIn as great way of connecting with people. "If the CCPD is offering mock interviews, jump on it. It’s never too late to work on interviewing," says Dr. Mafi. 

Monday, November 3, 2014

Nikki Sherbahn '15 - Exel, Inc.

Name: Nikki Sherbahn
Year: 2015
Major: Management
Hometown: Danville, OH
Internship: Human Resource Intern at Exel, Inc.
Location: Westerville

Internship responsibilities: 
Interaction and reporting to the Human Resource Manager while executing assigned projects. File maintenance and reorganization, conducting ASC (America's Support Center) orientations, affirmative action planning distribution and feedback. Interacting with Exel senior leadership while performing research and completing projects. Handling scorecard report, diversity planning, and communicating updates on projects as necessary.

What I learned: 
Throughout my time at Exel I have learned several new communication skills from meetings with senior level management, constant contact through email and over the phone conversations. The ability to be clear, concise, and direct while also being friendly is extremely important in the professional workforce. I have also picked up many different skills in planning large events for the associates here at America’s Support Center. I am also gaining experience using several software systems through my internship. Specifically the use of Oracle HRMS (Human Resource Management System).

Advice about searching for an internship:
Put yourself out there! Do not be shy or embarrassed when conversing with people. Always slip in to conversation that you are looking for more experience and would love an internship (paid or unpaid) when talking to strangers. Also, FOLLOW UP! Give the company a phone call to check on your resume and/or application, it lets them know that you are seriously interested. Be polite, have good manners while interviewing, and most importantly, be confident!

Advice about how to make the most of an internship experience: 
It is obvious that no one really enjoys paper pushing. But do it anyway, with a smile on your face. Pick up any tasks that you can get and don’t be afraid to ask for more! Always look for new things to do, you won’t believe how much you can learn. By offering your help anywhere possible, it also shows others within the company that you are flexible and willing to take on new tasks.