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 the 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.