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McNeese internships provide valuable experiences for students

McNeese internships provide valuable experiences for students

Meagan Green

Meagan Green, a visual arts junior from Sulphur, helped hang a local art exhibit at the 1911 Historic City Hall Arts & Cultural Center in Lake Charles titled "As Far as the Eye Can See" by one of her McNeese art professors - Lisa Reinauer.

Conducting research, tagging wildlife and hanging art exhibits-these types of internships allow McNeese State University students to connect their classroom knowledge with on-the-job applications.

Whether the internships are offered only in the summer or are ongoing, paid or unpaid or for academic credit or just for the experience, internships put students a step ahead in today's job market upon graduation.

According to Mary Kaye Eason, instructor and coordinator of support services for the College of Business, internships are a win-win for students and employers.

"Interns gain career-related experience prior to graduation, and employers get a risk-free opportunity to hire high quality, part-time employees and 'test drive' potential full-time hires. Internships are the missing link between education and experience," Eason said.

Both Sybil Froe, a Lake Charles marketing and finance senior, and Chrisnina Sutopo-Putri, a finance senior from Jakarta, Indonesia, agree that their internships provided "real-world training" and "great insights" into their professional career development.
Froe's internship with University Directories in Lake Charles involved personal selling and customer relations-both directly related to her marketing major.

"I was involved with direct business-to-business sales, customer service and setting team sales goals," said Froe.
Sutopo-Putri took a summer internship at Grant Thornton LLP in Washington, D.C., a program sponsored by The Fund for American Studies. "TFAS's internship programs are divided into four institutes and I was accepted for the Institute of Business and Government Affairs. There were 75 students placed into different companies and I was the only intern selected to work for Grant Thornton."

Her job duties included updating and conducting research for Member of Congress profiles, covering Congressional hearings and U.S. Chamber of Commerce events, conducting research on public policy issues affecting the accounting profession and providing assistance to support the group. "Although my internship was more about public policy rather than finance, I had the chance to learn and see closely how accounting regulation affects companies," she said.

Eason said internships also solve the catch 22 faced by graduating students when they need experience to get a job and they need a job to get experience.

Dr. Chip LeMieux, head of the Harold and Pearl Dripps Department of Agricultural Sciences, agrees. "We encourage all of our students to complete internships to gain experience and industry contacts. Student internships are potentially the most important part of the students' academic career."

Several agricultural sciences students had internships this summer with both the state and federal departments of Wildlife and Fisheries, Fort Polk, a local veterinary clinic and the Kerr Wildlife Management Center in Hunt, Texas.
Tory Theriot, a natural resources conservation management junior from Gueydan, just completed his second summer internship at the 6,500-acre Kerr Wildlife Center under the supervision of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

"At the center, I assisted biologists with research projects that encompassed everything from feral hog trapping for distribution studies to endangered species studies and dove trapping and banding," said Theriot. "We also did prescribed burns and various other range management activities."

Another job involved taking care of the white-tailed deer research facility that houses over 300 deer. "My duties included tagging and recording data of every fawn born. I was also responsible for feeding and observing the does and bucks in the pens. About 99 percent of everything I did was tied to my major in some way," he said.

As health sciences initiative chair for the Biology and Health Sciences Department, Dr. William Dees, assistant professor of biological science, works hard to place the department's majors into internships where the students are able to explore career opportunities and apply their academic knowledge.

For the past eight years, he has coordinated the 10-week medical summer internship at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Md. This year's intern is Tod Guidry, a biology senior from Sulphur.

Guidry worked in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at USUHS where he assisted in major research projects by performing a variety of lab techniques involving manipulation of bacterial genomes, experimental infection in mice and antimicrobial resistance assays and by learning to consolidate and analyze the collected data.

"The most valuable part of my internship was the hands-on experience I received," he said. "It's one thing to learn something while sitting in a classroom, but to be able to apply that knowledge on the lab bench was such a great experience. It also made me appreciate what I did learn in class, especially in my microbiology and molecular biology courses."

In addition, two McNeese biological science majors were accepted as interns into the Louisiana Biomedical Research Network program at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge-Camille Abshire, Iowa, and Christian LeBlanc, Jennings. Only 23 interns were selected for this summer's program.

Abshire said her job involved conducting research on the relatedness of lemur species using their DNA. "I had to familiarize myself with molecular biology research lab techniques and equipment such as Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR), gel electrophoresis and DNA sequencing," she said. "The most valuable part of my summer internship was the experience and training I took away from it. I received first hand experience in a research lab, which will strengthen my graduate school applications."

Meagan Green, a visual arts junior from Sulphur, enjoys "every minute" of her internship with the 1911 Historic City Hall Arts & Cultural Center in Lake Charles. Her duties include hanging local and traveling art exhibits in the gallery space, working opening receptions of exhibits, updating databases, organizing clippings of past exhibits and helping staff city-sponsored events.
"With my internship, I am learning about the ins and outs of how an art gallery works - this is an experience that will help me throughout the rest of my career as an artist, including how to present and exhibit my work," said Green.