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Why Internships Matter

Why Internships Matter

If internships matter for students, then Eastern Oregon University’s department of University Advancement is making a difference. 

According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, the evidence is overwhelming that internships are “critical” for students trying to land a job after college. 

“Internships are extra valuable when supervisors have the time and energy to align the job with coursework and provide focused feedback on the student’s job performance along with their demonstration of essential skills such as professionalism, collaboration, communication, and critical thinking,” Shawna Elsberry, Career Services Director at Eastern Oregon University (EOU) said. 

EOU Alumnus Briana Rosenkranz Brigs, ‘20, agrees, going so far as to say internships played a crucial role, providing a stepping stone into her career path. 

“The University can give you a good start, but internships give you insight into the kind of work you may want to do,” Brigs said. “Being able to get that experience, asking how am I going to leverage that experience, I would recommend it to anyone.” 

Changing Course

Emily Andrews, ‘21, lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and works as a Marketing Technology Manager, aiming to become a Creative Director. That wasn’t always her goal, but an internship in the Marketing Department at Eastern Oregon University during the pandemic turned out to be a detour from her original goal of working in education. 

“I was going to be an English teacher, I thought the internship would be a great experience,” Andrews said. “We were completely remote, it kept me responsible, opened doors, and changed my perspective.”

Andrews said working with staff and faculty introduced her to other options, including a career in Marketing. Andrews described herself as a very avid reader and writer and noted that the creative writing classes she took at EOU have benefited her greatly. 

“I really enjoyed my creative writing courses,” Andrews said, “I felt like my professor fostered creativity that allowed students to excel.” 

The native of La Grande said her internship was crucial for her professional success and would encourage others to pursue internships to get a taste of what might inspire them. 

Starting Somewhere

“I always wanted to work in Marketing, It’s a lot of what I thought it was,” Eastern Oregon University third-year student Megan Gustafson said. 

The junior from Boise, Idaho has just started her internship with University Advancement at Eastern and said she is still unsure yet what she will do after graduation, but calls the internship a, “good experience.” 

EOU student Megan Gustafson splits her time between the women’s soccer team and school. Gustafson said that her internship helps prepare her for the future. (EOU athletics photograph)

The goal-orientated Gustafson hopes to finish her degree program in three years, with a plan to maintain one year of eligibility. The Mountaineer played in 10 games in 2021 and appeared in 19 matches during the 2022 season. 

“I started in Business Administration, but I wasn’t sure what I wanted, I took one marketing class and that caught my eye,” Gustafson said. “I fell into this internship and it’s a lot of busy work, but I am learning a lot.” 

Gustafson said her next step will be to pursue an MBA in Business at EOU. 

Chair of the FSA/EMSA Degree Programs at Eastern Oregon University, Kevin Walker said internships are a great way to gain knowledge and expertise that helps you stand out from others and ultimately can lead to job prospects.

“Every graduate has a degree so you can’t just rely on that to get a job,” Walker said. “Graduates need a way to stand out in the job market and internships are a great way to do that. Internships not only give you real-world experience in your field, setting you apart from those who just have their degree, but they often turn into job offers.”

Ahead of the Pack

An internship or work-study program can often put you ahead of the crowd. A good example of that is Daneli Atilano, a senior at Eastern Oregon University working in the University Advancement Department. 

Daneli Atilano already had a job before graduating from Eastern Oregon University.

In 2019 Atilano enrolled at EOU and immediately began looking for opportunities to share her voice. She began with the student-run newspaper, The Voice, while completing her English and writing degree program. 

Ultimately Atilano ended up working in the Marketing Department, writing press releases and stories for the University. 

“My passion for journalism began my junior year,” Atilano said. “Working for the newspaper on campus gave me the opportunity to get experience that led to working in the Marketing Department.” 

Atilano said she is grateful for the opportunity to learn the ins and outs of storytelling, and looks forward to pursuing her dream of being a journalist. 

“It’s interesting that EOU, even though they’re a really small school, managed to help me build my career pretty early, before even graduating,” she said. 

In August of 2023, Atilano was offered a full-time position with the Hermiston Herald, a full four months before she was scheduled to graduate. 

Outpacing the competition

EOU alum Brianna Brigs, ‘20, attributes much of her success working at a global technology company to a strong work ethic and the internship opportunity she had while attending Eastern Oregon University. 

(EOU photograph / Michael K. Dakota)

“The internship was tremendously valuable,” Brigs said.”It opened doors for me. I graduated just as the pandemic hit, it allowed me to have experience, to stick out.”

Brigs said that her internship with EOU Marketing, the ability to meet weekly with the marketing management team, gave her insight into how marketing works. As the pandemic hit and businesses were laying off, or not hiring, Brigs said her internship gave her experience she needed in a very competitive market. 

“I paid and put myself through school,” Brigs said, “The internship was very valuable to me. Business is such a common degree, so finding a way to stand out, to differentiate yourself from everyone else is important ” 

The highly self-driven Brigs earned her associate’s degree while attending high school in Idaho. She said appreciated the one-on-one time she had with her professors at EOU. 

“They knew my personality,” Brigs said. “They knew my work ethic, I don’t know if that would have happened at a bigger school.”