Internships provide work experience

Businesses, educational institutions and organizations have long helped themselves to a large and available pool of young and affordable talent known as interns.

Many interns glean valuable experience from these paid and unpaid stints in any of a variety of jobs.

Companies often find they can be inserted right into positions within their ranks when they finish with their internships.

Susquehanna Health has more than 600 interns in a variety of positions, according to human resources business partner Tara McKibben.

“Internships vary,” she said. Our biggest months for start dates are January and May. They (internships) can be anywhere from three weeks to an entire year.”

More than 300 of the internships, McKibben said, are in the nursing field, with many of the students coming from programs at nearby Pennsylvania College of Technology.

And the good news is, many of them take jobs at Susquehanna Health after completing an internship.

“We have about an 80-percent hiring rate for nursing interns,” she said.

The health system, which includes Williamsport Regional Medical Center and Divine Providence, Muncy Valley and Soldiers & Sailors hospitals, is among the biggest employers in the region.

McKibben said length of internships, none of which are paid, vary and also include students in other career fields such as exercise science, respiratory therapy and radiology.

The health system taps numerous colleges including those out of state for interns.

“I have some from Florida and Indiana,” she said. “They come from all over.”

McKibben said internships are a valuable means of a student receiving that initial job-like experience in their chosen career field.

The Williamsport Crosscutters make use of up to a dozen interns who help out in various aspects of the minor league baseball operation.

“They are invaluable to us,” said general manager Doug Estes.

The paid interns, he said, receive the “full gamut” of exposure to minor league baseball.

Estes said they gain a lot of experience, and everything they do has some type of educational component to it.

“People who have interned here have gong on to dozens of other sports organizations,” said Gabe Sinicropi Jr., vice president, marketing.

And minor league baseball is a great place for them to “get a foot in the door.”

The interns come from various colleges, including Lock Haven University’s sports management program.

Tim Miller, 22, a Lock Haven health and physical education major, is working as an intern in the college’s sports information department.

He performs a variety of duties, from working on the website to videotaping sporting events.

“I typically get about 30 to 35 hours a week,” he said. “I just think it’s a nice transition from school to the real world.”

Miller, a college wrestler, said he hopes to someday coach, and his particular internship gives him a different perspective on athletics.

Dena Cipriano, manager of marketing and communications, said the university makes use of interns, or student workers, in almost every facet of the school’s operations.

“They do tremendous work for us,” she said. “Having that work experience while they are studying helps them as well as us.”

Cipriano said many of the students who perform internships remain in the state, if not the local area once they graduate.

“Our graduates are really depended upon to drive the economic engine,” she said.

At Lycoming Engines, Williamsport, has up to 10 interns per year perform in a variety of the company’s departments including engineering, human resources and marketing.

“Internships provide benefit to both Lycoming and the students we employ,” said Katie Belle, communications and government relations manager. “Interns provide Lycoming with much needed support on a variety of projects and initiatives, while the students gain real-world work experience in a manufacturing setting.

“In an effort to attract, retain and develop young talent, our intern program also provides us with an opportunity to fill full-time entry level positions at Lycoming and other Textron business units. About 30 percent of our interns have received full-time employment or Textron Leadership Development Program positions in the last few years. The Leadership Development Program is for recent college graduates who display leadership potential, and provides these individuals with training, mentoring, and learning opportunities in multiple business units, which will enable them to accelerate their careers with Textron.”

Geisinger Medical Center had 117 interns last year doing a variety of duties.

“Most are paid,” said Donna Laroya, university relations specialist. “The unpaid positions we have are normally done for course credits. I work closely with human resources recruiters. We are working on initiatives to get these students in departments and in positions that are hard to fill. We want to see a lot of the local students coming here and staying here.”

Laroya said there’s seems to be an increase in the numbers of students vying for internships.

The internships, she noted, can benefit both the student and the medical center.

“Giving students a chance and getting them a chance to stay here is important,” she said.