Experience Gives Students Edge Over the Competition

As the Operations/Member Services Director for the Mansfield/Richland County Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB), I have had the privilege to supervise and mentor over 50 students throughout the past eight of my nine years at the CVB.  It is truly rewarding not only for myself, but I believe that an Internship/Mentorship program can be a win-win-win for all parties involved.  Not only do students get the experience needed in today’s competitive work force, but our staff is able to maximize productivity and daily office functions.  The CVB is proud to be a part of the community and be able to help the students of our great educational institutions. 

Throughout the year, the CVB offers Internship opportunities to undergraduate students and recent grads as an avenue to gain experience and/or obtain college credits while continuing their education.  With more and more students going on to obtain higher education, I truly believe it is essential for students to have an Internship before graduation to give them the advantage and gain that critical edge over the competition when looking for a job.  With the CVB being a not-for-profit organization, we are able to give our interns a well-rounded background essential in today’s marketplace. In fact, we don’t just assign them projects, but they get real-world experience along with the mentorship to help them learn basics things like appropriate attire and interaction in a work setting, computer program shortcuts and tricks to make them more efficient, and even resume tips from the employer’s viewpoint. All critical knowledge for today’s competitive workforce.

Internship programs do not happen overnight though.  It takes thought, preparation, and proper management of these resources to make the program successful.  Flexibility is the key!  Because I believe education comes first, I base the Internship around the student’s schedule instead of the other way around.  In the past, we’ve had anywhere from one to four interns in the office at once.  I must say, interns definitely keep me hopping!

We don’t have cookie-cutter internships.  I really try crafting the internship to the individual based upon what the student’s desired job is after their education is complete.  I fine-tune the internships around their unique blend of majors and minors studied.  Because we are involved in a wide variety of things, we can accommodate a wide variety of majors, such as: Tourism & Travel, Hospitality, Business, Economics, Marketing, Integrated Marketing, Public Relations, Event Planning, Sports Management, Journalism, Creative Writing, Graphic Design and even Visual Media.  But, that doesn’t mean we are just limited to these majors.  In fact, we’ve had a Psychology student who did some research and analysis on visitor trends as well as two Nursing students….yes, Nursing!  With so much diversity, we are a great hub for extending general office skills experience no matter what area of study a student is pursuing!

I highly encourage businesses to incorporate Internship programs within their offices.  The experience can be such a win-win-win situation for all parties involved.  And, who knows, with all the new technology and programs out now, you may even learn a couple things yourself!  

Written by Amber Dobbins, CVB Operations/Member Services Director