Internship Program Helps Students Get Ahead

When scores of international marimba players descend on Arcata next summer for the annual Zeltsman Marimba Festival, it will be due in large part to the work of Tiana Arriaga (’12, Business and French).

For the past four months, Arriaga has been helping promote the event through an internship with Marimba One, the custom marimba manufacturer. Using skills she learned in class, Arriaga created a local marketing strategy and compiled a database of potential partners for the Arcata-based company, which is hosting the international celebration.

Over the course of the semester, she also prepared an assessment of the company’s social media strategy and created an industry-specific blog.

“I’ve used a lot of marketing skills and learned a lot about importing and exporting which is really neat,” says Arriaga, who is considering a career in international business.

Arriaga is one of fourteen students participating in an academic internship class—BA 482—offered for the first time this semester by the School of Business. The four-credit course matches students with a local business, where they spend ten hours a week gaining hands-on career experience.

The class is part of a broader effort to expand internship opportunities in the School of Business. That got a boost recently with a $400,000 gift from the Patricia D. & William B. Smullin Foundation, which will fund 150 paid business internships starting in Spring 2013.

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Tiana Arriaga (‘12, Business and French) is helping assess social media strategy and organize an international marimba festival through BA 482, an internship class offered by the School of Business for the first time this semester.

Business School Lecturer and Internship Director Shari Duron designed the course and established a pool of organizations interested in participating. She paired fourteen students with an internship based on their career goals and the needs of the company.

“Not only do the students get an academic experience that relates to their career, enhances their breadth of knowledge and increase their marketability, it’s also of great value to the community,” Duron says.

At the beginning of the program, students work with Duron and their internship coordinator to develop a project with an identifiable outcome. They receive mentoring from Duron and their internship supervisor throughout the 16-week period.

Projects range from a feasibility study of the rock and gravel business at the Karuk Community Development Corporation to inventory assessment for local hair care company Jessicurl.

“They have a lot of options based on their interests,” Duron says.

In addition to mentoring, students meet several times a month to share their experiences and discuss ways to overcome challenges. Later this month, they’ll present their experiences at a final reception.

To be eligible, students must be juniors or seniors in good academic standing. They must also submit an advisor or faculty member recommendation, resume, and application and conduct an in-person interview. Most are business majors and all have taken relevant coursework.

Laura Rich (’12) is a recreation major minoring in business who is interested in a career in public health. This semester, she interned with the City of Arcata’s Community Development Department.

Rich used her background in health and business to develop the city’s first-ever quality of life indicator study. The survey compiles data on seven factors—demographics, health, education, economy, the natural environment, the social environment and public safety—to determine a community’s overall health.

“It taught me a lot about health and how your community has a huge effect not only your physical well being, but also your overall quality of life,” says Rich, who plans to apply to medical school.

After the Zelstman Marimba Festival next summer, Arriaga would like to get a master’s degree in sustainable business management.

“I think this internship and HSU has definitely inspired me to pursue that,” she says. “I’ve learned about environmental standards and ethics. Eventually, I’d like to help businesses go green.”