By Sydnee Alms and Stephanie Skordas, Wake Forest University School of Business
While earning a summer internship provides real-world experience and the opportunity to explore career paths, students in the Business and Enterprise Management (BEM) major at Wake Forest University School of Business take it a few steps farther. For one thing, each student is required to participate in a rigorous, project-based internship with required writing assignments, faculty check-ins and a reflective essay at its conclusion. And then, when students return to campus, they create comprehensive presentations for the BEM Tabletop Tradeshow.
Part tradeshow, part competition, this event allowed senior BEM students to showcase their accomplishments during the summer 2014 internships. With more than 70 companies, such as FedEx, Procter & Gamble, DISH Network, Deloitte Consulting, Target, Goldman Sachs, Time Warner Cable and Nordstrom participating, students experienced internships in a variety of areas, which included advertising, analytics, finance, marketing, consulting, hospitality, information technology, human resources, sales, and management.
“The BEM internship program enhances the education and professional readiness of Wake Forest students by enabling them to apply skills learned in the classroom to the work environment,” said Gigi Parent, manager, BEM Internship Program. “Some of these valuable skills include decision-making, teamwork, problem solving, and leadership.”
“During my internship, the most important skill I used was how to work with my team to manage multiple competing priorities and complete them by our deadlines,” says Casey Bangs (’15), who interned at Bank of America. “In an average week, I was responsible for two portfolio monitoring projects, two long-term projects and a constant flow of ad-hoc requests.”
Each student is also assigned a faculty member who provides mentoring on issues that may arise and advice on projects at work. Students submit weekly reports to this mentor to reflect on how their work experiences have improved their professional, academic, personal and career development.
While the BEM Tabletop Tradeshow has been around for six years, this year something new was added. All employers were invited to attend the event in Benson University Center on September 25th and nine were able to be present. Also present, a panel of judges. They viewed the students’ creative displays and listened to their presentations before awarding a grand prize of $500 for the best in show, and $250 for four spotlight awards.
2014 BEM Tradeshow Award Winners:
SHOWSTOPPER AWARD: $500.00
Casey Bangs, Bank of America
SPOTLIGHT AWARDS: $250 each
Research – Ara Bilazarian, Burger King
Creativity – Mary Taylor Kaplan, Food Network Magazine
Professional Presentation – Emily Nault, Biscuitville
Organizational Skills – Rachel Williams, Disney/ABC
Bangs, who won the Showstopper Award, calls the internship a “pivotal experience” and offers this advice to future interns:
- You can control only two things in life and your career: your attitude and work ethic. People respect hard workers and enjoy working with someone who has a positive attitude. Even when work gets stressful, follow this advice.
- Learn as much as you can. Meet with as many professionals in your organization’s setting as you can to learn about his/her work. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and try to understand the work you’re exposed to.
In summer 2014, 77 percent of the internships were paid opportunities, and Wake Forest students worked in thirteen states, from New York to California.