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Career ready

Internships are a key component to the educational experience for many students at Penn State Wilkes-Barre. Some recent graduates of Penn State Wilkes-Barre who successfully completed internships found assistance from Career Services and faculty at the campus.
By: Goldie Van Horn
Penn State Wilkes-Barre prepares students for internships, future careers

Internships are a key component of the educational experience for many students at Penn State Wilkes-Barre. Some majors, such as business, require a for-credit internship to graduate, while students in other majors may elect to pursue an internship solely for the experience and not for credit.

“A credit-bearing internship is done under the direction of a faculty supervisor, who helps the student to identify an internship that will meet the criteria needed to receive a grade,” explained Maureen Ciliberto, Career Services coordinator. “Experiential internships can be done by the student independently without supervision from a campus representative.”

Career Services offers assistance and advice to students who are seeking internships.

“Students who are pursuing an internship for credit should meet with a faculty member when beginning their internship search, as they have specific criteria in their syllabi,” Ciliberto said. “We encourage students to visit Career Services for internship preparation skills such as creating résumés and cover letters, advice on the application process, interview coaching, and resources on how to go about finding an internship. That includes Nittany Lion Careers, a database of internships/jobs that employers post for all Penn State students to access.”

Ciliberto teaches an internship preparation course each fall at Penn State Wilkes-Barre for students who anticipate doing internships in the spring. This fall, the course included a new unit focusing on career readiness.

The unit included eight areas that the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) has identified as important to career readiness: professionalism, communication, critical thinking, teamwork, technology, leadership, equity and inclusion, and career and self-development.

“Career readiness is crucial as graduating students head out into today’s workforce,” Ciliberto said. “At Penn State Wilkes-Barre, building these professional and practical skills is part of how we prepare students for their future careers.”

Matthew Roberts, who completed the new career readiness program, said he found it to be very helpful.

“The career readiness program really helped me understand exactly what businesses are looking for and how to adapt to that,” he said. “I learned about my strengths and my weaknesses and created plans on how I can work to improve my skills to make sure I am ready for my career path. Working alongside Mrs. Ciliberto made it very easy and enjoyable to learn.”

Ciliberto said the students “absorbed and embraced” the concepts taught as part of the career readiness unit.

“The students were very receptive to the program and were absolutely wonderful,” she said. “We looked at their perception of their career readiness before and after they completed the module. They grew so much during that time and really came to a better understanding of what it means to be ready to enter and compete in the job market. After completing the program, they earned a certification for career readiness that they can list on their résumé.”

Some recent graduates of Penn State Wilkes-Barre who successfully completed internships found assistance from Career Services and the faculty at the campus.

Ed Rudnesky, a 2018 graduate with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering technology, works at MDI, a firm that installs and upgrades warehouse automation systems at locations across the country. He was hired as a controls engineer at MDI after completing a six-month internship at the company. Rudnesky learned about MDI when the company came to Penn State Wilkes-Barre for an informational session and luncheon organized by Career Services and the engineering program.

“Toward the end of my time at Penn State Wilkes-Barre, my professors and Career Services were helping us craft résumés and prepare for an internship,” Rudnesky said. “After learning about MDI, I inquired with them about an internship and was selected. I was prepared because of everything I learned at Penn State Wilkes-Barre.”

“The professors and environment at the campus were amazing,” he continued. “I’m really glad I made the choice to go to Penn State Wilkes-Barre. I loved the small class sizes and the ability to get a lot of one-on-one time with my professors. I got a lot of electrical experience that I use in my job today.”

During Rudnesky’s internship he worked on a controls engineering project at an Amazon distribution center in Baltimore, implementing what he learned on site and receiving training in software development while in the office. After Rudnesky completed the internship, he continued to work for MDI on weekends, flying out to various job sites and then flying back home for his classes during the week. He was offered a full-time position upon graduation. He is based in MDI’s Allentown office and has so far traveled to work on projects in Atlanta; Santa Cruz, California; Dallas, Texas; Seattle; and Mexico.

“The internship really took all the book knowledge and hands-on knowledge I had received into the real world,” Rudnesky said. “I got to see how to apply everything I had been learning and to build on that. It also helped me learn to be a professional in an engineering environment.”

“I love my work environment and it’s been an amazing experience,” he said. “Everyone takes a lot of pride in our work. We’re constantly challenged and get to see some great places as well. The company takes care of us and appreciates us for all the work we put in.”

Like Rudnesky, Austin Banks secured a full-time job from his internship. Banks, a 2022 graduate with a bachelor’s degree in business, interned at an insurance agency in his hometown of Mountain Top and was hired as a full-time insurance agent before he even completed the internship.

He began his internship with Kyle Goyne Insurance Services in the spring of 2022, with Goyne showing him the ropes firsthand.

“I had no experience with any sort of insurance prior to my internship. He taught me how to develop leads, schedule appointments, identify customer needs, and market the appropriate products and services. He introduced me to clients and even took me on business trips,” Banks said. “During the course of the internship, I got licensed with the state in property and casualty insurance sales. By the end of the internship, as word of mouth started getting out and clients told their friends, I started completing my own sales. Kyle told me I brought excitement back to the office and even gave him motivation.”

Goyne said the internship was beneficial not only for Banks, but also for the insurance agency.

“Austin’s ability to talk to people and to learn quickly, along with his very strong work ethic, made his internship a huge success for both of us. He helped our business grow and thus his internship led to him being offered a full-time sales position with our company,” Goyne said. “The Penn State education he received obviously prepared him to succeed in today’s business environment not only with our company, but anywhere else he would have chosen to apply.”

Banks said he loved his experience at Penn State Wilkes-Barre, particularly the small class sizes and personal interactions with faculty members. He also took advantage of math tutoring offered through the Learning Center and the assistance available through Career Services.

“Staff and faculty helped me with whatever I needed, whenever I needed it,” Banks said. “Career Services helped me with the documents I needed to turn in to get credit for my internship and also with my résumé and cover letter. They were fantastic with that.”

He appreciates the connections he has developed with his local community through his internship and resulting job. He also values the flexibility his job offers, which enables him to continue running the landscaping business he established in 2016 while still in high school.

“I love working with and meeting new people. When I meet clients, they often become friends and we become involved in each other’s lives,” Banks said. “My internship was an incredible experience. I learned real-world communication skills, networking skills, problem solving, and phone communications; I also met so many new people, had new experiences, and so much more. I am excited to say that I am going to continue to work at Goyne Insurance. I learned so much and had so many positive experiences.”