GUEST CONTRIBUTOR, ASHLEIGH DROZ, DIRECTOR OF THE OFFICE OF INTERNSHIPS & COOPERATIVE PROGRAMS, FLORIDA GULF COAST UNIVERSITY
An internship is more than a job. In fact, for many, a work-based learning experience, such as an internship or cooperative program, can be career-affirming or career-altering. Whether a high school student dipping their toes in the proverbial water before diving into a college major, a university student exploring or gaining experience in their intended field before graduation, or a seasoned professional looking to make a career change, these types of experiences can inspire passion, persistence, or a critical pivot in those who will ultimately be the future of our fields.
So how do we ensure that the opportunities we offer will serve as high quality learning experiences for hungry future interns of all ages? By incorporating a few critical components that will both challenge and support them as they expand their professional horizons. Let’s dig in.
First, work together with your intern to create clear learning objectives related to their professional goals and academic coursework. Successful internships always start with clear outcomes. Sitting down with an intern to discuss who they are and where they are headed means you can create an experience that aligns with their end-goal AND yours. You’ll see much more enthusiasm, energy, and excitement. And if you follow through with projects that line up with these goals? Well, you are also bound to see more satisfaction, productivity, and commitment. That’s a win-win.
Engage student-interns in authentic tasks considered meaningful to the organization. Internships can get a bad rap. We often see interns in the media spilling whole-office coffee runs down the front of their suits, filing mountains of paperwork for weeks on end, or picking up the boss’ dry cleaning (think: The Devil Wears Prada). However, a high quality internship experience should instead encourage the practical application of academic coursework and skills development in a professional setting. The best way to do this usually includes hands-on projects that align with your company’s overall mission and everyday efforts, as well as the intern’s career and academic goals. Not only will an intern gain a strong foundation of work experience, but they will also be much happier with their employer – YOU – if they feel they are making a contribution where it really counts.
Provide student-interns with supervision by and support from an experienced professional in the field in which the intern will be working. On the most basic level, a great internship comes with a designated supervisor who has experience in the intern’s area of focus. This is an important distinction to make on many levels! For example, let’s say you are interested in hiring an intern to work on your organization’s social media. My first question to you would be “who currently oversees your social media?” If your answer is something along the lines of “our in-house social media expert”, we’re golden! If your answer is more like “no one, that’s why we need an intern”… well, you are likely looking for a part-time employee or a contract hire. A student needs someone to learn from who is also accessible, supportive, and available to provide routine feedback, as an internship is meant to be a supplement of a valuable education.
Lastly, ensure a comfortable, safe, and empowering environment as a foundation for a student-intern’s experience. Taking stock of the current culture, resources, and physical space of your workplace is an important step before bringing on an intern. We generally consider the physical safety of our spaces regularly, but it is also important to check in with the inter-workplace dynamics, organizational policies, overall expectations, and technology and facilities available to ensure your student has what they need to be successful. If an intern’s basic professional needs are met, they are much more likely to shine!
These components are bound to get you started on laying the groundwork for a successful internship program, in part before your intern even starts! There is always room to improve and evolve as an internship host or supervisor, but these first few steps are bound to carry you and your team – interns included – through the type of experience everyone will benefit from, now and in the future.
To start your internship experience, contact Alex Breault (firstname.lastname@example.org) at the Greater Naples Chamber to learn more about engaging in work-based learning and how she can help you implement an internship program.
Guest Contributor, Ashleigh Droz (email@example.com) Director of the office of Internships & Cooperative Programs at Florida Gulf Coast University.
The Leadership Collier Foundation (LCF), of the Greater Naples Chamber, has named high school senior Julien Zappulla as its first-ever student board member. The decision to add a student board member was rooted in the desire to hear the student perspective on issues, especially as the Foundation’s work with youth and talent development continues to grow.
“As the LCF continues to advance our work with talent development, having a student voice on our board of advisors has proven to be very valuable,” said Amanda Beights, vice president of LCF. “Julian is not only a graduate of our Youth Leadership Collier (YLC) program but has also been active in the Foundation’s work-based learning initiative. We look forward to continuing this model of student involvement with all of our work moving forward.”
Zappulla, a 2019 Youth Leadership Collier graduate, attends Seacrest Country Day School where he is the captain of the robotics team and a member of the varsity soccer team. Additionally, he sings in the Naples Philharmonic Chorus. Zappulla also spends time mentoring local robotics teams, refereeing robotics competitions and creating STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) programs at the Boys and Girls Club.
“I am passionate about both the Greater Naples Chamber and LCF because I have a drive to communicate and network with people, and YLC was truly a life changing experience for me,” said Zappulla. “As an LCF board member, I look forward to providing a student perspective in discussions at board meetings and other events.”
Zappulla plans to attend Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts where he hopes to receive a masters in robotic engineering and artificial intelligence. His primary goal through a career in engineering is to advance the intelligence, design, and useful capacity of machinery, emphasizing robotic systems and controls.
To view all members of the LCF advisory board, click here.
Fellowship Provided State and Local Chambers with Opportunities to Engage Nationally on Critical Education and Workforce Issues
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation announced Alex Breault, director of work-based learning of the Greater Naples Chamber of Commerce graduated from its premier business leadership program. The inaugural Business Leads Fellowship Program trained and equipped leaders from state and local chambers of commerce with resources, access to experts, and a network of peers to build their capacity to address the most pressing education and workforce challenges.
“It was an honor to participate in this program with so many talented chamber professionals from around the country,” said Breault. “This experience has given me the tools and knowledge to better understand our workforce development opportunities.”
“As clearly displayed throughout this program, state and local leaders know better than anyone the critical link between education and economic development,” says Cheryl Oldham, senior vice president of the Center for Education and Workforce. “Not only did the Fellows gain a network of peers and experts in the field, the program is designed to help these leaders find opportunities to develop initiatives that will continue to advance the growth of their local economy and put education policy into practice.”
Following a competitive application and selection process, Breault was selected along with 32 other state and local chamber executives to participate in the second cohort. The four-month program covered the entire talent pipeline, including early childhood education, K-12, higher education, and workforce development.
Upon completion, Business Leads Fellows join the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s dedicated network of 200 chambers of commerce and statewide associations from around the nation who regularly engage on education and workforce initiatives.
In the modern workplace, even the most entry-level positions seem to require some form of related, hands-on experience. That is why Collier County high school and college students are turning to local internships to get a jump-start on their careers.
Jake Goguen, a senior at Florida Gulf Coast University completing a major in biology and a minor in chemistry, spent the summer interning for Arthrex, an orthopedic medical device company headquartered in Naples. His goal? To gain experience in the field of industry research.
Goguen first learned of the Arthrex internship program through his involvement with Youth Leadership Collier (YLC), a weeklong intensive program managed by the Chamber’s Leadership Collier Foundation that seeks to develop ethical leaders committed to active community involvement.
“YLC allowed me to gain knowledge of what opportunities were available in our area and helped point me in the direction of pursuing medicine and opportunities with Arthrex,” said Goguen. “The program also helped prepare me for college, giving me the chance to refine my leadership style, speaking abilities and networking.”
Goguen’s primary responsibility during his Arthrex internship was to conduct shelf life and degradation studies of Arthrex parts. He also played a pivotal role in testing prototypes, new equipment and studies with the Orthobiologics team.
“My internship has been an amazing experience that I would recommend to anyone,” said Goguen. “The Research and Development team that I worked with is extremely knowledgeable and helpful. Their guidance and this experience have really helped me solidify my goals.”
While the internship experience was undeniably impactful for Goguen and his career aspirations, his contributions—along with the contributions of each summer intern across Collier County— supported the company’s overall development and growth.
“Not only do internships benefit students, but they are important for our business as well,” said Alyssa McCoy, recruiter at Arthrex. “Interns provide teams with short-term support, fresh ideas and positivity to assist us with accomplishing our goals.”
In addition to the valuable input interns provide, companies who engage interns can significantly reduce the cost, time and effort when it comes to recruiting and training new hires. For this reason, the Chamber’s Leadership Collier Foundation is committed to cultivating opportunities for local businesses to partner with local students. The mutually beneficial internships equip students with professional, hands-on skills and, ultimately, encourage them to return to Collier County after graduation.
“Starting an internship program can be challenging and time consuming, but it can bring both the students and the company great success,” said McCoy.
Goguen is thankful to have been one of those students.
“My experience has prepared me for leadership positions at FGCU as well as given me a better understanding of the different industries in Collier County that I could potentially enter after graduation.”
After attending medical school, Goguen plans to move back to Collier County where he hopes to conduct research with Arthrex as an orthopedic surgeon. He credits his internship experience in large part for helping him solidify his career aspirations.
“You feel like part of a larger team, and I couldn’t be more grateful to have completed my internship experience in Collier County."
Chamber Membership Intern
Senior at Ave Maria University
Currently studying history with a minor in communications.
What projects did you work on during your internship?
During my six month internship I updated member information, such as adding logos and revising employee information, sent out letters congratulating members on ribbon cuttings or important milestones and supported the Chamber team whenever possible. I also enjoyed working at the annual Chamber Classic Golf Tournament, where I was able to network with some incredible people, as well as attending new member meetings where I saw first hand how the chamber assists business owners and encourages networking with one another.
What surprised you the most during your internship at the Chamber?
I was most surprised by the Chamber’s operations during my internship. Before applying for the position, I had no clue what a Chamber of Commerce was and how it worked. Upon doing research and being a part of the membership team, I was amazed how close businesses worked with the Chamber and how they interacted with one another to build up the business world of the Greater Naples area.
What’s your favorite memory from your internship?
My favorite memory from the internship would have to be assisting in the Chamber Classic Golf Tournament. I was able to interact with many different members and connect with past Florida Senator Garrett Richter. And witness a hole in one!
Do you have advice for students applying to or starting internships?
My advice for students who are applying to internships would be to make sure that you do research on the business or organization you are applying to in order to know what skills or knowledge you can showcase in your future projects. When applying don’t be afraid to possibly go out of your field of study, though being a history major, I have picked up skills and knowledge on how a nonprofit operates and can apply that knowledge later in my career.
For those who are starting an internship, be sure to walk in with a positive attitude and the determination for success. Your internship experience will be based on your attitude towards the work you do and how well you do it.
Now that I have finished my internship, I’m looking to finish up my senior year and after graduation begin the process of commissioning as an officer in the United States Air Force. It’s been a dream of mine since I was a kid to be a pilot and I feel I have what it takes to take on the challenge.
ALEX BREAULT, DIRECTOR OF WORK-BASED LEARNING
With summer quickly approaching, students across the region are starting to sketch out plans for their time off from school. For some, that may mean a part-time job or volunteering. For others, it’s the perfect opportunity to explore an internship.
Volunteer hours are now a graduation requirement at many high schools and colleges. Students try to complete these hours early in their education usually with an organization they are passionate about, but they’re often faced with a question of how they can earn money, while also gaining the valuable experience necessary to excel in their chosen field.
The solution: Internships. As more and more employers throughout Southwest Florida offer paid internships, students can get hand-on experience in their area of interest while earning a small income.
Alex Breault, director of Work-Based Learning for The Greater Naples Chamber of Commerce (Photo: Photo provided)
Internships have a long-term impact on a student’s future. Traditional part-time, summer jobs are beneficial in a wide variety of ways, including teaching students the necessary soft skills – from arriving on time to customer service – that are vital to their future success. But they aren’t always in a student’s desired area of professional growth.
Traditional internships provide students with access to training that will hone their skills, mentors who will encourage their success, and opportunities that will open their eyes to what the future can hold.
While the number of internships is growing, not every student can spend a summer working in their desired field. That means employers across all industries should take steps to create positions that emulate the internship experience. At the Leadership Collier Foundation, an affiliate of the Naples Chamber, we work with local businesses and schools to create the right opportunities for our businesses and future talent.
When our team talks to employers about intern opportunities, we encourage them to consider hiring a student beginning at minimum wage. Although unpaid internships are beneficial to students who receive school credit, employers who can offer paid internships are quickly able to see it was worth the investment. Offering paid internships opens the door to a more diverse pool of interns, allows interns to feel like they are part of the team, and leads to a more productive and positive experience. As students begin their hunt for a summer job, we encourage local businesses to look at ways they can incorporate work-based learning into their offerings.Students who have traditional, part-time jobs – such as working in the mall or at a restaurant – should be able to have the same education-based experience as an intern. Employers can do that by providing student employees with a variety of learning opportunities, from providing an inside look at operations and the opportunity to work in other departments to continued education and constructive feedback.
And traditional internships aren’t always the answer. Employers can consider adding micro-internships to their host of opportunities, opening the door to the next generation of employees. These are short-term, paid professional assignments that can be completed by an entry-level new hire, with minimal guidance or onboarding. Micro-internship projects can be anything from social media monitoring, to data clean up or content creation. Assignments can range from five to 40 hours of work, typically pay between $200 and $600 per project, and can be completed remotely. This type of internship is attractive to employers who either aren’t ready to host an intern or don’t have the resources to hire a part-time intern.
“I believe that the best real-work experience a student can have is through an internship,” said Denise Murphy, general manager at the The Players Club & Spa. “Internships help students develop and learn professional skills that promote growth and development. As an employer, it gives us the opportunity to mentor, teach and guide our interns in their learning process. The best part is we get to nurture their skillset and ideally bring them on as a paid full-time employee.”
Our economy thrives when we provide students with educational and fulfilling work experiences. These opportunities expose students to high-skill, high-wage jobs available in Southwest Florida and help grow the next generation of community leaders.
For more information about work-based learning, visit www.NaplesChamber.org/CollierLeads.
Original Story shared in Naples Daily News
“I want to work in government for the rest of my life” – A Student’s Reflection on Local Job Shadowing
AUTHOR: NICOLAS NORIEGA OLAZABA
Florida is to me still a relatively unexplored area. Having moved here from Texas just half a year ago, I thought that, not only adjusting, but also finding meaningful activities to partake in would be very difficult. Despite all this, I was able to shadow for Mr. Jamie French from the Growth Management Department of Collier County on February 20th, 2018, thanks to the great initiative by the Leadership Collier Foundation (LCF).
This was an experience of unparalleled benefit for me because, for the first time, I was able to learn, up close, about the operation of our government at the local level. So many things which we often don’t think about, going from the building of public areas to the enforcement of building codes in homes and businesses, all depend on this one local department.
I was able to listen to Mr. French and his colleagues discussing the building of a park area around Immokalee, and the challenges that this would present, such as having to figure out what the most optimal use of the land dug up during construction would be. Afterward, I was given a small tour of the department, seeing engineers and bureaucrats at their job. I was even able to see the place from which traffic is monitored and managed; not something you see every day!
This wasn’t the only thing that the LCF and Naples Chamber did for me. I was also given the opportunity to attend several local conferences on economic development and other such topics. These were not just incredibly informative, but they also provided me with the opportunity to network with local professionals working in a wide range of fields. I believe that all of these initiatives, which have also benefited other local youth, are important because they allow participants to become connected to their community and possibly start thinking about what career they wish to pursue in the future.
To participate in a shadow day as a business or a student contact Director of Work-Based Learning, Alex Breault today!
The Leadership Collier Foundation and Greater Naples Chamber of Commerce teamed up with Grace Place for Children and Families to bring a “Student and Business Networking” event to their students. The event gave high school students a chance to practice their networking skills with local professionals and learn about career opportunities in our community. The Leadership Collier Foundation and Naples Chamber encouraged business professionals from all disciplines to attend the event. This was a great opportunity for the adults to engage with our future talent and potentially recruit their interns or future employees.
Read on to find out more!
“I was thoroughly impressed after speaking with several Golden Gate High School students at Grace Place. Their ambition, maturity and openness to networking was beyond refreshing and I’m grateful to The Greater Naples Chamber of Commerce for hosting such a forward-thinking event. Many students don’t experience networking until well after college and I believe that this program allows students to have a distinct advantage in their future pursuits no matter their career choice. Once again, the Chamber has succeeded in connecting individuals in our community! Grace Place is an excellent community partner that continues to grow and serve Naples because they truly practice what they preach. I am looking forward to the next event!” – Kelsey Browne, Brown & Brown of Southwest FL
“The business networking event was a great experience for me. I was fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to meet prominent members of organizations and different businesses. I had a great time meeting them. They were all very friendly and gave great advice pertaining to my future. The business networking event also helped me develop connections with organizations like the Shelter for Abused Women and Children and have opened doors to many opportunities. Furthermore, this event has been very beneficial in making connections and getting insight to the vast type of businesses in Naples. – Jonathan Oliva-Infante (11th grade
Interested in hosting a networking event at your organization? Contact Alex Breault, Work-Based Learning Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
The purpose of my summer internship with the Guadalupe Center was to research various methods to create a survey that would collect the alma mater information of donors, professional advisors and Guadalupe Center friends, select a method, and create a survey.
In this internship I was able to utilize my existing computer skills including Microsoft Word and Excel and learn how to use new programs such as Online Express, Constant Contact and Blackbaud software. I also had the opportunity to enhance my professional skills, including written and verbal communication, attire and overall presentation that will have a long lasting impact on my future endeavors.
At the beginning of the project, I was instructed and became familiar with the database the Guadalupe Center uses. This process helped me become more self-aware about how I learn best. I realized that when I manage my time and schedule; learning the database and all its functions would progress. This strategy helped me enhance my problem-solving skills by becoming aware that my decisions would have an impact on the work of those around me. I was given clear direction and guidance on all my assignments with the expectations that were needed along with their deadlines.
I divided my time between the Guadalupe Center in Immokalee, Florida and the Development Office in Naples, Florida. When I was in Immokalee I worked in the library which has a studious and vibrant ambiance to it. I felt a strong connection with the Guadalupe Center and the work that I was doing. I was filled with joy as I looked through the tall glass windows and saw children as they ran around the playground. At the Naples office, I was surrounded by business professional staff members and board members. They welcomed me with open arms and pretty soon I fell into a comfortable routine where it became a habit to have lunch together. One of my unexpected projects included being asked for suggestions on a name for a project that was being developed. By being put on the spot I was able to challenge my creativity.
After sending the Alma Mater Survey, I was excited to see 50 responses within the first 20 minutes! I felt such a sense of accomplishment by seeing the response number rise. Overall, this internship was an amazing opportunity that provided with many benefits and memories. If I were presented with another opportunity to intern for the Guadalupe Center, I would definitely do it all over again.
Interested in hosting your own intern? Email email@example.com for more information.
When I began my position as Membership Intern at the Chamber, I was just months away from earning my degree at Florida Gulf Coast University. I have held a few other jobs throughout my college career but have never worked for a non-profit organization. I knew my position would involve interacting with our members and assisting our membership team. What I didn’t realize was that this was only going to be one small part of my job description.
I have been with the Chamber for about 5 months now, and I have been able to work with every branch of our organization. While my primary goal has been to assist our Membership Department, I have also been able to work with our Marketing Department, Events & Development, Public Policy, and the Leadership Collier Foundation.
I couldn’t have asked for a position that was more well-rounded, versatile and, well… fun! From assisting with and attending events, updating our database and writing press-releases, to engaging with our members and attending meetings, every day is an entirely different experience. I never thought that through my internship I would learn about new restaurants, other local non-profit organizations and large and small local businesses. I feel very connected to the Naples community and have seen our continued growth first-hand.
One of the most important things I have realized is just how much the Chamber does for our community. I feel that there’s a misconception that the Chamber is a business networking vehicle first and foremost—but that is only one small aspect of the work that is achieved within this organization. I have seen first-hand how our Chamber connects the whole community to new opportunities, not only it’s members. It has been such a rewarding experience to work with such a charitable and a driven team.
I will never forget my time here at the Naples Chamber and I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to work for such a terrific organization. I feel very prepared for my career and what the future has in store for me. I would highly recommend interning to any college student, as I would recommend hiring an intern to all our local organizations.
Rachel is a recent graduate of Florida Gulf Coast University earning a major in Psychology. After her internship, she is excited to pursue a career in human resources.
Interested in hosting your own intern? Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.