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JU student Alexis Richens (far right) poses with her fellow intern colleagues at Bermuda Foundation for Insurance Studies

Summer internship experiences shape Business students

Throughout the country, recent graduates are finding ways to set themselves apart from other students with the same major, grade point average or academic credentials. Work experience is important to any prospective candidate starting a career following college. The Davis College of Business had many students who completed experiential learning opportunities, or internships, this summer to build their resumes and have meaningful and enriching experiences.

“Internships are what set students apart,” said Dean Don Capener. “We are committed to partnering with businesses in Jacksonville to create opportunities for students to gain more experience and take their knowledge from the classroom outward.”

Here are examples of some student experiences:

•  This summer, Alexis Richens, a management and dance major, completed an internship in Atlanta hosted by the Bermuda Foundation for Insurance Studies. A native of Bermuda, Richens participated in a two-week program interacting with top executives of insurance companies.  This included hands-on projects to learn about the insurance industry and risk management techniques in business. During the experience, Richens visited 17 different companies, including brokerage, law and accounting firms, along with other insurance carriers.

“It was a great experience overall, to have done so much while spending just two weeks in Atlanta.  It was very rewarding,” she said.

When not in Atlanta, Richens was home in Bermuda working a second internship at Ariel Reinsurance Bermuda Limited in the legal and compliance department. The holistic experience has inspired Richens to become a Property Underwriter following graduation next May. Richens felt like this internship helped shape her plans for post-graduation, where she hopes to return home and teach dance in the evenings while pursuing her day job in the insurance industry.

•  Nathra Altheeb, an international business major originally from Syria, attends Jacksonville University on a Bert Thomas endowed scholarship. This summer she completed an internship experience at Bi-Lo Holdings-Winn Dixie, obtained through her JU connection, Trustee Bruce Kern. Altheeb worked with supplier diversity.  She compiled data about the use of various vendors, both direct and indirect, in order to comply with their mission of evaluating their vendor performance. She enhanced her skills in information management and dashboard creation during this experience. In addition, Altheeb developed communication skills which will be useful for her following graduation this spring.

“It was great to know that what I did actually affected the company,” she said. “This internship really helped me realize how essential it is to have some work under my belt.”

Nathra Altheeb (second from left) and Ellis Harr (third from left) pose with JU EMBA graduate Graham Leary (far right) at Bi-Lo Holdings Intern Fair.
Nathra Altheeb (second from left) and Ellis Harr (third from left) pose with JU EMBA graduate Graham Leary (far right) at Bi-Lo Holdings Intern Fair.

Altheeb hopes to use her skills with her native Arabic language and business skills learned at JU to work in the United States in some government capacity. Altheeb currently serves as the vice president for the Cultural Diversity Appreciation Club on campus.

•  Ellis Harr, a business administration and English major, also completed an internship with Bi-Lo Holdings-Winn Dixie this past summer. A native of Chattanooga, Tenn., Harr came to Jacksonville University for the rowing program and ultimately chose JU because of the Honors Program. He learned of the internship  from JU EMBA graduate Graham Leary, Vice President for Strategic Sourcing at Bi-Lo Holdings Winn-Dixie. Harr worked as a sourcing analyst intern, completing entry-level employee work.

Due to the new banners that Bi-Lo recently acquired, such as Winn-Dixie, Harvey’s and Sweetbay, Harr was part of the strategic sourcing team, working on packaging for like items under each banner. He analyzed the costs for the packaging of deli and bakery items and provided insight to make decisions with the merchandising department. From there, he completed the analysis by choosing which packaging would be utilized across the banners to save money for all stores.

“To be able to have such a learning experience halfway through my college career was very rewarding,” said Harr. “It has really opened my eyes to the importance of my courses, specifically in statistical analysis.”

Harr currently serves as the President for the Sigma Chi fraternity, treasurer of the Honors Program and a member of the JU Sailing team. To build on his knowledge from the internship, Harr is hoping to have another fulfilling internship experience next summer.

Perryman stands in front of  skyline in Shanghai, China.
Frank Perryman stands in front of skyline in Shanghai, China.

•  Frank Perryman, an international business major from Pittsburgh, Pa., completed an internship with RTI International in Suzhou, China, this summer. RTI is a titanium manufacturing company that works primarily in the areas of medical equipment and aerospace. Perryman discovered the opportunity through a family friend and was excited about its location because of a previous trip to Asia with other JU students and faculty members, Dr. Doug Johansen and Dr. Maggie Foley, a native of China.

“There are a lot of opportunities in Asia in business and I felt like it was a great way for me to truly learn about business in a global context,” Perryman said.

During his experience, Perryman worked as an inside sales/office intern where he researched prospective sales locations within China and completed sales projections utilizing data modeling.

“It was great to be able to utilize my knowledge from the classroom in a real format,” said Perryman. “I was able to utilize skills from my DSIM (Decision Science-Information Management) courses, which involved a lot of work in Excel.”

He cannot wait to return to Asia, with hopes of a trip this winter and the prospect of another internship in Shanghai next summer.

“If students have a chance to study abroad, whether it is a short trip, semester or for an internship, it is completely worth it,” Perryman added. “I feel having an international experience is the best thing you could do during your college career.”