Lauren France says her internship helped her decide her career path.

USF Sarasota-Manatee internships offer real-world training

By: Rich Shopes

Posted: November 13, 2018

SARASOTA, Fla. (Nov. 13, 2018) – Internships provide real-world training, enhance career plans and open doors to opportunities. Just ask USF Sarasota-Manatee students Lauren France, Brianna Graber and Sami Araboghli.

All three say internships helped them map out their careers while providing training and contacts to assist their transition to the next chapter of their lives. France is a case in point. The 19-year-old’s love of the ocean was kindled during childhood fishing trips with her grandfather, and never let go.

USF Sarasota-Manatee internships offer real-world training

Lauren France

“For as long as I can remember I’ve been obsessed with aquatic life and the ocean,” she said.

Throughout high school, she volunteered in the education department at the Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium. After enrolling in biology at USFSM, she was convinced a biology-centric career was in her future. However, she was unsure about her next move – until an internship with Mote’s animal-rehabilitation team provided clarity.

Now she interns twice weekly at the Sarasota-based laboratory, assisting in surgeries, tending to sick and injured marine life and participating in “releases,” where recuperated animals are returned to the ocean. The experiences have made a difference in ways traditional classroom lessons never could, she said, adding that she’s certain now where to direct her focus: veterinary medicine.

Her path became clear after watching Mote’s veterinarians in action.

“It was so much fun watching the surgeries,” she said. “Before, I was confused about what I wanted to do, but I knew I wanted to do something in the marine field. When I did the internship, it encouraged me to follow my heart and ultimately showed me the path I needed to take.”

Brianna Graber, a 22-year-old marketing student, can relate. Harboring an interest in photography and writing since childhood, Graber said she wanted a career that allows her to express her creativity. She found it in marketing.

“As I’ve grown older, I’ve become very passionate about engaging with people on a professional and business level, and I feel that marketing allows me to do that,” Graber said. “I love the variety of marketing.”

USF Sarasota-Manatee internships offer real-world training

Brianna Graber

Nearing graduation, the senior approached Ben Heins, coordinator of internships and service learning at USFSM, about applying her marketing skills in a work setting off campus. Heins arranged for an interview with the general manager at the Resort at Longboat Key Club, who offered Graber an internship in the marketing department.

Graber, who’s on track to graduate in the spring, now works two days a week assisting the social media coordinator and graphics team. She said the job is a departure from her classroom experience and on-campus job in Student Government.

“It’s helped me to see things from a difference perspective,” Graber said. “I’m learning something new every day. I can tell the team really wants me to succeed, and they really make an effort to call me when they think I can learn something. I can tell they truly care.”

Graber also enjoys the luxurious setting of her internship. The Resort at Longboat Key Club is consistently ranked as one of Florida’s top vacation resorts.

“It’s gorgeous, the whole environment, the drive over the bridge as sun reflects off the water, everything about it,” she said. “But I think the most outstanding thing is the culture of the Resort at Longboat Key Club.

“You can tell how much they care – about the associates, about the guests and about the resort itself,” she said. “They are consistently getting awards for being a green resort and for customer service and quality, and it shows in the culture. I feel so grateful to them, and to Ben, for this opportunity.”

Hopefully, she said, her experience at the resort will open doors as graduation approaches. She said she would love to continue working there and expanding her skills: “I want a job where I can be creative, and I really enjoy what I’m doing now.”

Sami Araboghli is grateful as well.

The Interdisciplinary Social Sciences major, with concentrations in criminology and government & global affairs, was considering a handful of public-service jobs, from diplomacy to international law to serving as a commissioned officer in the military.

USFSM students find success with internships

Sami Araboghli

Now, there’s another possibility to add to the mix: high-end security specialist. A U.S. Marine reservist, Araboghli interned for local Congressman Vern Buchanan before landing an internship this summer at Security Management International (SMI), a high-level security consulting and intelligence advisory firm outside Washington, D.C.

Now Araboghli sees his plans more clearly, including the possibility of participating in security and vulnerability assessments. Araboghli said he thoroughly enjoyed his experience at SMI. The company, operated by former intelligence officer Luke Bencie, creates security assessments and advises Fortune 500 companies, defense contractors and government agencies.

One of Araboghli’s tasks was to help perform a “threat and vulnerability assessment” for a Cambridge, Mass.-based company. Araboghli and SMI representatives visited the company, reviewed its security profile, looking for weaknesses, and wrote a report.

“It was very hands on and that’s what I enjoyed most with helping with the assessments,” he said. “The job involves critical thinking and thinking outside the box to identify strategies to improve safety and security.

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Araboghli with Luke Bencie

“I cannot express enough how grateful I am to Mr. Bencie for providing me with this opportunity,” Araboghli said. “It was an amazing experience. I’m also thankful to the Stoneybrook Golf and Country Club for their scholarship, which provided me with an opportunity to accept the internship.”

The internship allowed for some rare experiences, like meeting Gen. James Jones, former U.S. Marine Corps commandant, NATO supreme allied commander and President Obama’s national security advisor. But the highlight, he said, was collaborating with Bencie, SMI’s managing director, on an article published in the Harvard Business Review.

It turned out that Bencie, the author of “The CARVER Target Analysis and Vulnerability Assessment Methodology,” was working on an article about how CARVER can help business executives with key decisions when Araboghli came on board.

The article, “A 6-Part Tool for Ranking and Assessing Risks,” came out in September, a couple months after Araboghli’s internship wrapped up. It delves into CARVER’s decision-making techniques first employed by American bombardiers during World War II to assess targets.

According to a summary, “CARVER can help risk management professional think through an asset’s Criticality, Accessibility, Recoverability, Vulnerability, Effect and Recognizability (CARVER). Since it draws on both qualitative and quantitative data, CARVER can be applied in almost any scenario that is analyzed and discussed in an organized, logical way.”

The article included Araboghli’s byline along with Bencie’s. It was also published in the Journal of Counter Terrorism & Homeland Security International.

“Being involved in this article is probably one of the most prestigious and honorable things I’ve been asked to do during my time at USFSM,” Araboghli said.

“I think what I like most about internships is that they’re not only a learning experience, but they provide you with real-world work experience that prepares you for a career that matches your educational endeavors,” he said. “Most important, they can help you figure out whether a particular career field is suited for you, and I believe I found that during my time at SMI.”

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