Criminology student Ashley Wichern

USFSM internships valuable in advancing careers, education

By: Rich Shopes

Posted: April 11, 2018

SARASOTA, Fla. (April 11, 2018) – Internships provide real-world training, open doors to graduate school and lead to career opportunities. Just ask USF Sarasota-Manatee students Ashley Wichern, Stephen Bui and Marc-Henry Jean.

The three students credit their internships for creating a range of opportunities as they transition to the next chapter of their lives. Wichern said an internship helped her stand out from other job applicants.

A criminology student set to graduate in May, Wichern is finishing a year-long, paid internship assisting USFSM researchers Dr. Jean Kabongo and Dr. Jessica Grosholz in a study of how entrepreneurial training impacts inmates.

The study, which has Wichern, 22, accompanying the professors each week to the Hardee Correctional Institution, caught the eye of interviewers at the Sarasota County Jail where she applied for a civilian property clerk job.

“It was a big reason they brought me in for an interview,” she said.

Wichern said the internship, which officially ends May 7 when she graduates, compelled her be observant of the inmates, attuned to their discussions and to be meticulous in her note-taking – skills that translate to the property clerk position.

Likewise, the year-long experience could help when Wichern seeks admission to graduate school in the fall. She said she wants to earn a master’s degree in criminal justice to pursue a career in rehabilitative programming at jails and prisons. The internship should strengthen her admissions application, she said.

“The main thing is you can learn all you want from text books, but going out into the real world is just a whole different experience, a different kind of learning,” she said. “The internship really helped me in that regard.”

USFSM internships valuable in advancing careers, education

Stephen Bui

IT student Stephen Bui, 21, is just starting his internship.

A couple of months ago, Assistant Professor of Information Technology Dr. Giti Javidi sent a request for a research assistant through Ben Heins, coordinator of internships and service learning. Bui jumped at the opportunity because it combined his robotics and computer programming interests.

Specifically, the third-year student is being tasked with creating and uploading programs to Dr. Javidi’s NAO robot. In doing so, he’ll be helping the professor to potentially develop a new programming course for IT students.

“I’ll be writing down steps of what I’m doing,” he said. “As I’m progressing and recording these steps for lessons in the labs, other students will be able to see what I was doing and build on what I was able to learn.”

NAO (pronounced “now”) is an autonomous humanoid robot. It stands about two-feet high and can walk, talk, grasp objects and undertake some complex movements like dancing.

Bui’s internship started last week and runs 15 weeks. He said he expects most of that time will involve working at home writing computer code, but some of it will be spent on campus working directly with Dr. Javidi and the robot to input programs.

That suits Bui just fine. As each command is perfected, he’ll be able to witness the effects of his work once the code is uploaded.

“The idea of bringing something to life, seeing that response, that immediate feedback to my work, that really attracted me to the internship,” he said. “When I first saw the posting I thought this is something I can really get into, something I can do to sharpen my computer skills and robotics skills.

“Hopefully I can learn a lot from this experience,” he said.

USFSM internships valuable in advancing careers, education

Marc-Henry Jean

Marc-Henry Jean, a business student set to graduate this fall, is hoping his upcoming internship paves the way to a full-time corporate job.

A native of Haiti, Jean, 30, worked as journalist before traveling to Paris and then the United States to focus on a business degree. He said he marvels at the opportunities in the United States and takes nothing for granted. That extends to his customer service job at Publix, as well as his upcoming internship at the company’s headquarters in Lakeland.

Starting mid-May, Jean will work as a Support Associate Relations Intern in Publix’s Human Resources Department, responsible for: conducting employment-related investigations and providing recommendations to supervisors; assisting in the selection of new support associates; conducting analysis of turnover; and providing recommendations and findings from associate surveys and human resources-related initiatives.

Upbeat and hopeful, Jean sees the internship as a potential stepping stone to a corporate management career as he nears graduation. So far, he’s attained an impressive 3.67 GPA. He’ll take one course over the fall, Statistics II, before finishing up. Otherwise, he plans to throw himself into the internship to impress his supervisors. The new job will run from May 21 to Aug. 4.

“I would love to get out and shine to prove myself as a talented professional,” he said.

Note: Students can learn more about internships on Friday. USFSM’s Career Services Office will hold a Career Connections Day at Manatee County government offices in downtown Bradenton from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Students will board a van at USFSM and travel to the county’s offices. The event will include one-on-one talks with representatives of government, tours of the county facility and lunch. Students from all majors are encouraged to attend. The county has several job and summer internship openings. To register, visit USFSM’s Office of Career Services.

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