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Internships helps Monmouth students land more jobs

Barry McNamara
For a growing number of Monmouth students, an internship provides valuable preparation for their first post-graduate employment.
According to Marnie Dugan, MC’s assistant director of external relations, 65 percent of Monmouth’s Class of 2012 reported completing at least one internship as a student. That is higher than the 55 percent figure reported in a survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE).
“Internships offer an opportunity for students to set themselves apart from their peers during the job search process, while also enabling them to build their professional network,” said Dugan. “Our office works with Monmouth College alumni to continue to provide greater opportunities for students to get connected.” 
Assisted by the college’s Wackerle Career and Leadership Center, one member of Monmouth’s Class of 2012, Michael Howard, earned an internship with Deere and Company immediately following his graduation and then had another last summer while studying for his master’s degree at the University of Illinois-Springfield.
In the summer after his graduation, Howard interned for the company in Fargo, N.D., working at John Deere Electronic Solutions. Last summer, Howard was in Iowa, working at John Deere Waterloo Works, a large tractor manufacturing facility. He assisted the company’s operations accounting staff on large capital projects and helped monitor them to ensure that their goals and objectives were met.
“In college, you learn the rules and the theory behind how to cost products or account for them, but over the past two summers, I have actually seen those things in practice,” he said. “Just by listening or talking with others about their positions within accounting, you can really get a good understanding of a company the size of Deere and all of its different parts.”
Howard appreciates the education he received at Monmouth, and he also credits the college’s Wackerle Career & Leadership Center for helping him secure his internship, which has led to a full-time position at Deere when he completes his graduate studies next spring.
“The accounting department and professors Judy Peterson and Frank Gersich helped prepare us for the actual internship through our class work,” he said. “They also helped get us in touch with several Monmouth alumni who work for Deere. The Wackerle Center helped me when it came time to the interview process and résumé building. Prior to my Deere interviews, the Wackerle Center had informed us of an interview day for different internships. While Deere was not at that event, I learned more from my first interview than anything else, and I am sure I would not have performed as well in my Deere interview if the Wackerle Center hadn’t told us about that event.”
Aaron Bromeland, a senior from Newark, also interned at John Deere Electronic Solutions, working on the company’s fixed asset audit.
“That involved tracking down all of the capital assets at the plant,” he explained. “I also worked on an inventory audit to make sure the perpetual inventory system was working correctly. My third project was updating an internal website that has financial data on it.”
Bromeland, too, praised the help he received from the Wackerle Center for helping to complete his résumé and preparing him for the behavior interview process that Deere uses. Bromeland has also learned he will be hired by the company following his graduation next May. In addition to Howard, two other members of the Class of 2012 will soon be working for Deere – Dennis Barr and Ky Claes.
“John Deere seeks intern candidates that have the technical knowledge for their field of study, strong verbal and written communication skills, and students who have shown they can successfully lead,” said Jackie Zachmeyer, a 1989 Monmouth graduate and the finance director for the company’s Construction and Forestry division. She is also a member of her alma mater’s board of trustees. “Monmouth provides opportunities for students to excel in all three of these areas – academics, communication and leadership. In addition, the Monmouth students have similar values to John Deere’s four core values of integrity, quality, commitment and innovation.” 
Networking with alumni can often provide employment opportunities, and Patrick Dabbs of Yorkville is a good example. Alex Melvin, a 2005 Monmouth graduate and president of Rural King, visited campus last year and brought his company’s human resources director with him. While Melvin spoke to business classes, the HR director conducted interviews, and Dabbs received an internship with the company based on his interview.
“Alumni connections definitely help,” said Dugan, who reported that Dabbs, who is now a senior, was the first Monmouth student to receive an internship at Rural King.
Placed at its Plano store, Dabbs was charged with carrying out “the day-to-day operations of the company. “My most rewarding work,” he said, “was my project on front-end inventory shrinkage, using the Plano store as a case study. When I presented my findings to company leaders at corporate, I placed strong emphasis on material utilization of point of sale reports for shrinkage control. The vice president of operations plans on having my presentation adapted into training webinar.”
Dabbs said the experience helped him develop technical skills related to business, such as “the comprehension and utilization of data to solve business problems. It has also helped me develop my communication skills and, perhaps most importantly, my management skills.”
Like Howard and Bromeland, Dabbs acknowledged the assistance he received from the Wackerle Center.
“I had never created a résumé before, but they really helped me, especially Marnie Dugan. She connected me with the appropriate people and basically guided me through the process, as it was my first time applying for an internship. I will undoubtedly be using the Wackerle Center this year as I prepare to enter the job field.”