Using their innovative technology skills, Penn State students are working to establish a better connection between Pennsylvania businesses and the online community.
A new internship program allows Information Technology Services students to work with businesses in Pennsylvania to help promote their online presence and further their marketing capabilities.
The Pennsylvania Technical Assistance Program at Penn State is the liaison between the student interns and the businesses they work for.
The internship focuses on helping businesses use the Internet to make themselves more marketable and more competitive, said Donna Yale, the senior technical specialist for PennTAP.
Over the summer, six businesses in central Pennsylvania employed interns through the program with great success, Yale said. Some of the tasks interns faced were establishing a more prominent web presence, helping with physical networking, and utilizing of “the cloud.”
“The cloud” is a remote data storage system and can be accessed from any device.
One of the companies located in State College that benefited from having an IT student intern this past summer was Bright Box Ideas, which specializes in Internet marketing and web consultation. The company is owned and operated by three Penn State alumni.
Co-owner of Bright Box Ideas, Mark Posteraro, said the intern, Robert Walter (junior- marketing and French) was put to work immediately and hit the ground running.
Walter agreed, remembering that on his first day he was immediately given tasks to work on, like beginning to manage small business websites and web startups, but progressively took on more responsibility.
By the end of the 10-week internship, Walter said he was co-managing a blog marketing-campaign for MexAmerica, a major tortilla company.
Walter said he would orchestrate contests, product reviews, and giveaways for MexAmerica through the blogs. He would then organize the responses from participants and forward them to the company.
“I was able to let him go work without oversight and he handled it well and cordially,” Posteraro said. “[Walter] accepted hard tasks and now has a number of items to show in his portfolio and resume.”
Walter said he gained valuable experience to put on his resume thanks to his work from this internship.
The benefit of working for a small business, contrary to a major company that many students hope for is that you become an integral part of the operations of the business, Walter said.
“I actually had a role, like they needed my work,” Walter said. “One important thing I learned was how to work for a company and also work for yourself.”
The internship is paid, but PennTAP splits the expenses with the employers courtesy of funding from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development.
The funding from DCED is used primarily in three areas: to help place student IT interns with businesses, to fund the work being done by Yale to assist businesses and also to develop an online course for IT professionals, Yale said.
Yale said that they are awaiting the return surveys from businesses that participated, but she was confident that there were mutual benefits from the summer.
The goal for the internship next summer will be to pair 20 interns with businesses throughout Pennsylvania, said Yale, who looks forward to seeing more businesses experience this win-win situation.