Internships pave career paths for students
Erskine College senior Ford Blanchard interned this summer with one of the largest accounting firms in the Southeast. “I had an absolutely incredible experience working with Elliott Davis,” he said.
The business administration major from Orangeburg, who serves as treasurer of SGA, is one of many Erskine students who have gained experience through internships.
“The Erskine faculty and staff are committed to assisting students with obtaining internships,” Coordinator for Student Transitions Trent Payne said.
Blanchard said he found his internship by working with Assistant Professor of Business Administration Karen Mattison. “Accounting firms have summer leadership seminars where they place internships for the following summer,” he said. “I enrolled in the summer leadership program with Elliott Davis that led me to my internship.”
Working with clients, traveling to participate in on-site audits, and even engaging in community outreach were all elements of Blanchard’s two-month term at the well-known accounting firm.
“Elliott Davis did an excellent job making the interns feel like they were first-year staff,” Blanchard said. “I learned more working at Elliott Davis than I could have learned from a textbook.”
Payne works in the area formerly known as career services in the Student Services Office. He said he has seen statistics that support an emphasis on experiencing the world of work before graduation from college.
“Consistently, employers and recent college graduate surveys mention the value of internships—experience outside the classroom—especially for gaining soft skills, those personal attributes that enable you to interact effectively and harmoniously with other people,” he said.
Blanchard said the interns at Elliott Davis volunteered at the Boys and Girls Club of Columbia, Harvest Hope Food Bank, and the Giving Tree. “These activities showed us how important it is to give back to the communities that give to us.”
Payne cited a Rutgers University survey of 571 graduates in which 47 percent said they should have done more internships. But Blanchard will have no such regrets.
“I have accepted an offer from Elliott Davis to come back next summer and intern again!”
A message from Trent Payne to students interested in securing internships: “Students will have to work for it, but we can provide contacts and resources to assist them. To start the process, please contact a faculty member in your major or contact me in Student Services—email@example.com or 864-379-8725.”