Where am I?
Think Outside the Books
Your education doesn’t stop just because you close the textbook or leave the classroom. In fact, Fontbonne University believes that some of the best knowledge comes from experience — practicums, internships and job shadowing within your field of study, in St. Louis and beyond.
We build this experience into every undergraduate degree program we offer, from sports management to early childhood education, so that you begin developing your professional portfolio even before you graduate. Fontbonne has connected students with successful internships in companies large and small, local and international.
Are you ready to think outside the books? Think Fontbonne University.
Hometown: Des Peres, Mo.
Major: Cyber Security
Interned at: Intelligence and Analysis Division of Homeland Security
I've always been interested in computers and when I started at Fontbonne University, I focused my education on cyber security specifically. The Department of Homeland Security was an internship opportunity I couldn’t pass up.
Of course, I couldn’t do all of those cool things you may be familiar with from movies or common knowledge because I was an intern — not an agent or someone with the security clearance. But I was able to experience a lot of different things. The best way to describe my main duties was as the “behind-the-scenes” guy. There was paper work, computer research, and system learning and usage.
One of the things that first surprised me was the collaboration between the different agencies involved with the Department of Homeland Security. I witnessed firsthand direct communication between Homeland Security, the FBI, and, specifically, the Vermont State Police. I was expecting the relationship between the agencies to be a little bit more competitive. I thought the agencies didn’t talk to each other much, but that’s not the case. They all communicate very closely to stay in touch on security initiatives and issues. In addition, another surprising factor was the resources the department utilizes. It’s not all hidden, high-tech systems you would never think about or consider. A large majority of the resources used are publicly available resources. The agency uses these resources in a more sophisticated way, but it’s not all secret, unknown software no one would know about.
I definitely, without a doubt, was able to apply everything I’ve learned in my cyber security and computer courses. In the technology world, there are abbreviations for everything and you need to know them. Fontbonne also prepared me well for learning several computer systems and understanding them. I can say that I am very fluent in that respect and have no fear in conversation with others in the industry who have been in the professional workforce much longer than myself.
With this internship, I got to dive in firsthand without having to jump through so many hoops. When I graduate, I feel confident that I can not only say ‘yes, I have a good education,” but also from a theoretical sense 'I've been here, I’ve done this.'
Hometown: Hazelwood, Mo.
Major: Fashion Merchandising
Interned at: GAP, Chicago, Ill.
Try something new. Don’t be afraid to accept a challenge. That’s what I did by stepping outside my comfort zone to work at Gap’s flagship store on Michigan Avenue in Chicago — where the standard of visual merchandising is set for all other stores, including displays, windows and product placement.
I loved Chicago and the exposure it gave me to everything new — a new working environment and lots of new people. I didn’t know what to expect, but I was fortunate to learn from three managers at the district, regional and corporate levels. Each taught me what works best from different perspectives. It also gave me a sneak peek at potential jobs in my future, which was very exciting.
The classroom prepared me for a professional role, and now I feel excited, motivated and challenged to move beyond college and into the professional world.
Hometown: Mascoutah, Ill.
Major: Social Work
Interned at: St. Louis University Psychiatric Hospital
This was my first practicum, and it was an incredible experience. I shadowed two social workers at the St. Louis University Psychiatric Hospital — a lockdown facility. It was a tough job and definitely not right for everyone, but it was perfect for me. Being able to help others is very rewarding.
During the practicum, I was able to learn a lot more about social work in general, especially in the hospital setting. Part of my time was spent with patients doing initial interviews, 30-day assessments and discharge paperwork. The discharge interview gave us a chance to help make sure patients had a place to go and a plan for treatment once they left the facility. One phenomenal opportunity I had was navigating the legal system and going to court to advocate for patients. Overall, it was an excellent program, and I loved the experience.
Home Country: Honduras
Major: Computer Science
Interned at: Rexnord Industries
During my internship with Rexnord Industries (Milwaukee, Wis.), I worked on a large project overhauling an outdated catalog. The company then asked me to translate the catalog into Spanish, requiring me to learn new design software in less than two weeks – which I did. I proved that I could handle the job myself rather than sending it out-of-house, saving the company a great deal of money.
Fontbonne emphasized that work ethic and professionalism are key in a work setting. It was a great compliment for me to be recognized as Rexnord’s first employee of the month and to learn that I far exceeded their expectations as an intern.
Before I transferred to Fontbonne, I had no computer experience, but in just two and a half years, I’ve gained so much — in the classroom, on the job and through my own initiative. If I hadn’t learned what I did in class, I may not have had the courage to continue learning on my own and get where I am today. I’d advise anyone with an opportunity for an internship, paid or unpaid, to take it without hesitation.
Hometown: Florissant, Mo.
Major: Early Childhood
Interned at: Head Start
Shadowing the center coordinator for Head Start showed me what it takes to run an
early childhood center. It includes paperwork,
payroll, enrollment and finding employees to fill in for staff members who miss work, even if you have to do it yourself.
I learned what it takes to be a leader in this field.You need to be able to compromise and help everyone with his or her unique problems, and, at the same time, be prepared to switch priorities at a moment’s notice. And it takes a lot of patience to handle a classroom full of children — 20 different kids means that there are 20 different personalities and attitudes.
It’s exciting to find a practicum that’s related to what you want to do — and I know this is something I want to do — but it can be tiring trying to juggle all of your own personal responsibilities, as well, especially when you have a family. The opportunity and experience, however, are well worth the effort.
Hometown: Rolla, Mo.
Major: Business Administration with a Marketing concentration
Interned at: Saint Louis Science Center
During my internship, I was responsible for implementing a new Saint Louis Science Center program, Kids’ Club, and marketing its membership to families throughout St. Louis. I worked with a true professional who challenged me to think and figure problems out for myself. She relied on me to be independent. I traveled all over the city and worked a lot of events, like Taste of St. Louis, Cardinal’s games and days at Grant’s Farm.
In the office, I learned how to communicate with various departments, like graphic design and public relations. All the departments interacted with each other on some level, so I shadowed other areas to see how they connected with marketing. The people I worked with reflected the qualities of top-notch businessmen and women. My supervisor was always on her toes and was very reliable, and she gave me great advice.
As a student, I believe it’s important to take internships, because when you graduate, it’s not always about the degree you have, but the experience you’ve gained. I’d highly recommend interning — and at more than one place, if possible. Each business or organization offers a different environment, one you might not understand until you experience it.