Learning Beyond The Classroom
MSC Students Experience The World of Work
By Renee Pearman
Esther Suarez, a Macon State College junior working toward a bachelor's
degree in business, admits she could not have picked a better time
than spring to do her accounting internship.
Yes, it's hectic at the firm of James F. Leach CPA during income
tax season, but the work experience is invaluable, and, Suarez said,
that's what an internship is all about.
"This opportunity is wonderful. I'm getting real business
experience in conjunction with classroom lecture, and I'm getting
used to the hectic pace in this type work environment," said
Suarez, who received an associate's degree in business from Macon
State in 1997, then decided to continue working on a bachelor's
degree in business & information technology. "I think the
experience that comes from an internship helps you hone your skills."
James Martin, like Suarez, is enrolled in a three-credit hour elective
internship course for those majoring in accounting. Under the supervision
of the Business Administration Division faculty, students select companies
or organizations in the public or private sector where they would
like to complete 40-hour per week internships for an entire semester.
Similar courses are offered to management and marketing majors, respectively.
Communications major Kelly Jones, shown
with Macon Magazine publisher James Palmer, is interning at
Martin, who is interning at Howard, Moore & McDuffie CPA firm,
said he has averaged 50 hours per week during March and April, but
he's not complaining. "Interning gives you a realistic idea
of what you are actually studying," he said. "After all,
not all learning takes place in the classroom."
No truer words were spoken, said Foster Goff, an associate professor
in Macon State's Division of Business Administration. While accounting
principles, financial procedures, managerial concepts and inventory
methodology are part of classroom instruction, internships allow
students to get actual experience in a business environment.
"Interning gives our students a glimpse into the real world,"
Goff said, "and just as important, it gives employers a glimpse
of our students. In addition, students can start making choices
about what career path they want to follow. Internships give them
a chance to feel out what their niche is without having to make
a job change later."
Goff cites an example of a business student who completed an internship
with an auditing firm only to conclude that accounting was not for
him. He elected to study another branch of business.
Developing Leadership Skills
On the other hand, Kelly Jones' internship with Macon Magazine
has convinced her that she is following the right career path.
A new media major in the four-year communications & information
technology (CIT) program, the 23-year-old Jones spends her afternoons
designing ads and laying out pages. She also occasionally sells
ads for Macon Magazine publishers James and Jodi Palmer, and her
book reviews have appeared in several issues.
"There is no way you can tell about a job in a classroom,"
Jones said. "An internship lets you see if that is what you
really want to do. You take what you learn in class that morning
and apply it in an actual work setting that afternoon. For me, that's
one of the best ways to learn."
Jones first enrolled at Macon State in 1996 after graduating from
Tattnall Square Academy in Macon, but personal obligations interrupted
her studies. "I didn't think I was going to be able to get
back to school, then my favorite professor, Dr. Gwen Sell, told
me about the new four-year communcations program, and that brought
me back," said Jones, who will complete her bachelor's degree
later this year.
This spring she is taking six classes and balancing two internships,
one at Macon Magazine and the other with the Matrix, Macon State's
student newspaper. She and Chris Hood, who also is a CIT major,
are co-editors. Both said the experience has helped them develop
stronger leadership skills.
"This is my second year working on the Matrix," Hood
said. "I've learned a lot in that time. I think this experience
has helped me to better develop my leadership ability and organizational
skills. And, besides improving my writing and editing, I've learned
how to work with different personalities, I've learned how to set
and meet deadlines, and I've learned a lot about budgeting."
The communications internships are elective courses, said Dr. Robert
Kelly, chair of the Division of Humanities.
"We encourage our students to take advantage of these opportunities
to practice what they've learned in the CIT program ÐÐ the
written, verbal and technological skills ÐÐ and apply them
in a practical setting," Kelly said. "I think this experience
shows our students that their academic training is useful and valuable,
and it shows the employers that our students do have the practical
know-how to do the job."
Students are expected to work about 10 hours a week on their internship,
according to Kelly. They keep a "log" of the time they
put in and the kinds of activities they perform in a journal that
is a required course assignment. "They write about the problems
they encounter, their solutions to those problems, their accomplishments
and their frustrations," he said.
Additionally, in consultation with their instructor, students compile
a portfolio that is reviewed at the end of the course. This portfolio,
Kelly said, is especially useful to the student and any prospective
employer who wishes to see tangible evidence of the kind of skills
that CIT students possess.
Renee Martinez's journal chronicles her experience as editor of
the student literary magazine, Fall Line Review, from her review
of submissions to design ideas to editorial decisions.
"My internship has given me the opportunity to get involved
with the publishing of a magazine from start to finish, something
I may be asked to do in my future career," said Martinez, who
earned an associate's degree in journalism at Macon State in 1999.
She will graduate with a bachelor's degree in communications &
information technology in May.
Martinez actually started her journalism career at Northside High
School in Warner Robins during her senior year when she was co-editor
of the student newspaper and a member of the yearbook staff. When
she arrived at Macon State College in 1997, she began writing for
the student newspaper and later served as its feature editor, copy
editor and layout editor. This is her second year as managing editor
of Fall Line Review.
Not only is Martinez a full-time student, she also is a full-time
journalist. After covering the education beat for two years at The
Daily Sun, she now is a page designer and special assignment reporter
for the Warner Robins-based newspaper. She started there in 1996
as a part-time typist in the newsroom. While she already has earned
her stripes as a newspaper journalist, she credits her communications
internship with preparing her for another area of print media ÐÐ
magazine writing, editing and designing.
For the Fall Line Review, "with the help of Traci Burns, who's
serving as my associate editor, I've had to choose the selections
to be published, edit them, choose a printing company, design the
look of the magazine as well as do the layout, arrange the cover
art and keep our finances straight in the meantime," Martinez
said. "I've learned that the process is much more extensive
and intensive than I had anticipated it being. Regardless, I've
enjoyed it and I've learned that it's a task not beyond my capabilities."
Health Program Internships
While the CIT internships are electives, those for health services
administration and health information management are required for
Currently, juniors and seniors in the four-year Health Services
Administration program are completing internships at the Medical
Center of Central Georgia, the Medical Center's Neighborhood Health
Clinic, the Houston Healthcare Complex in Warner Robins, the Perry
Hospital, the Fort Valley Hospital, Healthcare Business Solutions,
Robins Air Force Base Medical Center and area nursing homes, according
to Bill Hervey, assistant professor of health services administration.
All students must complete a health services administration internship
in a health care setting as part of the requirements for completion
of the degree, said Dr. David Berry, who described the health services
administration internship as a structured experience that is faculty
arranged and faculty supervised.
"This is a mainstream part of our academic program that is evaluated
by our accrediting agency, the Association of University Programs
in Health Care Administration," said Berry, director of Macon
State's health services administration program. "These are academic
experiences for which the student earns credit."
Steven Wilson, right, is an IT intern
in the Houston County District Attorney's office in Perry.
Here he talks with chief assistant D.A. Katie Lumsden and
chief investigator Tommy Wright.
LaTrina Harvey will earn six hours of credit during spring and
summer terms working as a health services administration intern
in the Houston Healthcare Complex's human resources department.
The Houston Healthcare Complex, which employs more than 1,400 people,
is comprised of the Houston Medical Center in Warner Robins, where
the human resources department is based, the Perry Hospital, two
Med-Stops and several other medical facilities in Houston County.
"This opportunity has been absolutely wonderful," said
Harvey, a 1995 graduate of Crawford County Comprehensive High School.
Her key responsibility as an intern in the HR department is to help
coordinate the installation of new software that will manage all
human resources functions, from insurance and benefits to recruiting
and training. She meets with HR staff members to learn what they
do and what their software needs are, then she serves as a liaison
between the HR department and the company installing the software
to make sure the staff's needs are met.
"My internship has given me an opportunity to gain work experience
in a field I'm interested in while at the same time earning college
credit," Harvey said. "It lets me see what I like and
what I don't like about a career I'm interested in, and, so far,
I think I'm on the right track."
Dena Hudgins, director of human resources at the Houston Healthcare
Complex, called the internship a win-win situation. "This has
proven to be a very positive experience for us and a very positive
experience for the students," said Hudgins, who worked closely
with Macon State's health services administration faculty to arrange
internships at the Houston Healthcare Complex. "I think this
is a great experience for students trying to decide on a career,
plus it gives us a chance to see the student's skill level and communication
To complete their internships, students working toward a bachelor's
degree in health information management must spend a total of 160
hours off campus at an internship arranged by faculty.
"All health information management students must take (the
internship course) plus two clinicals in order to graduate,"
said Charlotte McCuen, clinical coordinator for the health information
management and health information technology programs at Macon State
College. "These internships are important because students
get to see how it's done, witness the process of decision making
and really apply everything they've learned."
This spring, Andrea Johnson-Mignott is spending 40 hours per week
interning at the Henry Medical Center in McDonough. "I've learned
so much," she reported to McCuen.
Like Myriam Johnson, who is interning at Macon Northside Hospital,
and Charmica Kelly, an HIMA intern at the Carl Vinson Veterans Administration
Medical Center in Dublin, Johnson-Mignott must give an oral presentation
on her experience and keep a journal that includes her interviews
with health information management personnel at the medical facility
where she is interning.
"We are taking what we learn in the classroom and applying
it to job situations. It gives us a better feel of what it's like
to work in the real world, the world outside the classroom,"
said Kelly, whose responsibilities at the VA Hospital include working
on an evaluation of the hospital's computerized patient records
and helping set up policies and procedures for scanning all paper
"An internship helps students realize how they must draw on
everything they've learned in order to come up with a solution to
a problem," said Nanette Sayles, director of Macon State's
HIMA program. "It also re-enforces what they've learned, which
helps them prepare for their national registration exam."
Richard Malone is administrative coordinator for IT internships
in Macon State College's School of Information Technology, and
???? serve as IT technical coordinators, working closely with the
130 students interning during part of the 2000-2001 academic year.
Internships are required for all IT majors who have completed junior-level
courses. Malone helps them find an internship in the track in which
they are majoring: computer programming, database administration,
networking & communication systems, multimedia & web technology,
systems analysis and educational technology.
Amoung the Central Georgia businesses working with Macon State's
IT interns include IKON Office Solutions, Georgia Farm Bureau, ComputerLogic
Inc., the Medical Center of Central Georgia, Blue Bird Body Corporation,
Lucent Technologies, The Macon Telegraph, Georgia Forestry Commission,
Crawford County Elementary School, Adroit Systems Inc. and Oglethrope
"Our IT students are required to complete 225 intern hours
in a 15-week semester. Most average about 15 hours per week,"
Malone said. "About half end up staying on with the company
after their internship is finished."
Kim Paulk, who is following the educational technology track, likes
her internship location, Macon State College's Office of Technology
Support Services where she is a multimedia accessibility consultant
developing "help" instruction menus for the campus computers.
"An internship gives you a leg-up on job opportunities and
provides opportunity for networking with others," said Paulk,
a full-time evening student who spends about 20 hours per week in
Technology Support Services. "I'm learning to write HTML code
and making web materials accessible for the handicap."
When she completes her bachelor's degree in IT next year, Paulk,
who is visually and hearing impaired, wants to find employment in
technology services at a college or large company. "I want
to help my employer make its online and physical learning/work environments
accessible to those with disabilities," she said.
Larry Hammond's IT internship also is at the college, in the Office
of Student Life where he updates and maintains web pages and is
helping create a database for tracking student activities funds.
"I think that the practical job knowledge gained by students
doing internships will help them move into the job market,"
A native of Wilmington, Del., Hammond enrolled at Macon State in
1999 not long after retiring from the U.S. Air Force after 22 years
of service. He is president of the MSC Black Student Unification/Minority
Advising and Achievement Program and vice president of the Student
Government Association. A full-time student, he will graduate in
December with a bachelor's degree in IT.
"I think internships are especially important for younger
students because it gives them a chance to learn how the business
world really works and how to deal with people in a professional
environment. They learn how to get along with all types of co-workers,
how to approach a supervisor, how to deal with difficult customers,"
Hammond continued. "Plus, they develop social skills, communication
skills and leadership skills, which they may not always learn in
Kim Holder, a 1995 graduate of Northside High School in Warner
Robins, is a multimedia major interning at WCOP/WAFI, Christian
radio stations in Houston County.
"I've been building web pages for the stations," said
the 23-year-old. "My internship has given me the chance to
work with an actual company. By being here at the stations, I'm
learning about their image and culture, which helps me to determine
how to meet their needs."
Jennifer Bertolino, another multimedia major, is doing her internship
from home, which is the experience she was seeking. She is designing
web pages for Jonathan Metal Werkz in Alhambre, Calif. The company
is owned by her brother who creates art pieces from metal.
LaTrina Harvey, right, a health services
administration major, discusses a project with Dena Hudgins,
director of the Houston Healthcare Complex's human resources
office, where Harvey is interning.
"This internship really works for me because my goal is to
work from my home," said the Crawford County resident. "I'm
learning self-discipline, organization, responsibility and how to
At age 56, Stephen Wilson finds himself doing an IT internship
with the Houston County District Attorney's Office, located in Perry.
"This is a 'career change' for me," said Wilson, who lives
in Warner Robins. "I decided to study information technology
because of my personal interest in computers and because of the
publicized shortage of trained professionals in this field."
Wilson has re-designed the Houston County D.A.'s website, installed
new computer software, configured the DSL modem, assisted with network
administration and "helped with trouble shooting small daily
problems with individual computers."
IT senior Julia Owens, who graduates in December, already has completed
125 hours interning with the Georgia Forestry Commission, and now
she is creating a website for a local chapter of the Toastmasters'
At the Forestry Commission, she "cleaned up" HTML coding
on the Forestry web pages, redesigned several pages and learned
about client-server sites/pages. For the Toastmasters, she is designing
a functional website that is appealing, easy to navigate and offers
limited database functions.
"With both of my internships, I have received direct hands-on
experience in web page design," Owens said. "My immediate
supervisor at the Georgia Forestry Commission, Ron Bixbe, showed
me how the need arose for a particular database, the information
that had to be collected in order to create the database, how the
DB would be maintained and updated, how the DB would be accessed
by the foresters through the website and how the information would
be collected. I knew the basics of what he was telling me, but there
was so much that I did not understand, which was exactly what the
internship was all about ÐÐ take what you know and grow
"There is no doubt in my mind that my internships have enhanced
my class studies. It is great to be able to take the classroom to
the 'real world,' which is also a learning environment. To be able
to take my classroom studies to a business and apply them and come
back to class asking questions has enriched my learning experience."
This fall, Macon State College introduces its newest baccalaureate
degree, public service, with a major in human services, which is
targeted toward students with career interests in the "helping
professions" associated with public or private agencies. Like
the four-year programs in business, communications, health information
management, health services administration and information technology,
public service includes an internship component.