Saint Leo University Students Experience Benefits of Internships
On National Intern Day (July 27), Saint Leo students and faculty share stories of gaining real-world knowledge and skills during internships.
Not only do Saint Leo University students have the benefit of studying with faculty members who have experience working in their fields, but they also must complete internships that provide real-world, hands-on experience. As National Intern Day is being celebrated on July 27, we take a look at some Saint Leo internship stories.
Importance of Internships
In the Tapia College of Business, accounting students “get to apply the theoretical knowledge gained in classrooms to actual accounting tasks and scenarios, giving them practical skills,” said Dr. Daniel Tschopp, director of graduate studies and chair of accounting, economics, finance, and sport business. “We have developed relationships with Global Big 4 CPA firms, large regional firms, and small local firms. While many students obtain internships in public accounting, some choose to get experience in private industry, government, or not-for-profit companies.
“The goal of our internship program is to help the students find the career path that interests them the most and that leads to a full-time position after they graduate,” Tschopp added.
For Nina Michelangelo, her spring internship resulted in great learning opportunities and job prospects.
Honors Program student Michelangelo graduated cum laude in May with a bachelor’s in accounting.
"Since interning with CliftonLarsonAllen (CLA) in the spring of 2023 I have been blessed with so many opportunities — the opportunity to meet and work with an amazing group of people, the opportunity to gain more knowledge, and the opportunity to apply the skills and education that I learned through Saint Leo's accounting program to real-life situations in the workplace,” Michelangelo said. “These opportunities have now turned into a potential career path that I plan to continue with CliftonLarsonAllen. I am forever grateful for the individuals who have helped me along the way and look forward to more opportunities to come."
Criminal justice major Victoria Hernandez is interning with the Orange County (FL) Sheriff’s Office this summer. She is going on patrols with officers, observing civilian positions, creating posts for the office’s social media platforms, and learning from many hands-on activities.
“Every two weeks, I am in a new department with the sheriff’s office so I can have an overview of how the whole agency works,” Hernandez said. “I have been learning how different officer and civilian positions work and how they help each other within major to minor situations. I went from going out to events with officers and civilians in ways to help the community to going on patrols and experiencing what officers deal with every day.”
And her internship is strengthening her belief that criminal justice is the field she wants to work in: “My future plans may start within this sheriff’s office after I graduate,” the Saint Leo junior stated. “I have always had a love for crime analysis and being here at this internship confirmed that this career path speaks to me.”
Senior Tayhana Taylor worked this summer with Deloitte and Touché in New York City as an audit and assurance intern in the firm’s commercial practice. “Throughout my internship, I was afforded many opportunities to build my professional network, hone in on key leadership skills, attend the firm’s leadership conference in Dallas, and receive mentorship from well-established CPAs," Taylor said.
Marco Calvo, who graduated magna cum laude in May, completed his internship at CliftonLarsonAllen. "My internship at the transaction service team at CLA was an eye-opening experience to other areas of accounting, besides tax and auditing; it was a great learning experience," Calvo said.
Varying Experiences, Locations
Saint Leo University students have many internship possibilities. “We have students complete internships in all sorts of amazing places,” said Dr. Michael Bailey, director of Career Services & Accessibility. “In the past year, we’ve had students intern at partners such as Deloitte, YKONE Las Vegas, Blooming Brands, Lexus of Wesley Chapel, [Department of] Veterans Affairs, and BayCare. We also try to practice what we preach, and we [Career Services & Accessibility] typically host anywhere from one to three interns per semester in our office.”
Junior criminal justice major Cristina Rodriguez Villalvir is completing her internship in Warsaw, Poland. “I am interning with a law firm in Poland, where my supervisor assigns me a task for the week,” she said. “Some of those tasks are to solve and analyze cases related to multiple areas of criminal law in different EU [European Union] state members. In my first two weeks, I learned about the EU law and the differences between France's and Poland's criminal systems. I also learned about the penalties for theft under the Polish penal code, and my supervisor assigned me to make a comparative analysis between the EU law and U.S. criminal system. I'm currently learning about money laundering through cryptocurrency.”
Her current future plan is to work with the Drug Enforcement Agency, gain knowledge and skills, and then go on to work for Interpol.
“I believe this internship is helping me gain knowledge related to the workplace,” she continued. “Having a schedule and working with people from different cultures has helped me be more open-minded. It has also helped me consider other areas I would like to consider for my future career.”
Students also find opportunities for professional experience a few miles from University Campus. Senior Joel Peterson is the first Saint Leo University intern at Lexus of Wesley Chapel. Peterson shared, "Career Services made taking the next step possible by providing me with the tools, support, and encouragement to put myself out there. I was able to land an internship at Lexus of Wesley Chapel through the careful guidance of Omar Cosme. He allowed me to feel confident in myself and recognize the achievements that made me excel in my role and take on any future career endeavors."
Advice for Students
Bailey said Saint Leo students should start their internship hunt early. “A lot of internships are very competitive, and if you wait until you get close to the semester in which you want to do an internship, there’s a good chance you’ll miss out on some great opportunities,” he said. “Instead, schedule an appointment with Career Services via Handshake at least a semester prior to your anticipated internship so that we can assist you with your search strategy, professional documents, interview prep, and all sorts of other needs.”
Rodriguez Villalvir said internships allow students to explore a field to see if it is a good fit. “I think it is a great experience that everyone must consider as it is an open-minded opportunity to be in the real world working and learning how to have a job and responsibilities without being an ‘official job’ as you are still in college.
“Moreover, it allows you to make connections,” she continued. If students complete an internship with an organization they admire, “that will help you realize if that organization is really what you thought they were, if their values align with yours, and if you enjoy the work environment that organization is offering you.”