Q & A with April Merenda
Assistant to the Dean/External Affairs & Academic Internships
Explain the relationship between the employers/companies looking for interns and St. John’s. Who looks for whom or is it mutual?
As it relates to the Academic Internship Fair, we organize it annually in the fall to secure students internships in the spring, CPS invites all of the companies attending on behalf of STJ and we solicit feedback from our neighboring schools such as Tobin and SJC to ensure companies are representative to their internship needs. We vet the sites to make certain they offer a productive experience for our students and also visit the sites once a student has been accepted to ensure that the student is being assigned meaningful task and acquiring hands on experience in their field. The fair is complimentary to companies to entice and continue to reach great brands to mentor our students into once in a lifetime academic internships. The internship has to be approved by the academic director of the students major and a grade, just like the rest of their course code, is added to their transcript.
About how many students have obtained internships or jobs through Career Week?
As it relates to Academic Internships, 75% of the companies present at the fair have accepted interns for STJ University credit. Of those companies, 65% have hired our interns or have assisted our student to find a meaningful position upon graduation within their network. Of the new sites we invited to this year’s fair which equates to 25 companies, 50% have hired STJ graduates and most if not all of these companies present at this year’s fair noted they will be able to fulfill their intern needs from STJ due to the high caliber and prepared students they met at the fair. We have found a powerful combination of tapping into our STJ Alumni to embellish our academic internship program and believe concentrating on that combination is key to the growth in rewarding academic internship opportunities. We also found our Career Center has done a superb job in preparing our students for the Academic Internship Fair and in the general organization our students need for their career path. Coupled with the mentoring Academic arm of the University through faculty and advising deans, this foundation is a win-win success formula. The WSJ recently noted that 65% of all internships lead to employment so we are on track with nationwide statistics and may possibly surpass that expectation with our concerted efforts.
What are your expectations for students that attend career week?
As it relates to Academic Internship Fair, students need to register for their spring classes through advisement by the end of October so the fair is timely and necessary especially for those students whose major mandates they have an academic internship component IE Sports Management and Health Service Administration. As it relates to CPS, our expectation from the fair is to place 350 students into 3 credit internships for Spring 2013. Other schools such as Tobin School of Business and St. John’s College also place students into academic internships and Denise Hopkins can supply that info based on last year’s data if you need that for your article.
What can you take away from this year’s events so far?
As it related to the Academic Internship Fair, we saw a 22% increase in student participation over last year’s event mainly because we opened the event up to all students within the University inclusive of our Staten Island campus and we developed an Academic Internship App to secure information which the students embraced. All of this information was made available online at www.stjohns.edu/academicinternshipfair for 24/7 access.
Are you satisfied?
It was a lot of work with many moving parts to organize the layout of the academic fair into Career Clusters and ensure we had viable companies in each exhibit area but we pulled it off! We are thankful our office of Conference Services that opened up Taffner Field House for our use to accommodate such an exhibit area. To think this is a basketball court by day and night and turned into a student exhibition hall was gratifying. We also established an Academic Internship Committee made up of staff members, deans from various schools and the Career Center and demonstrated great accomplishments thrive with team building from various outlets in the university in order to come together as one and meet the challenge at hand.