FORT WAYNE – Laura Buuck just completed her freshman year in college but is spending the summer as an intern, a job title often snagged by upperclassmen.
I was actually just looking for some hands-on experience, said Buuck, who is working in the development office at Lutheran Life Villages, a non-profit that provides assisted living and other residential options.
Buuck, 19, graduated last year from Concordia High School in Fort Wayne. She is studying business management and finance at Indiana University.
The internship at Lutheran Life gives Buuck the opportunity to work with fundraising, grant writing and charitable giving, special events and volunteers.
I think it provides educational opportunities and mentoring for the student, said Julie Applegate, Lutheran Lifes vice president of human resources. And I think they have a better feel for the real world, kind of the challenges and opportunities that are out there.
Lutheran Life and accounting firm BKD LLP are just two local employers that see the value of helping to train the next generation. They also know interns can add value to the workplace.
Tom Cottrell, managing partner at the Fort Wayne BKD office, said he recently read an article about accounting firms being a top industry for hiring interns.
Its tremendous experience for the student because theyre going to have an experience thats similar to their first year on the job, Cottrell said.
The local BKD recently announced its four summer interns. They are working as accountants on audits for clients, which requires spending most of their time outside the BKD office. Interns can help make the workload more manageable.
Weve had situations where most of the interns are done, but we need somebody to stay around for an extra two weeks, Cottrell said.
Its not unusual, he said, for the local office to have interns most months of the year.
At Lutheran Life, Buuck said shes involved in projects, including a September neighborhood golf fundraiser and plans for a Wii golf tournament in February. Shes attended donor lunches, marketing and event planning meetings. Shes spent hours scouting potential funding sources, using the library and Internet searches.
Believe me, Buuck said, Google is my best friend.
And Buuck, who previously volunteered at Lutheran Life, is impressing her summer employer.
She has great ideas that we didnt have, said Jon Dize, vice president of development. When Buuck finishes one task, he said, she always asks What else can I do?
Shes proficient with Word, Excel (and) the Adobe design product, Dize said. She picked up the e-mail system within an afternoon.
Perhaps the best scenario occurs when an internship helps a student prove she would be a good hire.
Thats what happened for Alexa Markley, Lutheran Lifes new wellness coordinator. She started the job in May, a week after graduating from Ball State University.
A 540-hour internship was required for her degree, so Markley interned at Lutheran Life from January to late April.
Sure, she thought: It would be nice if the internship led to something permanent, but there were no guarantees.
You always have that hope I think, but I wasnt getting my hopes up too high, said Markley, 22, of Decatur.
It helps, though, to show initiative when opportunities – or job postings – present themselves.
I really enjoyed working at this facility as an intern, Markley said, and so I decided to go for it.
The last week of her internship, Markley learned she landed the full-time job.