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Ohio universities unite to expand Ohio exporting through internship program

Youngstown State University President Jim Tressel (left) and University President Michael Drake (right) pose with Ohio university students Aug. 6 at the 2015 Ohio Export Internship Program Showcase. Credit: Michael Huson / Campus Editor

Youngstown State University President Jim Tressel (left) and University President Michael Drake (right) pose with Ohio university students Aug. 6 at the 2015 Ohio Export Internship Program Showcase. Credit: Michael Huson / Campus Editor

Lynn Lun-Rich, a 2013 Ohio State graduate in marketing and Spanish, knew from the first time she was lifted 100 feet in the air on one of Sutphen Corporation’s aerial platform fire trucks during her internship that she had found her first job after college.

She was tasked with helping the Dublin fire truck manufacturing company expand its international business effort. She succeeded and is now the company’s international marketing specialist.

Lun-Rich shared her success story and internship experience with this year’s graduating class of the Ohio Export Internship Program during an Aug. 6 event at the Ohio Statehouse.

The internship program couples a spring semester export-oriented business course with a summer internship at an Ohio-based company interested in expanding its business to a global scale.

The event highlighted and awarded the completion of 42 Ohio students’ internships with the program, and featured speakers included Rep. Steve Stivers, University President Michael Drake and former OSU football coach Jim Tressel, who currently serves as president of Youngstown State University.

“It’s such an important thing for our state, and for really our national economy. And to think that my two schools, if you will, are leading the charge, I felt like a proud papa,” Tressel told The Lantern. “We had a chance to see what these students are doing, and they’re so talented and they’re getting such great experiences. It’s one of those great days.”

Ohio students from universities including Bowling Green State University, Wright State University and the University of Dayton commute to OSU to take the 3-credit hour course. YSU offers a similar regional course and grades are transferred to OSU.

Students who do well in the course are then assigned internships, based on the student’s’ skills and the companies’ needs.

Joyce Steffan, director of undergraduate global business initiatives at the Fisher College of Business, said the overall mission is to help close the “skills gap” between Ohio companies that need employees who know how to export and students with international business development skills.

“Our goal, here, is to develop those competencies that are most needed in the workforce, at all levels,” she said.

Ohio companies exported $52.1 billion in commodities in 2014, a 2.6 percent rise compared to the previous year, according to a 2014 Ohio export report by the Ohio Development Services Agency. The state ranked ninth in exports for the U.S., with 216 countries and territories importing goods from Ohio.

The course and internship program partners Ohio universities, including YSU, with the Ohio Development Services Agency.

David Goodman, director of the agency, stressed during his speech the impact exporting can have on students and the Ohio economy, saying 70 percent of global buying power exists outside the U.S.

“If you can’t cross those borders to be able to reach them, you’re losing a lot of opportunities. And if you’re losing those opportunities, you’re not growing your business the way you can. And if you’re not growing your business the way you can, you’re not helping to create jobs,” he said.

The export internship program has generated $13 million in expected global sales since its inception in 2012, Steffan said, citing company surveys.

Goodman added that the partnership allows an opportunity for students to interact with businesses that can actually use their help.

“It’s an amazing thing when a college student goes and actually has something to offer and benefits that company,” he said. “It gives them a sense of confidence that they can make a difference at such an early part of their professional life.”

Youngstown State University President Jim Tressel (right) and University President Michael Drake (left) award Dorianeh Stanford with a certificate of completion Aug. 6 at the 2015 Ohio Export Internship Program Showcase. Credit: Michael Huson / Campus Editor

University President Michael Drake (left) and Youngstown State University President Jim Tressel (right) award Dorianeh Stanford with a certificate of completion Aug. 6 at the 2015 Ohio Export Internship Program Showcase. Credit: Michael Huson / Campus Editor

In its four years, the program has yielded 13 full-time job offers and 29 extended internship offers.

Steffan said the program is growing in popularity, with about 130 students applying for the program last year, adding that it is also highly competitive, with only 34 students admitted.

The program hopes to accept 60 students in the upcoming year, she said, adding the possibility of including students from Columbus State Community College.

Nikhil Aggarwal, a fourth-year in logistics management and operations management, spent his summer interning with Clippard Instrument Laboratory, a manufacturing company based in Cincinnati.

His main goal and achievement of the summer was to interview and appoint distributors in India. He said that although visiting India wasn’t much of a culture shock, given he is a native, his internship did provide a unique learning opportunity.

Aggarwal said he hopes to continue working with Clippard after graduation.

“It has been a brilliant experience. It has, for sure, given me a good story to start off my professional life because I have achieved something in my internship,” he said. “It has equipped me very well with confidence and knowledge in professional life, business life, basically.”

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