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The Impact of an Internship

Most people are familiar with internships. They’re what college students usually do during their junior or senior years to get real-world work experience. But what if you could test out the internship waters in high school? What if, by the time you applied to colleges and registered for classes, you already had an idea of what you wanted to do for your career?

Claire Sharpe

At USM, this dream is a reality. And for alumni like Claire Sharpe ’15, it’s made all the difference in their careers. Sharpe came to USM her junior year when her family relocated to Milwaukee from Columbus, Ohio. During her junior year, she applied for an internship through USM’s Internship and Shadowing Program. That summer, she joined Johnson Controls in Glendale, Wisconsin for an internship in their IT department for mergers and acquisitions.

The stint turned into a three-year internship at Johnson Controls. Sharpe stayed on for the rest of that summer, worked after school during her senior year at USM, and then again the summer after her freshman year of college at Colgate University, where she studied mathematical economics.

What started as a way to fill up time during the summer turned into so much more. “When I got to college, I had a leg up on my peers,” she said. “Although I wasn’t thinking about that at the time, now when I look back, I’m so glad I did it. I was able to go into college with a professional internship on my resume, which made applying for more internships so much easier.”

"I was able to go into college with a professional internship on my resume."
Claire Sharpe '15

Although Sharpe didn’t take business classes at USM, she did take AP Computer Science, which helped prepare her for work in IT. “I always knew I wanted to do something in business, and through my internship, I ended up liking it a lot more than I ever thought I would. At Johnson Controls, we worked with a lot of consultants from the “Big Four” professional services firms. I loved that projects were constantly changing, and you weren’t stuck in one role. It was very dynamic,” Sharpe said.

One of those firms, Ernst & Young, ended up being her first employer out of college, where she worked as a financial services consultant—a departure from IT. Currently, she works in global markets business management at UBS in Manhattan. “A lot of the day-to-day project management that I learned in my internship I’m still doing every day. It’s a lot more interconnected than I first thought,” she said.

Her advice for USM students considering the internship program? “It’s definitely valuable whatever you do. Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone.”

Visit www.usm.org/internship to learn more about our Internship and Shadowing program.

  • Alumni