Faculty help students gain real-world job experience

Shahriyar Emami, Staff Reporter

Internships and co-ops allow students to gain experience in the fields they’re interested in, and some University departments such as the journalism, accounting and engineering departments are especially helpful in assisting students in landing those internships and co-ops.


Rich Houston, director of the Culverhouse School of Accountancy, said having an internship in accounting is important because students can gain valuable work experience and workplace exposure. Houston said students get more job offers after having done an accounting internship.

The Big Four accounting firms, Deloitte, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Ernst & Young and KPMG, are among the top employers recruiting at the University.

“For the most part, students get offers after their internship and they do go back to the company with which they have their internship,” Houston said. “It’s also important as far as the overall job search.”

Houston said internships begin during the spring semester in January and last until spring break, and accounting internships usually have students go out of town.

“Regardless of where they’re from, when students leave here and go to New York, Chicago, Nashville, Los Angeles, Dallas, we have students going all over the country,” Houston said. “It really helps the reputation of the school when they see the kinds of accounting students that graduate from Alabama.”

News Media

Daniel Meissner, the News Media internship coordinator for the College of Communication & Information Sciences, said the Department of Journalism and Creative Media assists with placement in internships at some local media outlets such as The Tuscaloosa News and WVUA 23.  

Meissner said journalism internships are important because students can develop a work portfolio and a network of contacts in their field.

“Many students find their own internships and then contact the department,” Meissner said. “This is especially true for students wanting to do internships near their home in the summer or in other locations.”


For students who do not know what kind of engineering they want to study, co-ops and internships can help students discover their preferences and strongsuits.

“Generally in engineering, if you want to get a job when you graduate, the single most important thing that companies look at is relevant work experience,” said Beth Todd, the mechanical engineering departmental undergraduate program director.

Todd said the last group of students that employers look at are the students with no co-op or internship experience.

“I would say that typically, the students that get the first job offers are going to be the students that have co-op experience,” Todd said. “After all the co-op students are hired, the next employers are going to turn to students who have internship experience.”