(OSU-Cascades student Brendan Lewis is majoring in outdoor products. He was hired as a summer intern by Hydro Flask and is gaining hands-on experience as a member of the sales team, working with buyers, enhancing in-store merchandising and editing the brand’s e-commerce sites | Photo courtesy of Oregon State University – Cascades)
OSU-Cascades Mentorship-Host Programs Offer Invaluable Real-World Experience
Oregon State University – Cascades is helping students sow the seeds of success through promoting internships as a potential springboard to catapult undergraduates into viable careers through real-world experience.
OSU-Cascades Director of Communications Christine Coffin said, “Our philosophy is to encourage students to explore the benefits of experiential learning opportunities like internships, in terms of the positive impact they can have as a student makes decisions about the best path forward and how they prepare them for future careers.
“OSU-Cascades students in a variety of majors are interning with organizations and businesses throughout Central Oregon, working with supervisors who guide and mentor them and providing invaluable experience.
“We very much appreciate these internship hosts and their willingness to get involved with students and potentially invest in their own business or organization’s future success and perhaps discover new talent and future leaders.”
OSU-Cascades has responded to feedback from local employers as to skill sets in demand in various target industries and has tailored curriculum accordingly in areas such as the outdoor products industry, computer science, engineering and education.
An intern is basically a trainee who has signed on with an organization for a brief period where the goal is to gain paid work experience, potentially some academic credit, and an overall feel for the industry they are contemplating becoming involved with.
Bend-based OSU-Cascades is a leading proponent of internships as a valuable way for students to gain real-world experience outside of the classroom and have material to add to their resume. Interests can be explored to help guide personal career goals and learn about the expectations of employment in a chosen field to ascertain whether pursuing such a career is a good fit.
Companies of all sizes and industries hire interns and for their part can gain valuable support for the business and its existing employees.
To create an ideal internship experience for employers and students alike, OSU-Cascades suggest criteria for best practices, including: Having learning objectives that are documented in an internship learning agreement and agreed upon by the employer; giving students ample opportunities to work toward attaining their agreed-upon learning objectives; including a performance evaluation at the end of the internship.
In one example of a local fruitful employer partnership with academia, “People Advocate” Dani Edgel of leading Central Oregon digital marketing software and services company G5 said, “The partnership G5 has with OSU-Cascades is essential for recruiting measures. G5 regularly takes part in the campus’s Career Fairs, posts job openings to Beaver Careers and hires interns.
“Last summer G5 brought on 13 interns, almost all of which were OSU-Cascades or OSUCorvallis students. The conversion ratio of interns to full-time employees is about 75 percent.
“As a tech company, we are specifically interested in OSU alumni and students because of their great computer science program. Additionally, we know more than likely, an OSU-Cascades student will be a good ‘culture fit’ being a Bendite (regards work/life balance). We pride ourselves on hiring as much talent as possible within our local community.”
To help with the search for an internship site, OSU-Cascades’ Career Development Center offers a wealth of information, including the “Handshake” online tool for off-campus jobs, which accesses excellent resources and details on employers and industries from the mobile-first platform that is networked with thousands of employers across the country.
Once a student has submitted an experience request and confirmed an internship placement with both a Faculty Internship Supervisor and Internship Site Supervisor — whether an academic requirement or co-curricular for professional development — they will be able to register for the internship course.
One such intern is Trey Bracelin who is set to graduate from OSU-Cascades this fall in the relatively new undergraduate degree in art, media and technology, launched in 2019, that prepares students to become creative professionals in the visual arts and design fields.
“Our goal is to respond to the ever-increasing need for creative designers who can solve visual communication problems,” said art instructor Kiel Fletcher, who led the creation of the degree. “We want our graduates to deliver critical thinking and excellent studio technique as they contribute to the professional world and produce work ranging from digital imagery to film and 3D designs.
“The degree curriculum emphasizes practical learning through local internships and arts entrepreneurship courses that allow students to understand how creative design is managed and produced in professional settings.”
Bracelin is interning through the summer with innovative Central Oregon digital marketing agency Algofy, which also has remote capability as well as offices in Bend and Barcelona, Spain and an extensive global client base.
Bracelin said, “I have always wanted be an artist and have been studying graphic design, art and technology and wanted to keep going through the summer and pursue an internship.
“I specifically approached Algofy as a great local company that is a leader in their field, and it has been an amazing experience all round.
“As a Bend native, this degree program just kind of sprung up around me and proved a great fit — it is awesome that I am able to do it right here with OSU-Cascades.
“It has been a great experience with Algofy, and I have been given flexibility and the chance to work on different creative tasks such as a company art project, designing a logo and contributing ideas for photographs and video shoots. I wanted real-world experience, and this has been a win-win.
“Algofy is a very cool modern company with clients worldwide, particularly in the outdoor industries, and it has been fun exploring the scope of business. This would be a great company to potentially work for in the future after graduation.
“OSU-Cascades has also been very encouraging through the process and helpful in preparing steps for my future career.”
Trey’s company host, Algofy Founder/CEO Bret Thompson said, “Simply put, we use digital tools and ad platforms like Google, Meta, TikTok and Amazon to drive sales more profitably for the partner brands we work with including Bend brands that we’ve helped such as Blackstrap, CVT and EarthCruiser.
“We opened up an office in Bend a little over a year ago to set up a base for our outdoor industry-focused brand: algofyoutdoors.com. We’re focused on being the number one ecommerce solution for the outdoor industry.
“We are definitely tech-focused and everything we do is digital/tech. We also have our own proprietary tools, like our analytics platform Algofy Insight and performance management platform Algofy AI to manage advertising.
“We actually started in Barcelona before opening an office in Bend. We plan to keep offices in both locations. Our clients are from 18 countries across the U.S., Latin America, Europe and Asia, and in our team, we speak 12 different languages, with 14 different nationalities.
“For Algofy, the internship program is a great opportunity to work with talented students that have the potential to eventually work full-time with us. Trey is our third intern from OSU-Cascades in the last year and the first two are now full-time team members.
“For students, they get to be a part of a fast-growing startup and work with a diverse and talented international team. We expose them to various parts of an ever-changing digital industry while giving them tangible skills that they can either apply with us or would certainly be interesting to any other employer in the future — every business needs digital help.
“Skills an intern gain from us include everything from analytics to data analysis, graphic design, web development, branding, SEO, paid media, Conversion Rate Optimization and email marketing.
“Trey’s been great. He’s very talented, with a diverse background in art and technology. He’s hardworking and I have no doubt that he will be successful in whatever he chooses to do after his internship with Algofy.
“I think OSU-Cascades is a great resource for the community in general and businesses in the area as well. They are doing a great job of designing programs that fit the community. With our focus on tech and the outdoor industry, the business, outdoor products, economics and computer science programs are a great fit for us.
“Further development of data science programs would be great, and we see OSU-Cascades as being one of, if not the strongest pipeline for future Algofy talent in the area.”
Coffin added, “At OSU-Cascades, we guarantee students opportunities for experiential learning. These experiences deepen students’ understanding of what they have learned in the classroom and let them apply their learning in a business, nonprofit or agency setting. They develop skills that make them even more attractive to a future employer.
“The opportunities include internships, volunteering with a nonprofit; capstone projects where teams of engineering, outdoor product and computer science majors help companies solve real-world problems; research projects; student leadership activities and opportunities to study overseas.”
Nearly 80 percent of OSU-Cascades 2021 graduates engaged in one or more internships, practicums, capstone projects, service learning, leadership or study abroad experiences.
Research shows the experiences do help students secure jobs. Surveys of graduates found that an average of 81 percent of graduates from 2019, 2020 and 2021 are employed in a field related to their major.
On the benefits of having a career plan, some 85 percent of students indicate that they pursue college in order to achieve a better career. Meanwhile, 60 percent of incoming first-year students enter college without established major/career goals or a career plan.
Career planning has been linked to increased student motivation, improved academic performance, higher likelihood of persisting through graduation and a higher likelihood of graduating on time.
Careers development leaders advocate students taking a career assessment, connecting with people doing the work by networking with employers and performing informational interviews to gather more information about what the particular job or work environment is actually like, and if you can see yourself there, and gaining experience by getting involved in campus clubs and organizations and taking advantage of leadership opportunities if possible.
Oregon State University’s campus in Bend brings higher education to Central Oregon, the fastest-growing region in the state. Surrounded by 2.5 million acres of mountains and high desert, OSU-Cascades offers small classes that accelerate faculty-student mentoring and engages in top tier research as part of Oregon State University. Degree programs meet industry and economic needs in areas such as innovation and entrepreneurship, natural ecosystems, health and wellness, and arts and sciences, and prepare students for tomorrow’s challenges.