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Professor honored for student internship advice for companies

June 18, 2014 3:30PM

In his 10 years as internship director for the Pittsburg State Department of Accounting, Professor David O’Bryan has witnessed a little bit of everything.

He’s seen students take part in excellent internships, and he’s seen students accept internships that ended up being less than ideal. His takeaway from this experience?

David O'Bryan mug shot“A company is better not to start an internship program than to have a poor one,” he said. “A poor one serves few purposes. It does not give the students good experiences, and the students in turn do not leave with a positive image of the organization. The company does not get nearly as much value from the employee either.”

To help companies create internships that will best serve them and the students, O’Bryan led the development of a manuscript titled “10 Best Practices for Business Student Internships.” Much of the article’s advice to companies was based on real-life experiences.

Pittsburg State alums Jennifer Shewmake, Sarah Sisseck and Jonathan Wiltse provided quotes for the article based on their own internship experiences.

“We brought together several students, and they put together a presentation of internship best practices they had observed from their experiences with several other organizations,” O’Bryan said. “This presentation sort of became the starting point for our article.”

That article, published last year in Strategic Finance Magazine, a prestigious publication of the Association of Accountants and Financial Professionals in Business (IMA), was recently chosen by the IMA as one of the top manuscripts nationwide in 2013.

With that honor comes a Lybrand Certificate of Merit, which is presented to IMA member authors for their “outstanding contributions to accounting and finance literature.” The Lybrand Awards will be presented June 24 at the IMA’s national conference in Minneapolis, Minn.

“I am pleased that practitioners found this article useful,” O’Bryan said. “This was the whole reason we wrote it. We wanted to share our experiences with others in the hopes that they could learn from them. If more organizations decide to offer internships then I think everyone wins.

“The organizations win,” he said, “by attracting talented young people, the students win by gaining access to practical experiences and the university community wins by developing partnerships with employers to complement our academic programs.”

O’Bryan said the project served as an example of “integrating our teaching and research missions.”

“The word ‘research’ sounds a bit mysterious to some,” he said. “But if you instead think about simply doing unique and innovative things as part of your teaching mission and then sharing those results with others via presentations and peer-reviewed publications, then it is a lot easier to understand. If you are really doing innovative things in teaching and curriculum, chances are there are publication outlets that will be interested in your ideas.”

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