By Rick Vacek
GCU News Bureau
The office intern: subject of jokes and funny movies, usually tasked with responsibilities that don’t go much beyond getting coffee and running errands.
The office intern from Grand Canyon University, based on feedback from numerous employers: a fast learner whose arrival is hardly a laughing matter, often trusted with important challenges and learning from them.
The evidence is in the packed job fairs (the one this spring was the biggest ever), Meet the Firms events (such as this one from last fall) and weekly Companies on Campus visits. The reputation of GCU students is a big drawing card.
But the proof is in what happens when those same students actually go on their internships and show what they can do. It’s a full-circle effect that, over time, has come to have no discernible beginning or end – it just keeps going round and round.
Such is the case with Kadin Breeze, who’s working this summer for the So. Cal. Catch, a California Collegiate League team run by the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. He writes the team’s game summaries and performs a variety of other game-day duties.
This comes after the sports management major did an internship with the Oakland Athletics during spring training. He’ll be back with them next spring as a coordinator, eager to learn even more about the inner workings of a baseball franchise.
“Having a job in a fast-paced environment was challenging at first, but I got accustomed to that,” he said. “It’s kind of like Disneyland with a different group of people coming to the ballpark each day.
“I’ve learned that every single day I have to bring my very best enthusiasm and effort. I’m also seeing how a large organization thinks and what needs to happen to make a game work. You’ve got to think creatively.”
He also has had to think fast lately. His busy schedule included his first excursion outside the United States, a mission trip to the Dominican Republic in May where he said he learned “the value of relationships. We unplugged from our technology and daily routines and just interacted. The value of that is incredible. I’m friends with every single person on that trip.”
Angela Bratt, a GCU marketing/advertising major and Honors College student who, like Breeze, is on track to graduate in three years, latched onto her internship through Meet the Firms last fall.
“I don’t know why you wouldn’t go,” she said. “You have to know how to sell yourself to these people.”
Dave Blackledge, one of her Colangelo College of Business instructors, introduced her to the people from Oxygen Hospitality, a real estate investment and management firm in Scottsdale, and she has been working there since November.
Right after she walked in the door, she said, the company president told her, “Don’t ever call yourself an intern,” and right away she was calling herself an event coordinator and personal assistant who also fulfills investor marketing and accounting duties.
Not only has the experience bolstered Bratt’s confidence; it also has done a lot for her networking skills.
“I’m a firm believer in working your network and letting your network work for you,” she said. “I’m super passionate about people and appreciate the opportunity to meet them where they’re at.”
None of this diligence is a surprise to Marquis Scott, GCU’s Director of Internships.
“Our students have a work ethic and a mindset that says, ‘I’m here to make a difference, and I need you to teach me how to make a difference.’ Employers love that. They love the fact that these young men and women want to be impactful. And it’s not a give, give, give thing – it’s like, hey, what can I do for this organization?” said Scott, who added that more than 1,200 students did internships in the 2017-2018 academic year and that more than 60 percent of those internships were paid experiences.
Scott also noted that the community outreach and entrepreneurship practiced by GCU students comes out in internships.
“When people get exposure to our students, they see the ‘it’ factor,” he said. “I don’t know that any one person could tell you what ‘it’ means, but it seems to be the care and energy and enthusiasm these young people bring for an employer.
“I think that element of change that permeates this University is something that attracts employers, too. It doesn’t look like we’re a stagnant university. We’re looking to impact this community. We’re looking to make a change in the state and the nation. We’re looking at how education can be done differently. I think that energy is contagious.
“We have the tools and the structure, but the magnetism of these young people brings employers back.”
Contact Rick Vacek at (602) 639-8203 or firstname.lastname@example.org.