“I think anyone who is a sophomore or junior looking for an internship opportunity should apply to this program,” said Evan Brunot, a senior majoring in marketing, reflecting on his gratifying paid internship with the Ohio manufacturing company Quickloadz Intermodal Robotics.

Brunot obtained the internship through the statewide Ohio Export Internship Program (OEIP). OHIO students from all majors are eligible for the program, which is administered in the College of Business.

Brunot and junior international business major Kristen Bowman were among the 2023 summer interns from OHIO who participated in the program. Both said the program helped them develop skills with time management, problem solving, creativity and communication, and helped them learn how to work in groups and have better efficiency in leadership roles.

The OEIP prepares students for a career in global trade and commerce, partnering with universities across Ohio to find student interns. The OEIP’s mission is to close the gap between companies that need employees with export business skills and the students who have these skills. The OEIP focuses on small companies with 500 employees or fewer and requires these companies to go through an application process to maintain their mission and goal.

The program is a collaboration between the Ohio Department of Development, the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) in the Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Service, the College of Business, and Ohio’s small companies. Don Hackney, the export assistance advisor at the SBDC, is the instructor for the required spring semester class which covers topics like international marketing, trade finance, export compliance and market entry methods, and provides unique hands-on experiences, guest speakers and a project with an Ohio company.

During this course, students are evaluated on their strengths and interests, and are then matched with a company for the 12-week summer internship.

“The process was very straightforward,” said Bowman, who interned with the Ohio company Bertec. “I was given a survey I had to fill out about my interests to focus on during the internship, location preference, and industry preference, where I would rank what I deemed the most important.”

She then met with Wendi Howell, an OEIP manager, to discuss the survey results and to see what company best aligned with Bowman’s preferences.

“The company I interned for was exactly what I wanted based on the survey, and it was a smooth transition once I got there,” said Brunot.

Bowman and Brunot both recalled the positive collaboration process from their partnered companies and how comfortable they felt while working with them.

“The company encouraged collaboration on projects since everyone was working together on one project or another,” Bowman said. “I had the opportunity to collaborate with the engineering, marketing and sales teams to discover the best option when shipping products for trade shows and to various customers around the world.”

“The collaborative process was significant,” Brunot said. “I would work with almost everyone in the office and get feedback on most projects. It was a great environment where I felt like the work I was doing was substantial.

Brunot and Bowman also said they felt supported by University staff during their internships.

“I felt comfortable with maintaining communication with everyone from the office,” Brunot said. “It was a healthy environment where everyone was supportive and wanted you to succeed.”

The internship holds mutual benefits for both the interns and the Ohio companies. Students are employed full time, and employers receive up to a 50% reimbursement of intern wages at the end of the program. The companies gain further development in new markets and improvement on current export initiatives.

This internship is open to all OHIO students who rank as sophomores or higher and is especially good for those who are interested in international business. Many participants in the program also continue their relationships with the companies where they intern, demonstrating the positive impact and relationships developed during the program.

“The OEIP is a prestigious program and I hope it continues to grow,” Brunot said.

Author – Ilajah Thomas, ’24

Published – March 24, 2024