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Landing that first ‘real world’ job

February  27, 2013

Worth knowing:

"How often did your advisor ask you about your career goals and aspirations?"

Augustana seniors rated their time with advisors 13 percent higher than the national average.

National Survey of Student Engagement 2009. Seniors answered this question on a 1-5 scale. Augustana averaged 3.55  while the average of all NSSE schools was 2.92.

As graduation drew closer, Alexandra Hartigan ’12 was unsure of her next step. When Network Services Company offered her a paid summer internship in marketing, she didn’t hesitate. That internship led her to a permanent position in sales and marketing.

“Network helped me start off on the right foot in the ‘real world’ by giving me the opportunity to work for a large and successful company,” Hartigan said.

Network Services Company, headquartered in Schaumburg, Ill., is becoming a hot spot of sorts for Augustana interns. CEO Robert Mitchum ’75 hired five students last summer, and will interview juniors and graduating seniors again this spring.

Organizations expect 40 percent of their new hires to come from internships in their companies, according to a 2011 survey from the National Association of Colleges and Employers. “It’s not just how the students interview, it’s how they perform when they have work objectives,” said Karen Petersen, director of business internships at Augustana.

Ninety percent of Augustana’s business majors complete internships, Petersen said, compared to 75 percent nationwide.

Network Services Company CEO Robert Mitchum '75 with Augustana recruits Daniel Hess '12, Alexandra Hartigan '12 and Genevieve Conrath '12

Genevieve Conrath ’12, a business management and psychology major, started working in Network’s human resources department the day after she graduated. She now has a permanent position and is involved in recruiting, new employee orientation, employee training and more.

“I am very lucky to have a full-time position in the field I want to be in,” Conrath said. “I was able to prove my skills as an intern, and I’m honored that they decided to keep me on.”

One of her 2012 classmates, Daniel Hess, earned his bachelor’s in business management and marketing. Hired last spring by Network, Hess works directly with factories that manufacture the company’s products, making sure the logistics side is running smoothly. He also manages global inspections to ensure high-quality products, in addition to other duties.

“There are a number of young people struggling to find jobs, and I’m extremely grateful for the opportunity Mr. Mitchum has given me,” Hess said. “It proved that my four years at Augustana truly paid off.”

Mitchum admits that hiring Augustana students is a win-win situation for everyone. “I hope students have the same kind of intern experience I had,” he said, “and I like this new pipeline for bringing in new employees. It’s difficult to recruit young people because we’re competing against brand name companies. Not many young people have heard of us.”

Even though he graduated from Augustana nearly 40 years ago, Mitchum has stayed connected to the college. As a former trustee and the father of Angie Mitchum ’08 Sharp, he’s no stranger to campus. Currently, he’s on the advisory panel for Augustana’s business administration department.

“I am grateful for what happened to me at Augie,” he said, “and if I can help out some quality students who deserve that same kind of opportunity, that’s great.”