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This item originally appeared in the Fall-2004 Bulldog Survival Guide issue of The Tech Talk.


Staff Writer

A summer intern's worst nightmare: accidentally blowing up his employer's computer server.

Although Andres Santacoloma exaggerated a little when he described a minor disaster he faced as an intern this summer, he said the experience was frightening nonetheless.

"I actually blew up a server if you want to believe that or not," Santacoloma said. "I went into a directory and somehow it got deleted."

Santacoloma, a senior computer information systems major, is one of many students who chose to get a taste of the business world by working as an intern.

Santacoloma worked for his second consecutive summer in the information technology department at Cleco Corporation, an energy services company, headquartered in Pineville, La.

He said he helped provide technical support, including hardware and software installation, for the company's employees.

"We give support to everybody who has desktop computers," Santacoloma said. "If they have problems they call us and we go troubleshoot them. We provide support for the whole infrastructure of the company."

Santacoloma said the most difficult part of the job was learning the specifics of the company's computer system.

"The hardest thing I've done so far is install a piece of hardware on the whole network where everybody has access to it," Santacoloma said. "We had to go through a big ordeal about that and set up an entirely separate sever."

Santacoloma said many of the permanent job opportunities he has looked at require a minimum amount of experience in the field. He said he thinks his internship with Cleco was a good opportunity to get experience and could even result in a job with the same company.

"I'm getting my foot in the door with this company so they'll know me if I put an application in later on," Santacoloma said. "If I could go there and work right after school, I'd take it in a heartbeat."

Another student said she also sees future employment benefits that could result from her internship.

LaToya Caravanas, a senior business management and entrepreneurship major, worked as an intern at Enterprise Rent-A-Car this summer in a managerial training program.

"The internship program with [Enterprise Rent-A-Car] trains you in all different aspects of management," Caravanas said. "I think that will definitely give me an advantage if I were to go to another company. If I stay with [Enterprise Rent-A-Car], I'd pretty much get promoted immediately after going through this program."

Caravanas said she dealt with many types of people during her internship and learned from the experience.

"One situation that definitely surprised me was the fact that a lot of people actually like to bargain [for a deal]," Caravanas said. "I wasn't aware of that. A lot of people like to shop around before they choose a company that they will rent [automobiles] from."

Another student who worked as an intern this summer, Zach Moss, a senior architecture major, said he discovered something he did not expect while working with Morton Verges Architects in New Orleans.

"There's a lot more paperwork involved in architecture than a student might know," Moss said. "You might think you draw a lot more and do more design work because that's what you concentrate on in school. In the office you've got a lot of other stuff to worry about, a lot more business."

Moss said he worked on a variety of tasks at the firm, including alterations to project designs.

"A project manager divvies out the projects to different architects in the firm," Moss said. "I just bounce around to the different architects and help out where I can, like making corrections to drawings."

Moss said the internship was enlightening and enjoyable.

"The experience is totally different from school," Moss said. "It's hands-on. I've enjoyed doing real projects instead of school projects. What you do actually matters."

Joe Farley, a senior kinesiology and health promotion major, also got some hands-on experience this summer. He interned for the New England Patriots for six weeks and worked at all four of the team's preseason games.

"Being in that kind of environment was a really good experience for me," Farley said. "It was a lot of work. I helped out with the rehab and got things ready for the practices and games."

Farley said he sent his resume to all of the NFL teams and the New England Patriots was the first to respond. His schedule consisted of 17-hour working days beginning at 5 a.m. Farley said the schedule was a challenge but the knowledge he gained working with the team was worth it.

Cheryl Myers, director of the Career Center, said any student stands to benefit from an internship.

"Internships and other career-related work experiences will provide new college graduates with competitive advantages over candidates who have not had these experiences," Myers said.

"Many times a job offer for full-time employment will result from an internship or summer employment."

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