Some West Virginia University graduate students don’t need to cross the seas or even the state line to land a high-quality internship.

For those in the Master of Science in Human Resources and Industrial Relations program in the College of Business and Economics, real world experience can be found a half-mile down the road.

The College and the Division of Human Resources have partnered up to place MSIR students into the world of HR at WVU. It’s symbolic of cross-department cooperation that also helps fulfill the University’s 2020 Strategic Plan for the Future.

Each summer, HR will take two summer interns from the program. This year’s interns are Julie Sankbeil and Jonathan Kimble, the Mountaineer mascot. Both are pursuing their two-year industrial relations master’s degrees.

“One of the goals of HR has been to develop an ongoing relationship with the College of Business and Economics,” said Jim Morris, director of employee relations.

Because the MSIR program calls for students to complete an internship, HR decided to provide an option for them – a paid internship that also counts as three hours credit.

“We’re right here, a half-mile from the College where we can provide the students with a professional HR work experience,” Morris said. “Some of these students get internships with GE or Pepsi, but they have to travel out of the area for those. We’re conveniently located.”

Each summer intern is given two assignments by HR. One will analyze exit interview data, said Morris, who’s a graduate of the program.

Neil Bucklew, professor of management and industrial relations, said HR approached the College with these initiatives.

“The WVU HR office is a very professional, well-organized department,” Bucklew said. “They oversee employment at WVU, which is one of the largest employers in the state. The exposure will be enlightening for students. This is a step forward for everyone involved.”

That partnership doesn’t end with the internships. Starting in spring 2014, WVU HR will accept five students per semester into its Experiential Learning Program. Each student will spend two-week rotations in a unit of HR: employee relations, classification, compensation, benefits, training, and employment. On top of that, students can spend part of the time working with the Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, which is also a partner in the program.

“HR has created a nice model that other WVU administrative units could follow in reaching out to the academic part of the University,” Bucklew said. “The hospital already provides opportunities for medical school students. It’s good to see it happening for business students.”

“These initiatives meet the overall goals of the University,” Morris said. “In particular, this forges relationships between academic units and administrative units. It’s a win-win for us, the students and the B&E program.”



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