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Internships making the grade for Morrisville State College grads

MSC ranked in top 10, by U.S. News and World Report, with highest internship rates
MORRISVILLE, NY—Steven Sgarlata didn’t have some of the usual worries college grads face when they complete their degrees.

He didn’t have to spend months poring over online job posts, writing cover letters and cranking out resumes. The Morrisville State College graduate honed his skills through a college internship that landed him a job right out of school.

And he’s not alone.

Internships are providing a gateway to a wave of jobs in industries craving seasoned and highly skilled graduates. And it’s an area where Morrisville State College is making the grade.

MSC was recently named, by U.S News and World Report, as one of the top 10 colleges in the nation with the highest internship rates. According to the report, it is among schools that produced the highest percentage of interns among the Class of 2013.

On average, 38 percent of the Class of 2013 participated in an internship during their undergraduate careers, according to data reported by 314 ranked colleges and universities in a U.S. News survey. At the 10 schools with the highest rates of participation, at least 88 percent of undergraduates completed an internship.
The report gives MSC seventh place distinction with 95 percent of baccalaureate students graduating with internships.

The thumbs up is favorable news to students completing successful internships and a sign that stellar grades and glowing recommendations aren’t always enough to score a job after college graduation.

According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, employers are looking for students who demonstrate leadership experience and teamwork, the report states. Enter internships. Many of those important skills are developed through college internships. And it’s what’s making MSC grads more attractive candidates in an increasingly competitive market.

That job readiness is a draw for employers and is what gave Sgarlata an edge.

Through his internship at MSC, Sgarlata, a 2013 renewable energy bachelor degree grad, was involved with biodiesel production, gasification and anaerobic digestion, wind power generation and solar power generation. That arsenal of skills opened many doors for the Oneida resident and continues to do so today.

“Everything I do has been directly or indirectly related to my internship,” Sgarlata said. “The real-world experience through an internship really speaks to employers. They see that we have great skills.”

It’s what stood out when Ryan Storke, division manager at CEC Energy, hired Sgarlata as a solar project developer. “The level of competency students from the renewable program have is unmatched,” Storke said.

He can attest to that first-hand. Storke, a 2012 renewable energy bachelor degree graduate, credits his internship at MSC with opening a number of doors. “Everything I learned from MSC directly affects where I am today.”

Like Storke, many graduates boast their internship as the key that launched their career.

“Morrisville provided me with excellent hands-on learning that helped provide me with a base of knowledge that I could easily transfer into the field of cyber security,” said David Kreuzburg, a 2013 information technology: network administration graduate, now a Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) Analyst at the Center for Internet Security (CIS).

Kreuzburg, who performed his internship at CIS, was offered a position there before his internship concluded. “Thanks to my internship, I was working at CIS only a week after my graduation,” he said.

Selasie Tetevia, a criminal justice bachelor degree graduate, shares a similar success through his internship with the City of Syracuse Police Department.

“Through this experience, I learned a lot about law enforcement and what the department had to offer. I was hired by the Syracuse Police Department in August of 2014 and joined the academy. I credit the education and the discipline I got from Morrisville State College to my successful completion of the training,” he said.

Accommodating internships as part of students’ course curriculum is an important focus at MSC.

“Morrisville has a proud history of combining classroom instruction with hands-on experiential learning,” said Morrisville State College President David Rogers. “Our academic program requirements, which involve full-semester internships, represent an extension of that history of applied learning.”

Kimani Smith’s internship at Pyramid Brokerage Co., a commercial brokerage real estate firm, piloted him to his current position as a sales agent with the company.

“Internships are a very beneficial part of your education and a stepping stone for anything you want to do,” said Smith, a 2010 graduate of the college’s business administration bachelor degree program.

“My internship entailed learning the commercial real estate field and helping the brokers in the office with various projects ranging from research to property locating. Today I use the same methods in my day-to-day activities,” he added.

Graduates say there is more to the equation. They give faculty members the nod for providing the internship connections that are taking them from classroom to career.

“The professors at Morrisville are experts in the industry,” said Denae Rinaldo, of Canastota, a graduate of the college’s resort and recreation management bachelor degree program. “Each of them has such diverse backgrounds that bring a unique culture to the hospitality program. Because of their rich backgrounds, they have ties that provide us with many opportunities to succeed.”

“They have a wealth of industry experience and ties that are exposing us to so many opportunities,” Sgarlata said. “Professor Ben Ballard and his industry connections have no doubt helped with internship and countless opportunities for me.”

“The relationships that faculty members have cultivated with industry throughout the years have paid great dividends,” said Joan Johnson, professor in the college’s hospitality department. “When a hotel, or resort has a position they need to fill with talent, they call us and we do our best to match their needs with the goals and abilities of our (hospitality) students.”

Those relationships with professors have been instrumental in guiding Rinaldo’s career.“I was hired based on my knowledge and exposure to the industry,” said the 2015 grad who performed an internship at the Residence Inn Carrier Circle by Marriott and was later hired as assistant general manager at Marriott International.

“Our faculty has a wealth of industry experience and our reality-based applied and hands-on learning approach exposes our students to the realities of business throughout their studies, with experiences working at Morrisville State Travel, The Copper Turret, and Madison County Tourism,” Johnson said of hospitality program students.

Rinaldo took advantage of everything she could through MSC’s hospitality program, participating in college activities, IFSEA events, career fairs, volunteer work, and certifications and trainings, experiences which enabled her to explore different facets of the industry and gain a wealth of skills.

“My experiences at school only helped me excel at work,” Rinaldo said. “For example, internship projects allowed me to voice my ideas on areas of improvement throughout the hotel and my managers always took note of my thoughts. This helped me to think outside of the box and suggest ideas for improvement.”

Grads aren’t the only ones reaping rewards. Internships are a winning situation for employers too. The experience and skills MSC students gain through applied learning in the classroom are making them desirable interns and providing employers with talent that will help to grow their business.

Brandon Fragale, of Syracuse, a 2013 automotive technology bachelor degree grad, praises his skills honed at MSC and his internship at Ryder Truck in Syracuse with leading the company to hire him in operations management. “You have to learn the ways of the company in any new job, but we already have the core of what we need in terms of skills—mechanical knowledge and computer applications, from Morrisville,” he said.

Besides getting a foot in the door with a potential employer and enhancing a resume, internships allow students to test out a career, provide countless networking opportunities, and give them the chance to accumulate new skills.

“Internships provide students with a chance to build relationships outside of academics, and offer an amazing opportunity to both utilize the skills they’ve learned in real-world scenarios, as well as continue to develop their abilities in ways that are only possible with true work experience,” Kreuzburg said.

What echoes loudly for MSC is that internships are investments in the future, improving students’ chances as job applicants and helping to make them better potential employees.

Whatever skills they learn in the classroom, students put to use in real-world situations through internships and, in turn, are able to show those in the industry what they’re learning in the classroom.

“My suggestion to anyone is to work part-time in your field or do an internship,” Fragale said. “You can learn something on Monday in class, then apply it on Tuesday.”

“Employers look to hire our students for internships, co-ops and full-time jobs because they know our graduates have the knowledge and skillsets that will add value to their operations,” Johnson said.

Those relationships have been beneficial in other ways too, reaping scholarship support from industry, another important element in Morrisville State College students’ pockets, Johnson noted.

Morrisville State’s curricula are enriched with applied learning and pave the way for opportunity at both the Morrisville and Norwich campuses. An action-oriented, interactive learning lab, the college is a national leader in technology and has been lauded for its exemplary, innovative and effective community service programs.

In addition to being named to the 2014 President’s Higher Community Education Service Honor Roll, the college was recognized by U.S. News and World Report as an institution in the top tier of the Best Regional Colleges list and ranked second among regional colleges nationwide for outperforming its anticipated graduation rate. For more information visit