MU students encouraged to apply for Kohl’s internships

College students have one weight on their minds when first stepping onto campus — applying and obtaining an internship or job. No matter what field they are searching in, students need to find a way to make money and gain experience … and they need to find it fast.

Established in 1962 with a corporate headquarters in Menomonee Falls, Wis., Kohl’s Department Stores Inc. offers students around the nation internship programs ranging from merchandise to advertising to store administration.

Although the corporation provides more than 100 internship opportunities, a mere six of those interns were Marquette students this past summer.

One student, Michael Koutnik, a first-year law student and previous Kohl’s intern, said he was shocked that such a major Milwaukee-area company had such a small presence on Marquette’s campus.

“People are not as aware (of the internships) as they should be for a company with such a large standing in Milwaukee,” Koutnik said. “The company needs to think about how they can get a little bit better focus out there.”

Koutnik, who had an internship in policy and compliance with particular focus on Kohl’s credit division this summer, said he gained skills that he would not have received in a classroom setting.

“They have internships that cater to anything and everything that a Marquette student would be looking for,” Koutnik said. “I did work that a full-time employee would be doing.”

The work he spoke of could be applicable to a job opportunity in the near future. According to Liz Hanna, university relations coordinator for Kohl’s, the corporation hires 70 percent of past interns into full-time positions.

“It’s a Fortune 500 company and we have great incentives for those that intern with us,” Hanna said.

The company also has programs for graduating seniors, such as a store management trainee program and merchandise analyst trainee program. The latter is a 12-week program resulting in the largest entry-level executive position at the corporate office, according to the Kohl’s campus recruiting website.

With all of these attractions to the program, however, why aren’t more Marquette students applying for and receiving internships from the company?

Koutnik said he only became aware of the opportunity through CareerManager, a university website focused on helping students find and apply for jobs and internships.

“I just happened to come across it,” Koutnik said. “I applied and had my first interview shortly after.”

Hanna noted that the University of Wisconsin-Madison provides the most interns and students. She said Marquette students simply aren’t aware of the program.

“We’re working on more promotion,” Hanna said. “We do the Career Fair, have information tables and have been doing presentations in classrooms.”

These presentations occurred in various classroom settings all over campus in past weeks. A larger Kohl’s information session will take place on Oct. 11 and on-campus interviews begin Oct. 12.

According to Kristin Finn, employer relations manager for Career Services, internships are the single most important thing when looking toward a career.

“Students need a real-world experience in what they want to do,” Finn said. “Internships allow students to explore their options before graduation … ‘trying on careers’ is essential.”

Hanna agreed that working an internship as a student is becoming a necessity. LD

“It is the fastest and easiest way to get your foot in the door,” Hanna said. “Internships attract the fastest pipeline of talent and they’re key in today’s job market.” LD