BHSU students get a jump-start on their career goals by taking advantage of experiential learning through summer internships and learning institutes. Tye Johnson, senior special education major from Pierre, helped with the Summer Exploration Institute (SEI), a weeklong program hosted by BHSU for local students ages 8-10 to explore and examine the world around them.

The knowledge and skills that students receive at Black Hills State University are crucial to a successful career, but it is just as important for students to gain real-world experience in their fields. To help jump-start their career plans many BHSU students have been taking advantage of experiential learning through summer internships and learning institutes.

Coralea Baldwin, junior human services and sociology major from Ft. Pierre, worked with the South Dakota Department of Social Services as an adult services and aging intern. One of her responsibilities was to conduct focus groups with clients, a skill she learned in her Program Planning and Evaluation class at BHSU. Baldwin also planned and attended outreach events at nutrition sites throughout the state where she was able to meet the individuals she was helping. She says it was a very rewarding experience to meet people and to learn first-hand how appreciative they are for the services that are provided.

Baldwin has a passion for working with the elderly and plans to become involved as an advocate for the elderly after graduation this spring. She has learned invaluable social skills and much about her future profession by participating in the work she did over the summer. “The people you meet in your internship are the roots to networking for your future. It’s very important and rewarding to experience an internship, and I am very grateful for having the opportunity,” notes Baldwin.

Ross Patmore, senior elementary education major from Winner; Tye Johnson, senior special education major from Pierre; Blaine Harrowa, senior history education major from Spearfish; Jamie Williams, senior music education major from Gillette, Wyo.; and recent BHSU education graduates Teri Decker from Spearfish and Karen Hartwell from Belle Fourche helped with the Summer Exploration Institute (SEI), a weeklong program hosted by BHSU for local students ages 8-10 to explore and examine the world around them.

The goal of the program was to get the student-participants to use their critical thinking skills and creativity, and engage them in activities that involved real-life situations. The group focused on community service, culture, and the history of the Black Hills and how people lived long ago. Under the direction of Mary Jones, assistant professor of education at BHSU, they researched and helped develop lesson plans and a curriculum that included classroom time and visiting historical sites in the community such as the Homestake power plant, the D.C. Booth Fish Hatchery, an archaeological site at Fort Meade, a one-room schoolhouse on the Frawley Ranch, and the Western Heritage Center.

Patmore volunteered his time to help with the SEI so he could gain more experience working with younger students and to develop his skills as a future teacher. “I was happy to volunteer my time and work with the SEI to learn more about what to expect for my education classes this fall and eventually for my own classroom,” said Patmore.

Decker, who is currently a residential counselor at Canyon Hills Center in Spearfish, believes the experience not only helped her academically, but it also allowed her to get a sense of how important community involvement is. “This was a great experience and I cannot say enough to thank everyone involved,” she says. Decker will begin earning her master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction this fall at BHSU.

Mathias Dosch, junior psychology and sociology major from Pierre, worked with the South Dakota Department of Health as the health information technology analyst intern. Dosch learned how important it is to work with a team as he helped establish a new vendor contract for the state’s Health Information Exchange (HIE) network. He worked with major medical providers across the state, such as Regional, Sanford, and Avera Health, to connect their clinics and hospitals to the HIE network. Once connected, their clinics and hospitals can work with the Department of Health to access patient records from one centralized location. The Department of Health will also use this network to report diseases to the Center for Disease Control.

“This internship has taught me a lot about teamwork. It's imperative to learn how to cooperate and interact with others,” said Dosch. He believes the most important skills he will take away from this experience is what he learned about contract and grant writing – a skill be believes can only truly be learned with an on-the-job experience.

Some of the many BHSU students participating in summer learning opportunities are:

  • Jesse Komes, senior outdoor education major from Newell, interned at the Rocky Point State Recreation Area located on the Belle Fourche Reservoir. Among other responsibilities as a state park staff member, she helped serve as an instructor for a day camp for children ages 7-12 to learn about the outdoors.
  • Steven Seidel, senior biology major from Spearfish, interned at the McNenny State Fish Hatchery outside of Spearfish.
  • Amanda Wachendorf, senior biology major from Rapid City, took part in an internship with Mount Rushmore National Memorial.
  • Robert Dittmer, senior industrial technology major from Piedmont, had the opportunity to participate in two types of internships with the same employer. He worked at Glenn C. Barber & Associates, Inc., a general contracting company in Rapid City, in Project Management and Construction Technology.
  • Jed Morgan, senior business administration-accounting major from Spearfish, interned with Pioneer Bank and Trust in Belle Fourche.
  • Jessie Jamtgaard, junior business administration-human resources major from Gillette, Wyo., was awarded the opportunity to work in human resources with Cloud Peak Energy in Gillette. Her broad variety of duties included planning special events for all of the summer interns to compiling curriculum vitas (accomplishments) for the entire Cloud Peak Energy staff for their annual review process.
  • Dan Olson, senior business administration-tourism and hospitality management major from Sturgis, interned with Western Transportation in Sturgis as a tour bus driver. In his spare time he volunteered to drive members from the Black Hills Workshop to the Special Olympics in Sioux Falls.
  • Alex Reznikov, junior mass communication major from Spearfish, worked as an intern at the Spearfish Chamber of Commerce. He was able to practice his public relations skills as well as learn how the organization functions and operates on a daily basis.
  • Lisa Simmons, junior political science major from Spearfish, interned at KNBN News Center 1, an NBC affiliate in Rapid City.
  • Kalani Corpuz, junior mass communication major from Rapid City worked for Fisher Beverage in Rapid City assisting with developing accounts and working with the marketing team.
  • Tyler Diderrich, junior human services – probation and law enforcement major from Sheridan, Wyo., had the opportunity to intern with the Rapid City Police Department.
  • Lauren Larson, senior human services and sociology major from Rapid City, worked as a juvenile probation intern for the South Dakota Department of Corrections-Juvenile Community Corrections. Larson learned the intake process for clients, performed curfew checks, and did casework for clients.
  • Kelsey Adney, junior human services and sociology major from Pierre, interned for the South Dakota Department of Social Services-Office of Recoveries and Fraud Investigation.
  • Lacey Livermont, senior human services and sociology major from Belle Fourche, worked with James Awbrey, assistant social science professor at BHSU, as a research intern. She assisted in the creation of a virtual portfolio as an assessment tool for the human services major at BHSU along with the program’s website updates and learned grant writing skills.

The internship program at BHSU provides an opportunity for students to obtain University credit hours by obtaining short-term employment in a position that relates to the student’s chosen field of study.

Hands-on work experience integrates the student’s classroom conceptual learning with practical employment. Throughout the internship, these work experiences complement and reinforce the student’s theoretical knowledge acquired from textbooks and lectures. The internship program is designed to provide not only practical experience but also a detailed evaluation of the intern’s performance. This detailed evaluation provides timely feedback that will improve and enhance the student’s employability as well as provide direction and planning regarding the student's career choice.

Internships for students in any discipline can be arranged through the Career Center at BHSU, which assists employers in locating interns in all majors and guides students through the application process. To learn more contact the Career Center at 605-642-6277 or email Careers@BHSU.edu.