BMW Internships put USC Upstate Students on the Fast Track to Success

May 5, 2017 at 4:52 pm

Jane Harris recruits students from different colleges and conducts information sessions for the program.

When University of South Carolina Upstate student Jane Harris became interested in internships, she attended an information session that BMW provides to several colleges and universities.

Now the shoe is on the other foot as Harris, who is serving an internship in Human Resources at BMW, is instrumental in putting together those same information sessions for other students.

“I am working in the student program with BMW – I recruit students from different colleges and do information sessions for the program,” the business-administration major said recently. “I am learning a lot and gaining experience in recruiting, in selecting interns through resumes and communications with different departments, organizing programs for interns here at BMW, and just getting a lot of good exposure.”

The BMW internship program, which is offered to students enrolled in USC Upstate’s George Dean Johnson, Jr. College of Business and Economics, is representative of the University’s relationships with national and international businesses with Palmetto State ties.

“The main point to our students having internships at BMW as well as other companies is what George Dean Johnson, Jr. said best: he said it’s all about the students,” said Hannah Terpack, freshman advisor and student services coordinator at the Johnson College of Business and Economics.

“It’s important that we put our students forward for those types of opportunities because our students at the Johnson College are highly competitive,” Terpack continued. “We worked really hard to get our foot in the door and put some of our best and brightest students in their doors for these internships. … They’re not just copying papers and running errands around the buildings, they’re doing some solid projects.”

For Mardi Snipes, a second-semester senior from Greenville majoring in business administration, the

At left, Mardi Snipes discusses a project with another team member in physical logistics on the popular X5 and X6 models.

BMW internship is just one step on his way to his ultimate goal of working for the German automaker.

“I worked at BMW for a contractor … for about two-and-a-half years, and I loved the automotive industry and wanted to work for BMW directly and realized that I needed a degree to do that, so I left and went back to college three-and-a-half years ago,” he said. “I worked to make good grades so I could get into the intern program, and I was very fortunate to be offered a position.”

During his internship, Snipes said he’s working in physical logistics on the popular X5 and X6 models, specifically tracking key performance indicators in inbound receiving, in addition to other projects at the manufacturer. When he graduates, he said, he wants to pursue a master’s at Clemson University, then return to BMW. “I specifically went back to college to come back and pursue a career here at BMW,” Snipes said.

While the interns receive valuable real-world experience, BMW capitalizes on their youth, according to Eddy Bailey, BMW operational lead for student programs.

“One of the main benefits that we get is the chance to bring in some fresh minds and some fresh ideas when it comes to our way of thinking,” Bailey said. “These students come from all across the country, from different universities and schools, and they give us a chance to stay up-to-date on what’s going on in the educational system too.”

Bailey also noted that internships can lead to employment opportunities at BMW.

“In some cases,” he said, “an internship is like a long interview, and while we’re trying them out as a future employee, it also strengthens their toolbox when it comes to learning how our processes are done.”

Ammara Khalid, right, said her job largely involves gathering data and generating reports, and has helped her learn about data analysis.

Ammara Khalid, a USC Upstate senior majoring in computer information systems with a minor in business administration and health infomatics, said she appreciates the opportunity to learn about business at BMW. She said her job largely involves gathering data and generating reports, and has helped her learn about data analysis.

“I truly love this internship,” Khalid said. “They give me real work and they actually depend on me. I feel like they’re not giving you meaningless work, they’re giving you real work and they’re giving you other opportunities to learn about different departments.”

Stuart Elliott, a business administration major with a concentration in management, said he applied for more than a dozen internships, but BMW “is where I wanted to be.”

In his internship, Elliott said he deals with the physical logistics behind vehicle assembly, making sure “the parts are where they need to be, when they need to be there,” and working to streamline the process.

Stuart Elliott, at left, a business administration major with a concentration in management, said he applied for more than a dozen internships, but BMW “is where I wanted to be.”

“What I’m doing in the classroom directly relates to what we’re doing here,” he said.

Business-school interns have not always been a high priority for BMW, Bailey said, but, as times have changed, the company has found the value of broadening its intern program, which, in turn, has strengthened the relationship between BMW and USC Upstate.

“Our relationship with USC Upstate has really grown over the last several years,” Bailey explained. “In the past, we just dealt with a lot of engineering schools — that’s how the program was built — but now we’re doing a lot of in-state outreach so that USC Upstate students, Lander students, Anderson students are all getting the chance to work here now. It’s because the need for business interns has grown too, that has allowed us to go to the other schools, the liberal arts schools.”