a woman in a red shirt goes over paperwork with an intern sitting at her computer

‘That internship prepared me for my current role’

Chiamaka Ekwegh didn’t know how valuable participating in the Hull College of Business Internship Program would be at the time, but today she sees the worth of the experience in preparing her for the next step.

Ekwegh graduated from Augusta University’s James M. Hull College of Business in May 2023 with a Bachelor of Business Administration with a concentration in health care management and is currently a client service associate with ADP. She said the internship gave her access to prospective employers.

“It was access to getting a full-time job because that internship was how I transitioned to a position here,” Ekwegh said. “Without the internship, I don’t think I’d be at ADP today. That internship prepared me for my current role.”

The internship program is offered to all business students in their junior or senior year who have completed the foundational business courses, as well as core and elective courses. It requires completing a minimum of 120 hours onsite, including working on a project.

Along with the onsite hours and the project, students must complete three reflection journal assignments, two employer/supervisor evaluations, a site evaluation and a final presentation.

Dean of Hull College Mark A. Thompson, PhD, said the internship program is a critical step to students being properly prepared when they enter the workforce.

“We require this so that all students benefit from the experiential learning experience from the internship,” said Thompson, who has been teaching the internship course every semester since the summer of 2021. “There is so much that is learned beyond the job or project. Students learn teamwork, project management, conflict resolution, communication skills, networking, critical thinking, problem-solving and much more.”

a woman in a colorful shirt and black cardigan holding papers walks and talks to a man in a gray pullover holding papers
Ashley Grose, accounting director for Hull Property Group, speaks with intern Steven Neal, a senior accounting major at Augusta University.
Getting a step ahead

Steven Neal, a senior accounting major set to graduate in fall 2024, has been interning at the Hull Property Group since October 2023. He said the experience has been nothing but positive, and he appreciates all that he’s gotten to do.

“To be honest, I pretty much expected what it was going to be like, and I knew going in what I was going to be doing,” he said. “I feel like I’m doing a little bit more than what other interns are doing. I’ve been enjoying it.”

Neal said he started looking for internships at accounting firms when he was a sophomore because he didn’t know what other options were available. He realized that most accounting firms were focused on seniors who might be willing to work immediately after school and not sophomores or juniors.

Then Neal attended Hull College’s Accounting Night where he met with a representative from the Hull Property Group, and they just “clicked.” An email, phone call and interview later, he had an internship.

Ashley Grose, accounting director for Hull Property Group and Neal’s supervisor, said intern experiences at the company start at the very beginning with the direct communication they provide from the management group, as well as owner James Hull himself.

“Everyone here is treated as if we’re all on the same level. We come in, and we’re a team from day one,” Grose said. “I think that’s a unique experience for our internship program. I also think that the experience of learning how to network internally is extremely important. We try to expand on that. Anybody you sit down with can learn something if you’re listening to what they’re saying. You can take something from every conversation.”

“Everyone here is treated as if we’re all on the same level. We come in, and we’re a team from day one. I think that’s a unique experience for our internship program. I also think that the experience of learning how to network internally is extremely important.”

Ashley Grose, accounting director
for Hull Property Group
Maximizing the experience

Juliana Ternier, a business major concentrating in digital marketing, has been interning at Serotta Maddocks Evans (SME) CPA since the beginning of the year with supervisor Becky Dearden.

Ternier said, in the beginning, it was more about learning and understanding who the people are that work at SME and what the standard is, and then she was able to apply what she had learned in the classroom to real-world situations.

“Becky has been teaching me marketing from an accounting firm perspective, which, when I first got the internship and Daniel Rice showed me, I was a bit surprised about this offer because I don’t even know how marketing works in accounting. It was just a new experience, but having that perspective of how to reach out to people through email, marketing or social, it was a new thing for me. Understanding that and having Becky guiding me through it was very helpful,” Ternier said.

Woman talking
Becky Dearden, marketing director for Serotta Maddocks Evans (SME) CPA, said internship experiences are highly valuable for students as they provide an opportunity to apply what you learn in school to a real-world setting while gaining practical skills and insights that go beyond the classroom.

Dearden, who is SME’s marketing director, said most internships at the company focus on tax preparation, audits and marketing. She said, from the beginning to the end of a student’s internship, expectations center around initiative and drive, professionalism, adaptability, critical thinking, collaboration, communication skills and the ability to complete tasks.

“We expect students to demonstrate initiative and a proactive approach to their work. Taking ownership of tasks and showing enthusiasm for learning and contributing is key,” Dearden said. “Interns should be open to new challenges, ready to embrace change and demonstrate flexibility in their tasks. We encourage interns to think critically and analytically. Problem-solving skills are highly valued, and by meeting these expectations, students can maximize their learning experience, contribute positively to the workplace and set themselves up for success in their future careers.”

Ternier is the first marketing intern SME has had in almost three years. In her experience, the connection between the college and company have been great because she can work in the morning and go to school in the afternoon. She credits counselor James Mays with mapping out a schedule and SME with being mindful that she has classes to attend.

“As students, we appreciate having a company and a school that are very supportive while adjusting to the work/life balance,” Ternier said.

Dearden said any opportunity students have to experience success and engagement, learning and community involvement is vital when applying for an internship.

“It ensures that students not only gain technical skills but also cultivate a holistic set of competencies, including teamwork, communication and social awareness,” she said. “A well-rounded internship experience enhances the student’s resume, personal development and future career prospects. It also reflects positively on the organization, as it demonstrates a commitment to nurturing talent and fostering a positive and inclusive workplace culture.”

Dearden said the interns at Augusta University are the “lifeblood of our organization, injecting fresh perspectives, innovative ideas and an eagerness to learn into every aspect of our work.” Aside from the internships, she mentioned SME supports the college in many aspects from committees, case competition judges and panel speakers to the annual Alumni BBQ event.

“AU gives us a lot of opportunities to partner and get in front of their students. They embody the future of excellence and contribute significantly to our mission, leaving a lasting impact on our institution and the communities we serve,” Dearden said.

“There is so much that is learned beyond the job or project. Students learn teamwork, project management, conflict resolution, communication skills, networking, critical thinking, problem-solving and much more.”

Dean of Hull College Mark A. Thompson, PhD
Strengthening relationships

Korde Jones graduated in 2021 and is currently working in marketing at HPG. He said he was able to explore different departments during his internship, which gave him an idea of what he wanted to pursue moving forward.

Jones attributes a lot of his success to the internship program after he took five years off from college and credits his advisors for supporting and encouraging him along the way.

“Throughout the program, it allowed me to hone the skills that I already had, as well as develop new skills that I am able to use in my current career,” he said. “It prepares you because everyone’s different and has their own skill sets and strengths. As an intern, you’re able to see people execute those strengths, and you’re able to see where you want to fit in and where you want to be apart to help.”

Jones now represents the company with student recruitment while championing for AU and the Hull College of Business.

Thompson said the employers that host interns have good relationships with AU and the Hull College as all involved strive to have interns add value to the company while also providing a commitment to provide a valuable learning experience for the student.

Students talking with local business representatives
Augusta University’s James M. Hull College of Business hold various events throughout the year connecting their students with local businesses. [Michael Holahan/Augusta University]

The relationship between the college and Hull Property Group starts with owner James Hull, for whom the college is named. Grose said Hull has partnered with and contributed to the College of Business for a number of years and finds it important to bring quality, higher-level education to the community.

“As a firm, we have partnered with Hull College of Business for the last 15 years,” Grose said. “We use our partnership as a facilitator for bringing in the best employees for our company. Our internship program was a huge part of that. We truly value our relationship.”

Dave Brendza, division vice president general manager for ADP’s locations in Augusta, Georgia, and Louisville, Kentucky, said one of ADP’s core values is social responsibility and noted they try to engage in the community that supplies them with their biggest asset: the people.

“More importantly, it allows the associates and the interns that come here to get out into the community and help us promote our brand, and that really helps us to attract and retain great talent,” he said.

“ADP has a strong relationship with Augusta University and the Hull College of Business. We recruit heavily out of the university, and a lot of our candidates come from there,” Brendza said. “We really have an opportunity to try to work with the university to understand the skills that are necessary for somebody to be successful here. In addition to that, ADP sponsors the Women’s Leadership Academy, and our ADP Foundation supports the university through scholarships.”

Like Love Haha Wow Sad Angry
man smiling
Written by
Miguelangelo Hernandez

Miguelangelo Hernandez is a senior communications and media coordinator at Augusta University. You can reach him at mighernandez@augusta.edu or (706) 993-6411.

View all articles
man smiling Written by Miguelangelo Hernandez

Jagwire is your source for news and stories from Augusta University. Daily updates highlight the many ways students, faculty, staff, researchers and clinicians "bring their A games" in classrooms and clinics on four campuses in Augusta and locations across the state of Georgia.

graphic that says download jag mobile with icon buttons below that say download on app store and download on google play with a picture of a phone