VUJ internship provides business experience

By LEANN BURKE
lburke@dcherald.com

JASPER — It all started in middle school.

Back then, Vincennes University Jasper student Riley Rumfelt of Jasper started playing video games and found an interest in computer hardware and information technology that eventually led him to pursue an associate degree in software development and networking from VUJ. Through that, he found VUJ's new bIT — business and information technology — program.

Modeled loosely on the Career Advancement Partnership for technical maintenance students, bIT places students pursuing associate degrees in business studies or information technology in internships with local businesses. Angie Allen, department chair for business, information technology and public service, launched the program last school year, placing four students, including Rumfelt, in internships. Rumfelt and another student were placed at Matrix Integration in Jasper, one student was placed with German American Bank, and one was placed with Pike County Economic Development.

The goal of bIT is to combine VUJ's education with real-world experience to offer students a well-rounded experience in their fields. Allen, who worked in business before pursuing a career in education, saw a need for more real-world experiences for students and designed the program to meet those needs.

"I have always thought that there's a disconnect between between education and experience," Allen said.

For Rumfelt, the internship at Matrix Integration solidified his interest in the IT field. His internship began in October and is ongoing. So far, he's worked the customer service help desk, installed internet-based phone systems and worked with computer and networking hardware. The latter has been his favorite.

"I'm a big nerd when it comes to computer hardware," he said.

Learning to work with clients has been the biggest take away from his internship. That's something he wouldn't have gotten from VUJ classes alone, he said. It's also been helpful to work with professionals on the most up-to-date professional hardware and develop relationships with his co-workers.

"They've been pretty good mentors," Rumfelt said.

For Allen, Rumfelt's experience with bIT is a success story.

Going into the 2020-21 school year, Allen said, she's looking for bIT to expand. Although COVID-19 has caused some local businesses and bIT students to take a step back from the program, there are still several companies on board to house internships, and eight returning students have applied for the program. Allen expects to have more applicants once she reaches out to this year's incoming class with information about the program.

To participate in bIT, students must first apply and be accepted to VUJ. Then, they must declare a major in business or information technology and fill out the bIT application. Once accepted into the program, they will go through an application and interview process with the partner companies. Being accepted into bIT does not guarantee a student an internship.

For more information on bIT, visit https://www.vinu.edu/web/jasper-campus/bit-application.




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