‘Leading Nebraska’ podcast highlights UNK student internships, workforce development

The University of Nebraska System has released a new episode of its “Leading Nebraska” podcast series, spotlighting the University of Nebraska at Kearney’s efforts to help students secure internships and prepare for the workforce.

The podcast features UNK alumna Tianna Engen, who landed an internship at the Kearney-based clothing retailer The Buckle as an undergraduate studying business administration. She spent two years at The Buckle as an internal audit and finance intern while pursuing her degree.

That experience, she said, helped her make the successful transition from college to career – a key reason why expanding internship opportunities is a key element of NU System President Ted Carter’s strategic plan for the university.

“You learned almost everyone’s job, how they worked and what they did. That was probably the best way to get to know the company the quickest, and I think that made my transition so much easier,” Engen, who’s now a corporate accountant at The Buckle, says in the podcast.

Engen is not alone at UNK in gaining work experience before graduation. In UNK’s College of Business and Technology, internships are required for some majors and encouraged for others. The college’s Career Center is tasked with providing personal and professional development for students through experiential learning and career planning.

Dustin Favinger
Dustin Favinger

“Internships and having experiences outside the classroom to complement what they are doing inside the classroom is the best way to provide professional development,” Dustin Favinger, the Career Center’s director, says in the podcast. “Because we have the business community that supports that, we have a great opportunity to connect our students with careers early on in their education.”

That commitment extends across campus, with UNK faculty, staff and administrators working continuously to build strong relationships with businesses by organizing career fairs and events that bring companies to campus and offering classes to help students explore career opportunities, among other efforts.

“I think it’s important that UNK has a role in that because we have access to the talent, but we also want to deploy the talent into the workforce. That’s why students come here – to be transformed. And it’s up to us to really be a pilot in that transformation,” Favinger says.

The NU System’s “Leading Nebraska” podcast shares stories of researchers, students and educators across the four campuses who are growing the state’s workforce and quality of life. Podcast topics include health care, agriculture, workforce development, national defense, entrepreneurship and others, featuring experts from UNK, UNL, UNMC and UNO.

Listeners may follow the “Leading Nebraska” podcast here.