“It was a beautiful mistake.” These were the words Melvin Mariano used to describe how he inadvertently came to be a participant in an internship experience at UNM-Gallup. Mariano needed an extra class to maintain his part-time academic status when he signed up for what he thought was an on-line class. In fact, he had signed up for an internship class that is the result of a collaborative effort between UNM-Gallup and the Gallup Land Partners (GLP).

The partnership gives future entrepreneurs the opportunity to not only be involved in the day-to-day workings of area businesses, but also to see the connection between their school work and their career pathways. Mariano spent this semester working with Ramah Care Services and told UNM-Gallup faculty, staff and administrators how he looked forward to going to work every day. “I’m not a people person. It started out slowly, but I felt myself coming out of my shell. All it takes is one ‘spark’ and now I feel like I’m part of the Ramah Care Services family.”

In a recent presentation on their experiences, GLP interns talked about what it was like to be immersed in the business world and how the program helped them grow their confidence levels, improve their communication skills and apply the concepts they are learning in the classroom to workforce situations. Corey Holyan worked with Patty Lundstrom and Michael Sage at the Greater Gallup Economic Development Corporation and noted that her internship “was the most amazing experience. It gave me the challenges I was craving. Patty and Michael are so driven and helped me feel more confident about my abilities.”

Research done by the Ruffalo Noel Levitz Corporation shows that almost 78 percent of second year college students want some type of internship or mentorship opportunity that matches their program of study. The UNM-Gallup/GLP internship, which comes with an attached scholarship, provides this opportunity to students while allowing them to earn up to six credit hours in a semester by working 10-20 hours per week with their local business partners. 

Michelle Eriacho interned with the Digital Media Group and found that her work experience this semester helped her with the critical thinking skills that are not always part of a college curriculum. “I strengthened my time management skills, improved my people skills and learned the importance of understanding client wants and needs,” she said.

Rylen Sheche also worked with the Digital Media Group and helped design the slogan for the group which is “You provide the vision, we provide the solution.” Sheche felt his internship was very beneficial and “formed a better bridge between the university, the program and the community.” As part of the newly formed Design and Digital Media Student Group at UNM-Gallup, Sheche and several of his fellow interns set up a booth at the Gallup Arts Crawl to demonstrate their graphic design and photography skills.

Renaldo Fowler interned with Gallup Arts and shared that not only did he gain experience by being accountable for his time, he was encouraged by his mentor Carol Sarath to always make school work his most important priority. Chris and Bernard Bond, known as “The Bond Brothers,” spent their semester working with the Gallup Journey developing the Gallup Travelers Guide Booklet. They took this opportunity to collaborate with other interns in the program and Chris noted that part of the learning experienced involved “assembling a team which is something I hadn’t done before.” In true entrepreneurial fashion, Chris and Bernard are getting ready to establish a Limited Liability Corporation to begin their own marketing business.

Adam Wilkey, GLP representative, praised the students and the program by stating “I’m honored to work alongside each student as we learn, improve and succeed. I personally enjoy watching the confidence and ability of the students grow and flourish at the end of each semester," he said. "I can’t wait to see what they will accomplish and who they become.” 

For more information on hosting a business intern, contact Aaron Kowalski (505) 879-9759 or Adam Wilkey (505) 703-4829.