International student not given equal opportunity at internship

Cristopher Artieda, a senior international student from Ecuador, planned to complete an internship at Franklin Manufacturing Inc. this semester, but Department Chair Dr. Peter B. Rim refused to go through with the paper work that would allow him to complete the internship. Artieda, an engineering technology major at UNA, sought to gain experience through an internship process that most engineering majors have access to. 

Many international students have the opportunity to enroll in an internship course to gain experience in their chosen major. In Artieda’s case, this was not an option as the Engineering Department does not have an internship course available to take.

“Because our situation–the engineering department does not have that course–I was not able to take that route, so I had to go through the Career Center,” Artieda said. “The Career Center has a way called the CPT so I could work, I just needed approval of the International Office and the Engineering Department.” 

CPT, which stands for Curricular Practical Training, is an off-campus training opportunity to help international students gain experience in their major. CPT is offered through the International Affairs Office, with the help of an employer, Career Center and the department the student is involved with. The student is also required to have a professor periodically sign off on a reflection of the internship experience which Artieda had lined up through Dr. Dony Gongqing Pan.

“We made sure Dr. Pan was willing to do what he was needed to do, we went to Rim and told him he just needed to say ‘yes,’” Artieda said. “I think he took that in a bad way, he said that there was no way, he was too busy and had other things to do.”

 

Harrison Kummer, a senior from the United States majoring in engineering technology, who had the same internship lined up at Franklin Manufacturing Inc. was in shock when Artiedea didn’t show up on the first day of the internship. Kummer and Artieda had very different experiences when it came to getting their internships in order. 

“I was at a career fair and I was approached by Dr. Gollapalli and asked if I wanted to do an interview for an internship opportunity,” Kummer said about his experience getting his internship. “I did the interview and got a follow up interview the next week, then was offered the opportunity.” 

Kummer’s experience proved different than Artieda’s. Kummer was encouraged to take the opportunity by the Engineering Department, whereas Rim did not take the time to sign off on papers for Artieda to gain the same experience he came to UNA to receive. 

“The department pushes us hard to get an internship, they send out emails and always let us know of opportunities available,” Kummer said. “For Dr. Rim to not give Chris the same chance…as we all do is unfair.” 

Both Kummer and Artieda said that neither has experienced nor witnessed any other acts of inequality toward international students. Artieda said he has experienced kindness since coming to UNA, but that this situation made him feel unsupported by the department. 

When asked about the matter Rim said he would not be able to discuss the situation, but he could give information regarding the process engineering students have to go through to get an internship. He said they are not required to obtain an internship but encouraged to do so. Rim said that students learn about opportunities through Lion Jobs, websites like Indeed, emails from the department, company postings and career fairs.