Internship Program

Click here for a printable version of the : Company Internship Handbook – ID 2015


Industrial Distribution Internship Program

Company Handbook

Brenda Jochum, Internship Director | 308-865-8122 | [email protected]



UNK Industrial Distribution students are required to complete an internship for 12 academic credits during the summer term (mid-May to mid-August). The purpose is to provide students with professional and applied learning experiences in the industry.  Students will work for your company for 12 weeks (no less than 460 work hours) and be involved in required industry experiences, in addition to academic course requirements.


Typically, interns have one or two semesters of coursework remaining.  A small portion of students (10%) complete all campus coursework and intern at the end of their degree program.


Providing internships to UNK ID students is significant in recruiting for full-time positions. Graduates who pursue full-time employment in the industry return to their internship company 50% of the time and 80% of the time their full-time position is secured with a company involved in our internship program.


Required Components


Industrial Distribution internships are with industrial distributors or manufacturers that provide business to business experiences for the intern in most, if not all of the following areas:

  • Inside sales
  • Outside sales
  • Manufacturer sales, marketing, or operations functions
  • Distributor operations
  • Product training
  • Product and/or materials management
  • Customer service
  • Business procedures and workflow
  • Administrative and management procedures and responsibilities

In addition, the internship reinforces classroom instruction relevant to at least one of the following technical areas:  electricity, electronics, hydraulics, pneumatics, building products, power transmission, industrial tooling, industrial safety products, and/or

maintenance, repair and operation (MRO) supplies.
ID Program Competencies


Since the internship is a vital and integral part of our program, we have outlined below the core competencies of the Industrial Distribution program at UNK to assist you in developing the internship experience.  The ID program focuses on the following five areas which should also be incorporated into the internship program.


Branch Management: Students will be able analyze financial reports (e.g. Profit Loss Statements) to determine distribution branch profitability and make corrective actions to improve profitability.


Technical Sales: Students will be able to assist the customer in identifying and solving technical problems, and aid them in making informed purchasing decisions, through a comprehensive understanding of needs-based selling.


Purchasing: Students will be able to make purchasing decisions that affect the positive profitability of a distribution branch after analyzing inventory levels, vendor evaluation and availability, lead times and price.


Technology: Students will be able to use and apply technology, science, and mathematical information to make decisions and solve problems that result in a positive impact on the profitability of a distribution branch.


Writing in the Discipline: Students will be able to write as professionals in their discipline through the most appropriate form such as; essays, position papers, term papers, abstracts of articles, book reviews, reports or journals, etc.



Benefits All Involved



  • Expose your industry to talented young people.
  • Work with students eager to learn and apply their skills.
  • Preview skills and work performances of potential fulltime hires (12 week interview).



  • Apply classroom knowledge to real world experiences.
  • Evaluate areas of interest for fulltime employment.
  • Network with experienced professionals.
  • Develop time management skills in the balance of academic requirements and work responsibilities.



  • Develop and strengthen partnerships with business and industry.
  • Gain feedback for program development and enhancement.






Responsibilities of the Employer

  • Interview students interested in internship position.  We recommend you attend our career events (October & February).
  • Make offers in a timely manner.  More information under “Offering Internships” (page 4 of Handbook).
  • Provide potential intern with an overview of the internship experience, being sure to cover all items listed under “Required Components” (page 1 of Handbook).
  • After the site has been approved by the UNK Internship Director and Program Coordinator, the student will send the company an Internship Agreement to review, sign and return.
  • Place the intern in a location which provides diverse experiences and where the intern will be supervised by someone who will provide guidance, direction, and constructive feedback.  Mentoring and training are vital to a successful experience.
  • Assign work activities pertinent to the professional development of the intern.  This will include a meaningful project where the student can contribute to the company and demonstrate responsibility.
  • Provide intern with access to the internet for academic requirements of the internship.  This would include UNK email and our online course management program (Blackboard).
  • Direct intern to appropriate resources to complete the Company Profile (due end of first week).
  • Work with intern to develop a formal Training Plan (goals for experience) that will be due prior to the end of the second week.
  • Complete Midterm Evaluation and Final Evaluation of the intern (provided by ID program).
  • Assure adequate time is available for both the work site supervisor and student to conduct discussions/conferences to provide feedback and further instruction. Recommend once a week meetings.
  • Meet with the intern and Internship Director during a scheduled Site Visit, for purposes of consultation and appraisal of progress.  When traveling to the location is not feasible, a telephone call to the supervisor and intern will be conducted with the time set up in advance.
  • Provide feedback to the Internship Director as needed.  Contact the Internship Director in the event of problems or concerns.


Academic Requirements of the Student / Intern

  • Represent the University and ID program in a professional manner.
  • Complete preliminary paperwork prior to obtaining internship (provided by ID program).
  • Compile Company Profile.
  • Develop Training Plan, outlining goals for the experience.
  • Complete twelve Journals and submit at the end of each week on Blackboard (online course management program).
  • Participate in the Discussion Board each week, by reading and commenting on other intern journals.
  • Participate in three Web Conferences with other ID interns.
  • Complete a Midterm Evaluation and Final Evaluation and be sure to submit evaluations completed by the internship company.
  • Deliver a Final Presentation to the Internship Director and ID program faculty on the internship experience at the beginning of the fall semester.


Offering Internships

  • Internships are only available during the summer term (mid May to early August)
  • Offers for internships may be extended following the Fall Career Event.
  • While hiring interns has become increasingly competitive, we ask that companies allow students time to consider their internship offers before making a final decision.
  • The focus of the Spring Career Event is on internships.
  • Students and companies alike must recognize a UNK internship for ID students is a 12 credit hour academic experience as part of graduation requirements.
  • An internship company must provide the student with an overview of the internship experience which highlights all areas that our program requires (refer to Internship Company Handbook).
  • Before accepting a position, the student must submit a Site Approval Form to the ID program which includes the documentation from the company as to what the experience will involve.  Approval by the ID Program Coordinator and Internship Director must be complete before the student accepts an offer.
  • If a student has not secured an internship by March 31, the student will be moved to the next summer for their term of internship.


Keys to a Great Experience

1)    Provide intern with a well-rounded experience exposing to the many aspects of wholesale distribution. An ID internship provides experiences in the areas of warehouse, counter sales, inside sales, outside sales, purchasing, customer service, quotations, marketing, or other operations functions.

  • Actively participate in or shadow various positions within the organization.
  • Exposure to outside sales (minimum of 5 days/ more is encouraged) as this is the career path a high percentage of our students aspire to follow.
  • Provide at least one project (refer to examples from past internships).
  • Additional suggestions — spend a day with a customer to learn applications of your product, meet key people in your organization, immerse them in your company culture.  Remember:  this is a time to train as well as recruit for full-time career opportunities!


2)    Recognize the valuable contribution your company is making to the career development of a young professional.

  • Discuss with other employees their important role in assisting in the education of the intern and on UNK ID’s behalf, please thank your employees for providing valuable experience and guidance.
  • Introduce intern to members of your organization during their first day on the internship.
  • Assign work activities pertinent to the professional development of the intern.
  • Develop with the intern a project which will contribute to their learning experiences as well as benefit the company (see attachment).
  • Challenge the intern to progressively learn, by providing a variety of tasks and a broad spectrum of learning opportunities.


3)    Exposure to your company culture and new surroundings

  • Company outings, get-togethers with other interns
  • Meet as many people as possible from your company
  • City offerings (softball leagues, gyms, festivals, etc.)


4)   Communication is frequent and effective.

  • Early in the first week on the job, the supervisor and intern should discuss company expectations and develop goals for the experience (develop internship training plan).
  • Supervisor should meet with intern to discuss progress no less than once each week.
  • An individual from corporate should contact the intern no less than three times during the summer to ensure that required experiences are being met and the intern is being acclimated to the company culture.
  • Consider providing the intern with a mentor


5)    Complete requirements set forth by the University.

  • Work collectively with intern to develop training plan which is due to the Internship Director prior to the end of the second week.
  • Complete midterm and final evaluations and review with intern (forms provided by intern and found in their Internship Manual).
  • Participate in either a site visit or phone call from the Internship Director.


6)   Provide access to a computer with internet so the intern may complete course assignments which include posting his/her journal each week and responding to other student journals.  Video conferencing will also take place during scheduled times.



Common Questions Asked by Companies

What is the best way to promote our company to UNK students.
Successful recruiting is strongly tied to our Career Events (Fall & Spring).  These are our “big events” where students focus their energies on learning about career and internship opportunities available to them and companies showcase what they have to offer.  Information on our upcoming career event is on our website

Are there minimum or maximum numbers of internships a company can offer? No. However more interns increase exposure to the opportunities your company provides.

Does the Training Plan have to be done individually for each student or can a general one be utilized with pre-determined objectives?
Most effective is when the company sets overall objectives for the experience and then the student and supervisor tailor the goals outlined in the training plan based upon the company objectives. While developing the training plan, ask the student what types of experience they would benefit from while also discussing goals the company has for the internship.  Students are required to write all goals utilizing the SMART concept (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and trackable) as well as define specific activities in which to achieve these goals.  Students are provided with examples of internship plans of previous interns.

Would we see the journals evaluation that the student completes?
Student journals and evaluations are not shared unless the student opts to do so.  However, each year we compile data of all interns that can be shared with the company if requested.

Is the student required to complete their academic requirements (i.e. journal, discussion board, etc.) during work hours or is it to be done after work?
We ask that you provide the student access to a computer with internet capabilities.  Many will be in temporary housing situations without access and their academic requirements of submitting journals each week and responding to other intern journals requires internet access. Internet access is also needed for video conferences, often completed in the evening. Whether the time spent on academic requirements is compensated time is the discretion of the company.

Are there requirements on what we pay a student for an internship?
There are no requirements however students seek out competitive opportunities much as they would a full time position.  The average pay for an ID intern during the past few summers was $14.25 per hour.  Many of interns also received accommodations for housing.

What does the company need to submit to UNK prior to starting the internship program?
Please contact Brenda Jochum to discuss your proposal for an internship experience.  Students will be asking you for an overview of the experience that highlights our required components.   You also have the opportunity to submit your position on our website: (under CompaniesAdvertise new position).


Recommended Hiring Procedures

The program recommends that your company conduct the following prior to hiring an intern or full-time employee from UNK.

  1. Background check
  2. Drug test
  3. Request and review university transcripts.

Interns must have a 2.5 department GPA to enroll in the internship program.  Due to FERPA regulations, the ID program is not able to provide you with this information and it must be obtained directly from the student.

We suggest that offers contain a statement similar to “this offer is contingent upon acceptable results regarding background check, drug test, and GPA verification.”



Additional Questions

If you have questions, please contact Brenda Jochum, Internship Director
308-865-8122 (office)  |  308-440-3383 (cell)  |  [email protected]




Ideas for Industrial Distribution Internship Projects


Sales Project. Research product and find out ways to make more profitable

Sales Analysis of Traditional Distribution vs. National Accounts – Perform a sales analysis on products that sold through both the distribution chain and to national accounts

Increase Distributor Order Entries

Develop a Negotiation Tracking Method

Pro-Active Selling Project – Promote product and develop promotion for distributors

Collect and Organize Data on Pricing

Salesperson Database – Create database on sales expenses and profits for individual reps



Industry Marketing Project– research companies on revenue and industry specialties to determine if they meet qualifications to pursue as a customer

Products Brochure – Develop a brochure to market products

Channel Partner Promotion Promote product line to channel partner

Customer Promotion (i.e. golf tournament, poker tournament with vendor displays)

Product Solutions Trailer Promotion – Market and organize product solutions trailer (includes lunches, seminars, and scheduling locations)

Showroom  Promotion  – design showroom with products chosen for that specific month



New Building Setup- helped set up a new location; helped find bin locations for product and set up counter area

Product Shipping Dimensions Project – Determine product shipping sizes for various products and prepare database with information and make available to distributors

Old Inventory Report – compile excel spreadsheet with “dead” inventory in the warehouse. Find spec sheets for items and compile information to be handed out to customers

Warehouse Timeline. Develop in depth timeline of all activities in the warehouse

OEM Product Guide – Prepare a guide of OEM products for training purposes

Jobsite Trailer – Keep items stocked and responsible for special orders

Store Reorganization – Develop solutions on where to move everything during remodel as well as designing temporary parts counter

Create a MRO Database

Introduce a Recycling Program

Warehouse Organization – organize warehouse of a newly acquired location prior to inventory

Create a Distributor Reference Guide


Customer Service

Survey – Develop and send survey to customers on how company responded to their questions and inquiries