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Meet Aiman Al Khachi '14, Intern at Portland Fire & Rescue and Portland Rose Festival
Meet Aiman Al Khachi '14, Intern at Portland Fire & Rescue and Portland Rose Festival

Now that we have kicked off Fall term, many of us may have begun thinking about our goals for this school year. One of those goals may be obtaining a job internship. Not only would an internship offer valuable, real-world job experience, it is also a way to gain additional skills that will complement your education.

Aiman Al Khachi, is one of the newest alums of Portland State University. Aiman graduated just this past June from the School of Business Administration, with a major in Advertising Management and Marketing with a minor in Design Management. Before he graduated, Aiman sat down with us and shared his internship experiences at not one, but two internships he completed during his time at PSU – at Portland Fire & Rescue, and at the Portland Rose Festival.

Q: Tell us about some of your job duties at your internships – at Portland Fire & Rescue and at Portland Rose Festival.

A: When I started at Portland Fire and Rescue, I was mainly answering the phone and taking questions from customers. Over time, I started working on more projects with the communications division. We would work on things like recruiting firefighters, or promoting fireworks safety, for example. I was basically helping with future events planning and staying aware of what we need to be looking for and planning for. I also worked with the HR department doing paperwork and helping out. I haven’t studied HR, but I learned a lot and I think it was a great opportunity.

At the Portland Rose Festival, things start really picking up around spring. I started off with data entry dealing with sponsors, keeping track of what they need and their information. We get a lot of sponsors and keeping track of them can be a big job. I also did some graphic design. They asked me to create the VIP Chalet tickets for the Grand Floral Parade. They also asked me to create signage for the business event “The Kickoff.” So it was a lot of work, but I’m learning a lot from it. I had never done data entry before, but I got to use Microsoft Access and learn those skills.

Q: How far in advance did you begin your search for internships?

A: I started looking for internships my freshman year. I didn’t get the first one that I applied for, but I didn’t give up from there. It challenged me to work harder and figure out what I could do to stand out. I started early and then I met with my advisor and the Career Center to get advice, and that helped a lot. I also try to share positions with my friends and they share with me, and that’s helpful.

I would recommend that students begin looking early and to do some informational interviews to get an idea for what the job is like. Informational interviews are great because they are often less pressure and more casual, but can really help you figure out what you want.

Q: How has your major helped prepare you for your internship?

A: I would say that it helped in many ways. In a lot of the business classes that I’ve taken, we learn about customer needs and wants, the features, benefits and advantages of the services, events or products that we’re working with, and I would say that it definitely helps with an internship. Sometimes I would come out of a class and think that I’m not going to use it in the future, but once I get to an internship, I think “Wow, this is an example of what we talked about in class!” I would say that I applied what I learned in class to my own experience. It might be hard to grasp when a professor explains something in class, but when you actually experience it, it clicks. You might not notice it, but when you learn from it, it’ll remind you of what you learned in class.

Q: What, if anything, has surprised you about this experience?

A: I would say the fact that my employers still treat me as a student first. At first I would worry that a project is going to be really big and take time away from my school work, but they know that I’m still a student and I’m still learning, so that was great.

Another thing that I learned is that you can still be an intern after you graduate, so if you’ve graduated but still want to intern, you can do that.

Q: What advice would you give other students considering an internship?

A: My advice for them would be to not give up.

It can be very competitive, so try to stand out and think outside of the box. When I apply for the internship, I try to put myself in the interviewer’s shoes and think about what kind of answers they are used to hearing and what I can say that will make me stand out.

I would also say to apply to the unpaid internships as well as the paid internships. You never know what you’re going to get out of the internship, and it could be worth it, especially if you can get hired at the end.

Getting credit for an internship

This series is made possible via reThink PSU grant support.