Applying the Classroom to the Real World: JMU Grad, Intern, and Employer Drive-In Conference Participant Cole Bradley Shares His Internship Advice

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Meet Cole Bradley.

Cole Bradley is a Computer Science graduate student here at JMU. Cole graduated from JMU in 2016 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science and a minor in Computer Information Systems. As JMU’s Network Engineering Intern since 2014, he has great advice for other JMU students considering an internship. You can also learn more about internships on our website!

Cole also attended our Career & Academic Planning Employer Drive-In Conference this past summer, which allowed him to share the JMU student experience on a student panel while networking with employers. First, let’s hear his internship advice!

How did you find out about your current internship? What was the interview process like?

“I was contacted by my current boss to apply for the position when they posted it to JMU JobLink. At the time I was working at the Carrier Tech Desk trying to work out the WiFi dead zones in the library and I was trying to get floor plans an locations of the wireless access points in the building. Applying on JobLink was about the same as any other initial application to a job. Resume, recommendations and just paperwork. The actual interview was with the whole team that I currently work with and my current boss (five people but one was absent that day). It was not a tense interview at all. It consisted of answering some predetermined questions for all candidates and then just Q&A and regular conversation with the team from there. Then I just waited for a call back.”

What made you decide to pursue an internship? Why do you believe that an internship is beneficial to your career success?

“My current internship I pursued because it relates to what I want to do as a career, which is network administration. I think internships are a great opportunity to see how things are ran in the real world. Experiencing the red tape when doing projects and how to work with a team.”

What new skills have you learned from your internship?

“I have learned how to design and manage a campus structured network. I have also learned how to best setup and inventory the physical equipment itself. I am still learning how to configure the many different components and we are also setting up new systems this fall which I will begin to learn.”

How has the learning outside of the classroom at your internship affected/helped your learning in the classroom?

[My internship] helps me see how often things from the classroom are brought back to the real world. Not always in a in-depth manner, but small details here and there always appear that relate back to the classroom.

Do you have a mentor or supervisor at your internship that has influenced you and your career path? What advice have they shared with you? How have they impacted you?

“I have a mentor that I work with the most. We typically work on wireless projects together and we try to find the time to work in a sort of lab setting to help teach me different concepts. All of my coworkers have had an impact [on me], really. They all have a good work life balance and still make time for fun while being dedicated to delivering a reliable network to the students, staff, and faculty of JMU. It gets you excited to work with a hard working group and I always enjoy going in to work.

What about your internship has challenged you? How have you overcome this?

“Learning how devices work together and how to make them work together is difficult and it takes a lot of time and effort to learn. It isn’t something you can learn in a day and everything builds on itself. I overcome it by trying to refresh myself on things I have already learned and try to do what I can to put into practice what I have learned. Such as practicing on test equipment how to set up routed networks and such.”

What is your advice to other students considering an internship? Why would you encourage them to pursue an internship, as you have done?

“The hiring process can take a while. It was a while before the posting on JMU JobLink opened up. Then it was at least a month until the posting closed. Then I believe another month until the interview. Then a couple more weeks until the offer and starting the job. I also applied to other internships this summer and they were always slow to get back. I would say apply as soon as you can and expect to wait a while and not to panic. Internships, I feel, are great. It is experience you cannot pass up. Even if it isn’t directly applicable to your career path it is certainly a learning experience and you learn more about the processes that businesses have to go through to get work done.

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So, what was Career & Academic Planning’s Employer Drive-In Conference?

The annual Employer Drive-In Conference provides employers who recruit at JMU valuable information and connections for their recruiting strategy.

At this past conference, employers heard from a student panel (shown above), which Cole participated in, faculty presenters, the Associate Vice President of Constituent Relations Cannie Campbell, and the Associate Vice President of Student Affairs Dr. Jim McConnel during this unique and exclusive event at JMU.

Employers hiring JMU students gained valuable insight on building their brand and utilizing successful recruiting strategies at JMU from these valuable contacts.

Cole answered one last question for us:

Why do you think it’s important to get involved with Career & Academic Planning while you’re a student?

“Because CAP is here to help students find their future career and it is important that they stay up to date with how students react to forms of media and that they are helping students with what they need help with. JMU has also done a lot for me and I want to give back in a way that also turns around and helps my peers.”

Look for ways you can get involved with Career & Academic Planning!

Here’s what employer participants shared about their experience: 

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