A student intern waits on a customer inside of The Nittany Connection in downtown Sharon.

Business student utilizes work and class experience to complete successful internship

Michael Phillips completed his senior internship at The Nittany Connection, where he brought awareness of and new customers to "the shop around the corner" from Penn State Shenango.

By: Liz Izenas

Michael Phillips recently completed his business internship serving as manager of The Nittany Connection, a small retail store located in Cravings Café near the campus. Using what he learned in the classroom and his experience in sales, Phillips has brought awareness of and new customers to “the shop around the corner” from Penn State Shenango.

"Mike has exhibited many fine qualities and talent in his internship position at The Nittany Connection," said Business Instructor Georgia Macris. “He helped build brand awareness and create positive energy through his creative work with social media. Due to Michael’s creative advertising, many new customers are now shopping at The Nittany Connection for all of their PSU athleisure apparel, gifts, and memorabilia. Michael is also a strong team player and established very good relationships with various stakeholders.”

A graduate of Hickory High School, Phillips began his education at Penn State Erie, The Behrend College, and then spent a year at the University Park campus before moving back to the Shenango Valley where he managed his family’s recreation business in Hermitage.

Wanting to complete his education, Phillips enrolled in the Shenango campus’ Business program with a focus in management and marketing.

“When I first started college, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. But then I realized that I’d really like to own and operate my own company, so a business degree seemed the route for me to go,” said Phillips.

Phillips’ experience at the Shenango campus has been more than positive. Not all students enjoy working with others, especially in groups, but Phillips said he liked working in teams and utilized those learning experiences to help him during his internship.

“Being at Penn State Shenango was a great experience,” said Phillips. “I really liked working with my classmates and have made some very good friends these last couple of years. The small classes at Shenango force you to try your best. People notice when you’re not there — it makes you accountable, and it made me a better student.”

Most business students begin thinking about their senior internship at the end of their junior year, including Phillips, who began talking with several local companies about possible positions. However, once Phillips spoke with Mikalyn Duffy, The Nittany Connection’s prior intern, and Macris, who oversees the internships of the retail store, he knew that managing The Nittany Connection was the position for him.

“I talked with several businesses before deciding to complete my senior internship at The Nittany Connection with Mrs. Macris’ approval,” said Phillips. “And Mikalyn’s description of the job, the atmosphere in the Cravings’ building, and the experience that I was going to receive seemed like a good fit for me.”

During his internship, Phillips’ responsibilities encompassed product and time management, customer service, and budgeting, as well as marketing, utilizing social media and advertising.

“From day one, I was able to use my experience from my previous job and knowledge from my classes at Penn State to help me navigate and succeed,” said Phillips. “I learned a lot about advertising and social media, and found that I enjoyed it — utilizing my creative side, which I never knew I really had. But what I felt I improved most on was my time management skills.”

Phillips’ recommends that future Nittany Connection interns “have a positive attitude each and every day, and most importantly, understand that the more you put into a job, the more you will get out of it.”

Although Phillips has no immediate plans, he knows that he wants to try different things, possibly pursuing a career in management with the hopes of owning his own business one day.