Jenna Groene is the first beneficiary of a new partnership between Sunflower Diversified Services and Barton Community College. And she couldn’t be more pleased.
Groene, a BCC sophomore, is enhancing her education and earning college credit as an intern at Sunflower. She is working closely with Vicki Keffer, Sunflower Human Resources director, and Judy Jacobs, BCC director of Testing, Advisement and Career Services.
Sunflower, a non-profit agency, serves infants, toddlers and adults with intellectual delays and disabilities in Barton, Pawnee, Rice, Rush and Stafford counties.
“My first impression was that Vicki Keffer and other Sunflower personnel are kind and helpful,” Groene said. “Every time I go to work at Sunflower, I also notice staff members genuinely love what they do.
“I am beyond appreciative for this opportunity,” she added. “Ms. Jacobs has been helpful and patient. She prepared me by offering suggestions about my resume and cover letter, and teaching me valuable information that will help me in my career.”
Groene, 20, was attracted to Human Resources because of the leadership role it plays within an agency or company. “It oversees many aspects of employee relations, which is a big responsibility. I am grateful for this hands-on learning experience.”
Originally from Winfield, Groene will graduate this spring and attend Kansas State University. She is a student ambassador and plays on the BCC tennis team.
Keffer said Groene is a “perfect fit” for this new internship program. “Jenna had the foresight to look into this opportunity to learn about Human Resources at our non-profit agency,” Keffer commented. “She is doing a great job and it is a pleasure to have her here.”
While the intern will reap many rewards, there are big fringe benefits to the program, Keffer noted.
“Sunflower is building ties to the college and students; relationships are what it is all about,” she explained. “We are excited to build this bridge between life at Sunflower and life at the college.
“This internship program is a new way for Sunflower to get our voice out to students and teachers,” Keffer added. “We always look for ways to increase the volume of our voice. We are grateful to Judy Jacobs and others at the college.”
Jacobs noted the new program was born after a number of students asked her about internship possibilities.
“This program was definitely student-driven,” Jacobs said. “Jenna is our pilot project and we couldn’t have asked for anyone better to represent us. Vicki has been awesome too. We appreciate her willingness to work with us and be flexible about the hours.”
Jacobs also mentioned that Groene demonstrated initiative in sending her resume and cover letter to Sunflower. “This is something the students have to do. We will not do it for them.”
Groene chose Human Resources but Jacobs said internships could be offered in a number of other disciplines. “They don’t have to be tied directly to the degree the student is pursuing,” she explained. “We can customize the objectives.
“We hope to continue this program and establish even more ties to the community,” Jacobs added. “This will result in new connections in our area and maybe employment after college.”
Interns receive one to four hours of college credit, depending on the amount of time at work; it is pass-fail only.
The program’s many objectives include information about: being punctual; acting professionally; learning new oral and written communication skills; being adaptable; demonstrating critical thinking; and working well with others.