MBA program matches internships to students’ career dreams - The University of Tulsa
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MBA program matches internships to students’ career dreams

What do NASCAR, Spirit AeroSystems, Ingredion and the Ryder Cup have in common? People passionate about working in their industry.

The full-time Master of Business Administration graduate degree at The University of Tulsa incorporates experiential learning into the program through the MBA Cohort Internship. These internships, which span industries and the globe, ensure students gain real world experience before entering the workforce in their respective fields.

“The internships provide an opportunity for graduate students to not only learn the nuances of the field they might want to work in, but also lead to full-time employment before graduation,” said Leonelle Thompson, assistant dean for TU’s Collins College of Business and director of the Business Career Center. “Many students are asked to continue after the summer in a part-time capacity with their employers.”

This summer, Thompson is working with four such students who are interning at companies that share their interests in human resources, sports management, accounting and marketing. All are set to graduate in December.

Devin Nelson

Human resources at Spirit AeroSystems

“When I graduated with my undergraduate degree, I felt the overwhelming desire to do more. Being a part of the business school honor society, Beta Gamma Sigma, I had the network to apply to MBA programs at some pretty prestigious schools and TU was one of them,” Devin Nelson said.

Nelson is interning at Spirit AeroSystems where he is taking on human resources and marketing responsibilities.

“Through this experience, I have had the opportunity to meet the CEO of the company, present to company executives, be a part of the organizational culture and network with professionals who have been in the aerospace field for over 20 and 30 years,” he said. “Interning with Spirit AeroSystems has been an experience I am grateful for and will never forget.”

Devin Nelson at MBA Cohort Internship
Nelson at interning at Spirit AeroSystems

Thompson has helped Nelson navigate his career options. “Devin is a mover and shaker. It’s great to see students like him take advantage of all the resources TU has to offer,” she said.

“I have a small business, and that’s a big part of why I am in graduate school — to gain the necessary resources and tools to be able to grow my business. Plus, I have a hunger for knowledge, and I believe in continuous learning,” Nelson said.

Jordan Mitchell MBA Cohort Internship

Sports management at NASCAR 

“I knew a master’s degree would help me reach my long-term career goals. It was just a matter of when and where I would further my education. Tulsa ended up being a great opportunity with my situation,” said Jordan Mitchell (BSBA ’18).

“I have family members in corporate America, and I’ve always spent time around athletics, so my interests grew organically from exposure to both,” Mitchell said. His work with NASCAR aligns with both interests. “This internship allows me to gain valuable experience and connections in an industry I’m interested in working in where knowing people is a priority,” he said.

Jordan Mitchell Playing TU Football
Mitchell playing TU football in undergrad

From this internship, Mitchell has experienced the breadth and complexity of operations surrounding a professional sporting event. Months of planning and marketing lead up to event day when all the preparation pays off.

“Jordan is a student who started working early on his career development,” Thompson said. “He knew the area he wanted to be in and balanced the demands of previous internships while being a student athlete in undergrad.”

Kelly Voss MBA Cohort Internship

Accounting at Ingredion

“I initially worried that I did not have enough real-world work experience before beginning my master’s. I went right into the MBA program after undergrad,” said Kelly Voss (BSIBL, BA ’18). “TU’s MBA program does a great job of catering to people in all stages of their lives and careers and has ultimately been a great fit for me.”

As a Tulsa undergrad, Voss majored in international business & language and Spanish. She appreciates how seamless TU made the transition from undergrad to graduate school with help from staff like Thompson.

“I worked with Kelly to zero in on what type of work she wanted to do. We didn’t focus on job titles at first. We discussed working for larger companies that would allow her to showcase her analytical skills and have worldwide mobility within an organization,” Thompson said.

Voss landed an internship with Ingredion, a Fortune 500 company that recently moved some of its operations to Tulsa. She made initial contact with Ingredion at TU’s Business Career Fair.

Kelly Voss in Seville
Voss at Plaza de España in Seville, Spain

“My internship this summer is actually in accounting, which is not my area of expertise. Ingredion, however, does a lot of business internationally and particularly in South America, which is what initially caught my eye about the company,” she said. “I’m good at understanding the ‘big picture’ business concepts of a company and dealing less with day-to-day operations. For that reason, working in accounting has challenged me to think differently and has taught me to better understand the daily operations of a business with global reach.”

As part of her duties, Voss will travel to Ingredion’s corporate headquarters near Chicago to make a presentation to company executives about the projects she worked on this summer as well as attend workshops and lectures with other interns.

“So many people have told me that they wish this was something their internship had offered. I feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to visit corporate headquarters and gain insight from some of the company’s top leaders,” she said.

Nikki Marquardt MBA Cohort Internship

Marketing the Ryder Cup 

“I’ve always loved sports in general and specifically golf, so combining it with business is the perfect fit for me,” said Nikki Marquardt (BSBA ’18). “This is a dream internship for me.”

Marquardt is interning for the biggest golf event in the world: the Ryder Cup, which is run by the PGA of America and takes years of planning to execute seamlessly.

“I played on the golf team at TU and had a fun time doing that. In undergrad, I loved my sports management classes, and they got me excited to combine sports and business in my MBA program,” she said. Marquardt majored in marketing and minored in sports management and psychology during her undergraduate studies.

Nikki Marquardt Playing TU Golf in Undergrad
Marquardt playing TU golf in undergrad

“Nikki is the epitome of combining a passion with a degree. Her love of golf led her to seek an internship that combined sports and business operations,” Thompson said.

The internship focuses on marketing and promotions, which dovetails with the type of career Marquardt is pursuing. The MBA Cohort Internship supports the long-term success of students by facilitating connections that can help secure those first career stepping stones.


The Collins College of Business Master of Business Administration program prepares students for a future where they can make a difference. Students develop critical-thinking skills and enhance their creative problem-solving abilities. You can apply today here.