Altar’d State internship leads to a full-time position for Maryville College student

Altar’d State internship leads to a full-time position for Maryville College student

Nov. 21, 2019

Entering the workforce post-college can feel overwhelming and intimidating for many graduates.

To better prepare students for today’s job market, Maryville College introduced the Maryville College Works program, which integrates career-related advising and experiences into its four-year curriculum. One requirement is that each student completes a significant practical experience (SPE) in his or her field before graduating. They can be completed in a variety of ways – an internship, volunteer work, a Senior Study, a study abroad experience, a creative project or another experience related to a student’s career goals – but they provide more than just firsthand work experience. In some cases, SPEs can jumpstart a career, helping students land their dream job.

That is exactly what happened for Maryville College student Leeanna Beeler ‘19, when she was offered a full-time position after interning at the Maryville-based clothing company Altar’d State.

 Altar’d State has experienced great success since opening its first coffee shop turned retail store in 2009. That one Knoxville store quickly grew into what is now over 110 retail locations throughout the country. In 2017, the company decided to move their headquarters to Maryville, Tenn. Since then, Altar’d State’s growth and proximity to Maryville College has made the company an ideal career partner for MC.

“Altar’d State’s arrival to the downtown Maryville office has provided many great opportunities for our students, especially in the areas of accounting and finance,” said Christy McDonald Slavick, director of the Maryville College Career Center. “The company’s growing success has allowed for our students to get opportunities under the mentorship of the company’s controller.”

Beeler, a finance/accounting and music double major from Corryton, Tenn., first found out about the internship in Altar’d State’s financial department through the Maryville College Career Center. Impressed with the company’s commitment to giving back – the company’s motto is “Stand Out. For Good.” – Beeler had been interested in working for Altar’d State for a while and had even previously applied for another internship opportunity.

“I had been to one of their stores, and when I walked in, their Mission Monday quarter was for animal shelters and adoption agencies, and I fell in love with their mission and their company,” Beeler said, referring to the company’s commitment to supporting non-profit organizations that help those in need. Each season, Altar’d State identifies a cause to support, and each store location chooses a local nonprofit organization to fit that cause. Ten percent of that store’s net profits from each Monday (Mission Monday) during the season are donated to the selected organization. Employees are also encouraged to volunteer with the non-profit.

During her internship, Beeler primarily assisted the financial department with filing assets and business licenses, and, eventually, submitting business license applications. However, her internship taught her more than business and finance skills. Perhaps most importantly, she learned how to successfully work in a professional atmosphere, from knowing when to ask for help to prioritizing tasks.

“With school and deadlines, it is easy to prioritize, but in a work environment that does not have definite deadlines, prioritizing is a struggle sometimes,” Beeler said.

Working within a corporate office also helped to dispel any reservations she had about office environments.

“It taught me that working in an office is great, as long as the environment is a positive and uplifting one, like Altar’d State’s,” Beeler said.

Slavick agrees that experiencing the job and the company culture firsthand is one of the most beneficial parts of internships.

“Internships are a great opportunity for students to learn if they fit in a job or if they like an organization’s culture,” Slavick said. “Additionally, it helps students build on-the-job skills to help prepare for full-time work opportunities.”

Millie Hodge, Altar’d State controller and Beeler’s supervisor, said that Beeler made a great impression during her internship. This positive impression is what ultimately led to Beeler securing a full-time position at Altar’d State. When an employee in the finance department moved to a different position within the company, she seized the opportunity to apply for the job as an accounts payable specialist. After seeing what Beeler was capable of and how she fit into the work environment, Hodge said it made a lot of sense to offer her the job.

“She always came in with a great attitude; she got along well with our team,” Hodge said. “She was super organized, and she accomplished a lot more than we had initially expected her to.”

Beeler had always hoped that her internship would lead to a full-time position, so she was very excited when the company made an offer. In her new role, her responsibilities include paying vendors, entering invoices, depositing checks and all credit card transactions from stores, and entering the freight from the shipping of the inventory to stores and paying it.

With this successful internship in the books, Hodge said she looks forward to an ongoing relationship with the College and is interested in having more Maryville College interns in the finance department.

“We definitely love having students that have a good work ethic and are willing to do some small things that are a big help to us,” Hodge said.

Hodge encourages students interested in interning at Altar’d State to submit their resumes via the MC Career Center.

For students on the fence about an internship, Beeler urges them not to be intimidated by having an internship while attending school, adding that balancing her multiple responsibilities was much easier than she expected – and it had a massive payoff. She said she hopes current and future students will recognize the importance of the practical professional experience that internships provide.

“An internship is usually a stepping-stone into a career, and it is crucial for going into the workforce after college,” Beeler said. “School life is very different from work life – at least for me it was – and I had to adapt very quickly to the change. … Just remember, an internship would not get in your way during a semester, so go for it. You will be thankful you did!”

By Evy Linkous ’16  

Maryville College is a nationally-ranked institution of higher learning and one of America’s oldest colleges. For more than 200 years, we’ve educated students to be giving citizens and gifted leaders, to study everything, so that they are prepared for anything — to address any problem, engage with any audience and launch successful careers right away. Located in Maryville, Tennessee, between the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the city of Knoxville, Maryville College offers nearly 1,200  students from around the world both the beauty of a rural setting and the advantages of an urban center, as well as more than 60 majors, seven pre-professional programs and career preparation from their first day on campus to their last. Today, our 10,000 alumni are living life strong of mind and brave of heart and are prepared, in the words of our Presbyterian founder, to “do good on the largest possible scale.”