Special to the Laredo Sun
Church’s Chicken, one of the world’s leading chicken chains, is tapping Texas A&M International University (TAMIU) A. R. Sanchez, Jr. School of Business students for internship opportunities within the corporation.
TAMIU interns were recently flown to Church’s Atlanta headquarters, where they received free room and board while garnering world-class corporate experience.
Meet the TAMIU Interns
Texas A&M International University A. R. Sanchez, Jr. School of Business students interning at Church’s Chicken Atlanta, Ga., headquarters met with former interns and the creator of the Newman Internship with Church’s Chicken, David T. Newman, recently. Left to right, Sergio Perez, 2014 intern and BBA-Communications graduate and local store marketing coordinator; Rebeca Palacios, BBA Marketing, interning in Marketing; Cinthia I. Gonzalez, MBA Management, interning in HR and the Church’s Partners Foundation; David T. Newman, local franchisee; Rita Barrera, BBA, Accounting, interning in Franchise Development/Real Estate; Clarissa I. Villa, BBA, International Economics, interning in Distribution/Logistics, and Anthony B. Stahl, 2014 intern in Research and Development and Spring BBA-Accounting graduate.
The internship, informally known as “The Newman Internship with Church’s Chicken,” serves as a pipeline for students to discover the restaurant industry while placing the Laredo community on the radar of young talented professionals.
The internship took place over a four-week term and, in some cases, resulted in full-time career opportunities within Church’s Chicken.
“The goal was to place at least one intern with a full-time job offer within Church’s Chicken,” said David T. Newman, Church’s Chicken franchisee, “The idea was for students to realize that they could have a career in the restaurant industry that could utilize their business degree in an industry that they previously may have not considered. I want them to open their eyes and see that there are plenty of opportunities within the corporate world, with brands like Church’s.”
The internship was Newman’s idea. A longtime supporter of TAMIU’s Sanchez School of Business, he is committed to serving the community and providing opportunities for students. Newman has spoken at high schools and colleges to shed light on the industry and his role as a franchisee at the quick service company.
After noticing a general lack of knowledge from the students about the variety of roles within restaurant corporations, Newman knew he had to do something to get students excited and inside the doors of the corporate world.
“I had this idea of working with Church’s and sending a few kids up to Atlanta for a four-week internship program,” said Newman, “The first year, we had two interns. One worked in development to create a database and the other worked in marketing. The feedback was great.”
Ed Brett, executive vice president and chief people officer at Church’s Chicken, teamed up with Newman to place the first group of interns at the corporation’s headquarters for the program in 2013.
“Since 2013, we have taken six kids out of Laredo and brought them to Atlanta,” said Brett, “We gave all six interns an opportunity to work with us for a month and explore Atlanta.”
One of those interns who stood out to Newman and Brett was Sergio Pérez, a TAMIU Communications graduate (’14) who minored in marketing.
“We were impressed with Sergio’s engagement with our brand so we filed his name in our minds in case something came up,” Brett said.
When the opportunity for a local store marketing coordinator opened, the team immediately thought of Pérez as a likely candidate. Pérez, now a graduate of the program, was the first intern offered a full-time position with Church’s upon completion of the program.
As the brand’s new local store marketing coordinator, Pérez is responsible for integrating marketing strategies that align with the brand’s message.
“Church’s Chicken is like a family. They really took interest in me as a person and the departments that I was interested in working in,” said Pérez, “They have a genuine interest in their people and in seeing their employees succeed.”
The internship program has not only grown steadily, but has yielded a more competitive realm of applicants.
Leiza Nochebuena-Evans, TAMIU graduate admissions counselor, said competition is a good thing.
“The selection decisions have become much more difficult for Mr. Newman and Mr. Brett,” said Nochebuena-Evans, “I see it as an improvement. We want our best students to represent TAMIU and themselves in the corporate environment and we’re achieving that.”
Although it varies by department, interns typically have a chance to own a specific project according to the need of the department. Some interns have worked in research and development to help analyze a breakfast program. Others have developed marketing campaigns and assisted with Church’s Scholar Program, its non-profit foundation dedicated to offering deserving youth scholarship opportunities.
TAMIU students who will be interning with Church’s include Rebeca Palacios, BBA Marketing, interning in Marketing; Cinthia I. Gonzalez, MBA Management, interning in HR and the Church’s Partners Foundation; Rita Barrera, BBA Accounting, interning in Franchise Development/Real Estate and Clarissa I. Villa, BBA, International Economics, interning in Distribution/Logistics.
The interns recently met with two recent interns, Perez and Anthony B. Stahl, BBA in Accounting and graduating this Spring, who interned with Research and Development.
Opportunities to apply for this summer’s internship program with the corporation are currently open for submission. It starts in June 2015 and the opportunity is specifically available to students enrolled in the Sanchez School.
“The benefits of interning at Church’s are endless,” said Nochebuena-Evans, “From networking with high-level executives to observing the daily operations of a world-recognized corporation…The internship provides an opportunity to learn and understand the various departments that make up the company. It truly broadens the students’ perspective,” she concluded.
For more information about the program, please contact Nochebuena-Evans at email@example.com, call 956.326.2822 or visit offices in the Western Hemispheric Trade Center, Suite 204.
University office hours are 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. Monday-Friday.