BOOK Program awards prize money to five winners


Kinsley Alley

Senior Tyler White is the grand prize Book Project winner with his Community America Credit Union internship over the summer, winning $1,500.

On Sep. 17, five students were awarded prize money that ranged from $250-$1700 from the BOOK Program for their summer internships. BOOK stands for “Baker Organizational Observation for Knowledge” and was co-created by Professor of Business and Economics Dr. Kevin McCarthy and former professor John Pepper with the help of Career Services. 

The BOOK Program is open to any student above sophomore status that participates in a summer internship for college credit, no matter their major. After the summer, students participate in a competition explaining to the judges where they worked and some of the jobs they had to do for the company.

Started in 2007, McCarthy was looking to create an innovative program that he could get involved in to help students when he was approached by a former colleague with this idea. 

“It’s an opportunity for students to show some initiative because they really have to learn about the organization [they chose] above and beyond what their internship really demands,” McCarthy said. “And I think the employers love to see this because [if] their interns are very understanding of the business, they can be more valuable.”

This year eight students competed and five were awarded prize money: Senior Zoe Brewer, Senior Josephine Moore, Junior Lauren O’Dea, Senior Raymond Swopes and Senior Tyler White.  

Business and finance major senior Zoe Brewer was awarded $250 for her internship at Lockton, an insurance brokerage, as well as an extra $200 for incorporating a section about social responsibility into her presentation. Social responsibility reflects how involved the company is in its community through philanthropy or volunteer efforts. Brewer was introduced to the program by her advisor, Dr. McCarthy. 

Even though this internship wasn’t directly connected with her major, Brewer still gained valuable skills that will help her later.

“I think that networking and getting to know people, being able to interact in a professional setting, learning how to time manage, manage multiple projects and be able to network professionally were the key takeaways from that,” Brewer said.

Brewer was involved with working with client’s policies, which is a summary of their insurance coverage. As well as helping to update policies and transferring them to new policy numbers. Brewer also had the opportunity to work on different projects from different specialties within the company.

Brewer admits that while initially she wasn’t sold on the idea of participating in the BOOK program, she’s glad she did.

“Honestly, I’m glad that I [participated],” Brewer said. “Because I had to put myself out there at my internship, it kind of gave me a leg up I think in terms of the job recruiting process because I would love to work for Lockton come graduation.”

Overall Brewer knows that her internship was beneficial to her and her future career and knows what she learned this past summer will be very helpful.

“I think it’s a good way to get yourself out of your comfort zone and honestly, you’re doing the work anyways at your internship, so just being able to present on it and win money for it kind of just like, why not?” Brewer said.

Junior Lauren O’Dea spent her summer working for Arvest Bank and was awarded $250.

Over the summer, she worked in data manipulation, data analysis, and assessing Arvest Bank’s financial records to create both Microsoft Excel reports and Tableau reports.

O’Dea explains that the BOOK program gave her an opportunity to connect with her coworkers on a meaningful level.

“What I really enjoyed was being able to go back and look at everything that I learned and expand on it. So, really putting the [BOOK] presentation together, I got a lot more experience with my coworkers, because I got to ask them all the questions. Then I was able to put that in a huge document and just go through all the information, it was really helpful just to just to go back through it and expand on what I learned,” O’Dea said.

Senior Raymond Swopes received $850 for his participation at Bartlett & West, an engineering firm. Swopes’ advisor, Professor of Business and Economics, Dr. Judy Smhra suggested that he check out the program and explore the marketing positions she heard that past interns experienced.

Throughout the summer, Swopes had a variety of jobs, each different than the last. He worked on creating social media posts for the company and conducted research about possible future clients or their competitors. One of his final jobs at the internship was to look over project proposals for their clients. 

“The BOOK program is a great opportunity to showcase your internship experience and your presentation skills. It also gives you the opportunity to share what you learned while gaining deeper knowledge about the company you worked for and how it operates,” Swopes said. 

Swopes is grateful for the BOOK program and all that it has given to him.

“Alumni come to support us and our experiences while also giving us students a chance at cash prizes. I was very thankful for the business staff here at Baker University as they helped encourage me to take this opportunity while helping me prepare along the way,” Swopes said.

Senior Tyler White was awarded the grand prize, receiving $1,700 for his work at Community America Credit Union. White received $1500 for winning the BOOK program and an additional $200 for addressing social responsibility in his presentation. White believed the experience would help decide the type of company environment to look for in a future career.

Over the summer, White worked with three other interns to comb through data from a financial literacy program for high school students in the Kansas City area and reported their findings to upper management. White also assisted the workforce management analyst with making forecasting models in Microsoft Excel.

White started his presentation during his internship and had the chance to ask many CommunityAmerica employees questions about the company and even had the opportunity to talk with the CEO.

Through his experience, White learned to branch out and always ask questions.

“It is a fantastic program, and I truly believe it helped me get more out of my internship than I would have if this program wasn’t around. I really branched out of my day-to-day role and dug into the company as a whole. It also helped me connect with more people at CommunityAmerica and Baker. I would suggest it to everyone that is eligible,” White said.