Harrison Smith
Harrison Smith, 2022 B.S.B.A. degree in accounting from UAH College of Business.
Courtesy Thomas Coffman

The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH), a part of The University of Alabama System, has a long history and well-earned reputation for providing a wealth of internship opportunities for its students with local government and industry partners.

Harrison Smith, set to graduate this fall, has truly taken this educational strategy to the next level, working a total of eight internships over his college career to power his way to a B.S.B.A. degree in accounting from the UAH College of Business, while gaining priceless real-world experience to boot.

“I have been working an internship in some capacity since June of 2020,” he says. “It has been a journey of full credit loads and part-time work, to 80-hour weeks and no classes. It certainly is not easy. But I think adding the structure of having numerous responsibilities makes certain aspects of life easier. Most of my managers have been very supportive in allowing me to explore projects outside of the strict definition of our function, which has enabled me to develop many different skills. This has prepared me to face any type of environment when transitioning to a strictly fulltime position.”

In addition to his current Program Control, SubK internship at Torch Technologies this semester, the intern roles Smith has taken on over his college career include Business Development for A&A Corp.; Contracts with Boeing; Program Control, Labor with Torch Technologies; Profitability Consulting with Carr, Riggs & Ingram; Accounting for Lockheed Martin; Product Cost Engineer with Meta and an Audit internship with Doeren Mayhew.

Smith reports his path to his chosen career field has been “far from straightforward. I entered UAH as a mechanical engineering major along with being declared as premed. My thought process was I wanted to be involved in some capacity with the development of medical and surgical robotic systems. I eventually concluded that I did not want to tackle additional masters, Ph.D. and/or M.D. needed to get to the point that I wanted with that goal. With that in mind, I switched to accounting, as it would allow me to be in the best position to explore numerous finance and strategy functions across professional services and corporate internships.”

In the midst of negotiating the challenges wrought by COVID-19, there were times where the graduate relied on intuition and instincts to move forward past potential pitfalls and obstacles.

“We were pushed to online classes in the middle of my sophomore year,” he says. “Additionally, the switch from engineering to accounting was a massive leap of faith with many people around me questioning why I would do that. For me, I just go with my gut, and if the data doesn’t say that’s the worst possible decision, things generally work out. At the end of the day, obstacles are just temporary roadblocks, and as long as you put in the effort they can be tackled.”

When asked about the difficulties of both working and going to school, Smith calls his journey “Exhausting, but also very rewarding! I had to get a handle on time management and planning to be able to continue to excel in both areas. Overall, though, I would do it again, as the experience and opportunities have compounded into better and more interesting opportunities each summer!”

As of this moment, Smith says his future plans after graduation are fluid, but he’s looking forward to what comes next with excitement. “My goal would be to join an innovative company in a strategy role where I can help shape what the next chapter of that company looks like and how they will grow into that vision.”

Wherever that might be, he is thankful for the ways UAH has helped position his career for success.

“UAH is very much a pick your own path place,” Smith says. “There are numerous opportunities and endless paths that people can take. The College of Business is an amazing place that at every turn works to make the student experience better and further expand opportunities to us. I’m glad that I have approached every opportunity with the thought of how can I develop additional skills, even if sometimes that will mean doing something in a slightly more difficult way.”



Drew Yarbrough

Russ Nelson