Internships urged for CLA grads

by Marie McKowen

Every student looks forward to handing in that last paper, giving that last speech or taking that last final. But filling out that first job application can be a whole different story, especially for a liberal arts student.
“Graduating students worry about two things at once,” said University Career Development Center Counselor and Program Director Kevin J. Nutter, Ph.D. “One is making sense of things now, and two is trying to make sense of what comes next.”
Liberal arts students do not specialize in a vocation like other colleges, such as in the nursing program, and therefore must plan how to apply their liberal arts degree to a specialized job, Nutter said. This is not always easy.
“There is a myth out there that a liberal arts student must go beyond a bachelor of arts,” said Nutter. “But after graduate school, you might just hear more of the same. The key is early planning and internship experience.”
To help students plan, the Office for Special Learning Opportunities offers a wide range of workshops, one of them titled, “What Can I Do With A Major In …?,” which is better known as “WCIDWAMI” — pronounced “wicked whammy” — by some CLA upper-division counselors. Besides the workshops, the office has a fully stocked library with information on job options and internship opportunities.
Matt Skally graduated from the University last spring but began planning with the office during his junior year. He found an internship with Allied Interstate the summer after his junior year, which he said helped him get his job at Dayton Hudson Corporation, where he is now an executive supervisor in guest credit.
Skally said he thinks the number one reason for students not pursuing internships is they don’t realize how valuable they are until after they graduate.
“Employers are looking for experience,” Skally said. “Experience is more important than your major or your (grade point average).”
Skally said another reason why students do not get involved with an internship is some companies do not pay their interns. However, many internships do pay and some even give college credit. Some college departments at the University also offer grants to students who have unpaid internships.
Some graduating students might say, “I should have planned earlier. Now I am graduating, and it’s too late.” But Sara Hausvik, who graduated this spring with a bachelor of arts in speech communication, would say differently.
“It’s never too late, because I got my internship two quarters before I will graduate,” she said. “It is important that you have one, even if it is after you graduate.”
Hausvik went to the office last spring because she wasn’t sure what she wanted to do.
“It may seem intimidating to go in on your own, but it wasn’t,” Hausvik said. “I got one-on-one attention.”
Career counselors worked with Hausvik by looking at her interests and finding internship possibilities that directed her towards her internship at Data Recognition Corporation in Minnetonka. This internship proved to be very helpful for Hausvik because the corporation created a full-time position for her after she graduated this spring.
Cindy Whisnant, the coordinator of the Internship Development and Referral Program at the office, reminds students that not all internships turn into jobs.
“There is value in internships that don’t turn into jobs because they are all an opportunity to build skills,” Whisnant said. “They all give students an opportunity to excel in their field.”
Fifty-nine percent of college students working at entry level after graduating have had internship experience according to the 1996 National Association of Colleges and Employees Job Outlook Survey. Out of those 59 percent, 25 percent were hired by the same company.
Amy Gaustad, who graduated from CLA this spring, wrote a pamphlet about the common emotions and stresses of seniors. Gaustad presents hints about networking, resume writing and interviewing in her pamphlet.
About networking, Gaustad said: “Don’t be afraid of this word; it just means ‘to talk.’ Talking to many people about your job quest will bring you more opportunities. Talk to your parents’ friends, professors, co-workers, other students and even people sitting next to you on the bus.”
In her pamphlet, Gaustad also described two major challenges students face during their senior year.
She said the first is finding a real job. The second is maintaining enough sanity to make it across the stage to pick up a diploma.
The resources to succeed at these challenges abound on campus, Whisnant said. The key is making use of them, which will lower the stresses inherent in finding a new job.
Whisnant said new internship opportunities come into the the office every day. Never think it is too late to start, she said.