by Brittany Worthington
Though most students are primarily concerned with surviving winter quarter, some are also looking ahead to summer opportunities through Kalamazoo’s Field Experience and Discovery Externship programs. The opportunities for Summer 2011 went live on the Center of Career and Professional Development’s website January 14, but new programs have recently been added.
According to Terri Raich and Pam Sotherland, who help oversee these programs, the CCPD is always excited about the opportunities they retain from year to year, but there is extra enthusiasm when new sponsors are recruited. Notable this year is the inclusion of internships through the Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership.
Internships and externships each have their own set of unique benefits. Externships are described as extended job shadows where students live with K alumni sponsors for 1-4 weeks. This time allows students to further personal and professional skills while networking with alumni and their colleagues, according to the CCPD. Pam Sotherland, who leads the Discovery Externship program, discussed the advantages of the experience. She said students enjoy the ability to “talk to someone who went to K and is further along in their career.” It may be a “short amount of time, but living with alum is a unique experience. It gives them exposure to the profession, especially if it they don’t really know if it’s something they want to do,” she said.
The Field Experience program entails an internship supported by the staff of the CCPD lasting at least six weeks. This includes K, Community-Based, Arcus Center, and Independent internships. These internships have been cited as a valuable and vital component of the K-Plan, allowing students to develop relationships with professionals and gain real world experience. Students are expected to journal about their experience and undergo evaluations and feedback from the career counselors. Terri Raich said that the journaling process allows them “to explain not what they’re doing, but what they’re learning from what they’re doing.” Even though students may be intimidated by these requirements, according to Raich, “when all is said and done, they enjoy reflecting on their experience and the feedback they get from the career counselors.”
Students are free to seek their own internships—outside the ones listed on the CCPD website—as part of the Field Experience program. This would offer the student an opportunity to receive transcript notation as well as grant funding for their program.
The CCPD said that it hopes that students will continue checking the website for updates, but strongly encourages them to come to the office in person. Not only is the staff open to helping students with cover letters and resumes, but they are available to provide direction and resource assistance. Pam Sotherland credited the “underlying sense of support through the people providing the opportunities as well as the staff [in the CCPD].”