It’s not common for the average Principia student to visit the basement of the School of Government. For certain juniors and seniors, however, it becomes a more routine activity. Every step toward the Academic and Career Advising (ACA) office is a step closer to finding an internship or securing a post-graduation job.
Completing an internship for academic credit requires an application process. This application consists of questions such as: “Who will be supervising you during your internship?” “What are the list of duties, responsibilities and obligations to the organization?” “What are the Student Learning Outcomes the intern will experience?”
Linda Hannan, ACA’s internship coordinator, and the student’s academic adviser(s) work together to help students fill out the application,
This past spring, senior Jess Bushong secured her mass communication internship through the ACA. She worked as a marketing intern for Park City Television in Utah, where she received a great deal of experience. “I did enjoy working with [ACA]. Linda gave me invaluable help with the entire process, including help with my resume,” Bushong said. “After going in to talk about possibilities for my internship, Linda said that she had received an email from an alum who was … the director of production at Park City Television, and that he was looking for Principia College students to intern over the summer. She supplied me with his contact information, and I applied.”
Bushong is also planning to attend the Career Conference this January. The conference is one of the premier events and workshops the ACA offers each year for students to find full-time jobs after graduating. With all of the help she has received, Bushong feels comfortable going back to the ACA to seek full-time employment outside of college.
Many Principia College graduates have attended the Career Conference, and have had a range of experiences. Alumnus Tommy Heninger, who graduated in 2012, now runs his own branch of Bricks 4 Kidz, a national company that puts on after-school programs and summer camps for young children to teach them creativity and teamwork by working with Legos.
Ideally, Heninger would have liked to work at Nike. He received guidance from the ACA that he was not too thrilled about. “After hearing about all of my friends’ experiences in the ACA, I assumed that they do not help you get a job at all, other than a mock interview and encouraging your LinkedIn profile,” he said. “I was talking to them about getting a job with Nike or with some sort of sports company. They said, you need to find someone on LinkedIn who has a connection with someone who works there and email them.” Although this strategy may work for some, Heninger was hoping for more tangible methods of connecting with Principia alumni at certain companies.
One of the common complaints Principia students make is that, despite the vast alumni network, there is not very direct access to those working at companies they want to work for. “I know for a fact [that alumni] could help Prin students … get jobs,” Heninger said. “I’m three years out of Prin, and I could help students find more jobs than the career office.”
On the other hand, other graduates speak positively about their experiences. Alumnus Emily Mattson, who graduated in 2014, was a sociology and anthropology major, which requires an internship to graduate. “The ACA office was extremely helpful and accommodating during each step of the way, from obtaining my internship through completion,” she said. “I made their job a little bit harder because I chose to work with a small organization in a developing country, but I cannot thank the ACA office [enough], especially Linda Hannan, for being extremely accommodating and understanding in issues with communication and scheduling.” Mattson explained that her internship was with an orphanage organization called Shishur Sevay in Kolkata, West Bengal, India.
The ACA office attempts to make the internship process as smooth as possible. With clearly outlined deadlines and requirements, it seems to be a fairly routine operation. However, many students struggle with meeting the deadlines due to external issues beyond their control.
In some instances, smaller organizations do not have established internship-style programs with set roles and responsibilities. Also, students may not find out if they have been hired by the company until very late into the semester. This can cause internship applications to be considered late, which requires a multitude of extra steps and signatures. “It made no sense because I was swarmed with paperwork that I had to do, so my punishment for not completing paperwork was more paperwork to turn in, which is extremely counterproductive,” said senior Jordan Anderson, who was recently hired to work at a graphic design and marketing firm in Nashville, Tennessee, over winter break.
Student experiences with the internship process and the ACA office runs the gamut, as interviews indicated. For some, the basement office can be an answered prayer; for others, the beginning of a complicated and daunting process.