By Rachel Thomas '14
This summer, 52 Hendrix students are completing internships through the Office of Career Services in places as close to campus as the Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre at the University of Central Arkansas and as far away as Discovery Clothing in Australia.
Career Services helped these students prepare for their internships with seminars on résumé writing and professional behavior, and by requiring each student to work with a faculty supervisor, whether or not they were pursuing academic credit or the pre-approved Odyssey credit for their internship.
Leigh Lassiter-Counts '01, associate director and internship coordinator for Career Services, explained that Hendrix's focus on the academic as well as the professional aspects of an internship set the college's program apart from some others.
"They get some professional training on everything from what to wear, how to act, how to talk to your boss, and then they also get to do the Meyers-Briggs assessment," she said. "So there's a lot of nurturing that goes on at the Hendrix end. We don't just throw them out to the wolves; we provide some professional services and some academic services. Every internship experience, regardless of whether or not they're getting academic credit, has an academic aspect."
"Though the concept of interning is not unique, we think our official Hendrix Internship Program is," a Career Services statement on internships reads. "With input from faculty and staff across campus, our office was able to design an official program that truly supports the Odyssey Program and its philosophy of engaged, experiential learning. Through the program, students are able to acquire direct, practical work experience while getting the opportunity to put classroom learning to use in a real-world setting."
Hendrix interns are expected to do more than fetch coffee and make copies.
Internships should give students a look into a career field they might be planning to pursue and should serve as "a reality check," a chance for students to decide to continue on their present path or try something new, Lassiter-Counts explained.
After their internship is completed, students are given access to an evaluation of their work provided by the supervisor at their internship site.
"I think that's a very nice part," Lassiter-Counts said. "It either helps you gain momentum and keep feeling good about the path, or it helps you see something in yourself that maybe you didn't see before. Or it sometimes can help people see that maybe this isn't the best thing, maybe I have a lot of passion for it but I'm not very good at it."
Internships are also a great chance to learn how to network and to make connections that will help students after they graduate.
"It really is important for students to learn how to network professionally, and also to keep in contact with those people they did internships with and keep the lines of communications open," she said. "Even if there's no room for a job at the place where they did an internship, those people have multiple connections in that sector."
Students can find help from Career Services while at Hendrix, whether they've decided on a path or not.
Christy Coker, director of career services, explained that the office provides a variety of services, from mock interview practice for students who might be nervous about speaking about themselves, to resume-building and practice testing for the MCAT and other graduate tests.
Career Services also provides a variety of tests to help students identify possible career paths, including the Strong Interest Inventory and the Meyers-Briggs assessment.
"The cool thing about the assessments is we also connect them with alumni or people in their field, so they can ask real life questions about the job or career that they're interested in," Coker said.
Hendrix alumni are a great resource for current Hendrix students. Through programs like ASK (Alumni Sharing Knowledge) and FACT (Friday Alumni Connection Time), students on campus can talk to alumni in career fields they're interested in. FACT sessions are in-person and one-on-one, allowing students a chance to have in-depth conversations with successful alumni.
Hendrix students also intern with Hendrix alumni. This summer, four Hendrix students are interning with alumni in the fields of psychiatry, fundraising, and broadcast news.
"When I talk about it being a development office, we are not a 'come in and we'll get you a job' office. We're not going to go out and get a job for you. We will give you the resources and tools you need to go job-seeking or graduate school-seeking, even gap-year seeking," Coker said. "We do it this way because we're not going to be there the whole time, and those are skills you'll need for a lifetime. So it's very important to us that you have access to that knowledge and can apply those skills."
"My favorite thing on this job is watching the face of a student when all of a sudden they connect with their passion. Because they hear the word passion constantly, but if you haven't felt it you can't understand what people mean. So finally we're sitting in here and assessments have been completed and discussions have occurred and you just get to that moment, and you see it in their eyes, and you know you've made a difference in someone's life. You've altered or changed the direction that he or she is headed," Coker said.
"Very few people leave here not connecting," she added. "Sometimes it takes longer for some than others. Sometimes we listen to everyone around us rather than ourselves. But we give you the tools and the knowledge to listen to yourself and put yourself first when it comes to the rest of your life. Because if you're not happy it doesn't matter what else you do right, you're still not happy."
For more information on the wide variety of services provided by the Career Services Office, visit their webpage. Also, get to know the complete Career Services staff. For information on Hendrix students currently doing internships, read these Q&A's with Kathryn Powell and Rose Dubiskas.
Rachel Thomas '14 is an English studies major from Fayetteville, Ark.
Founded in 1876, Hendrix College is a national leader in engaged liberal arts and sciences education. Hendrix was named the country's #1 "Up and Coming" liberal arts college for the third consecutive year by U.S. News and World Report. Hendrix is featured in the 2011 edition of the Princeton Review as one of the country's best 376 colleges and is listed in the 2012 edition of the Fiske Guide to Colleges as one of 25 "Best Buy" private colleges included. Hendrix has been affiliated with the United Methodist Church since 1884. For more information, visit www.hendrix.edu.