Internship in higher ed offers opportunities as well as challenges

by Brittany Collins

IMG_0384This summer, I’m interning at the Kathryn F. Hubbard Center for Student Engagement (Hubbard Center) at DePauw University. The Hubbard Center provides applied learning opportunities and resources to students through off-campus study programs, career services and assistance with prestigious fellowships and awards applications. This is a unique blend of services that isn’t typically found at colleges and universities, which is exactly why I sought out this position. Based on advice from current professionals, it adds novelty to my resume, and it shows my versatility by working full-time at a liberal arts institution.

I could have chosen positions at IUB and IUPUI this summer, but I’m glad I decided to branch out and broaden my network. As soon as I got settled in at the Hubbard Center, I looked at all the staff directories and started making a list of people to interview (After all, I am a J-School alumna.). These meetings were great opportunities to learn more about the campus, current trends/issues in my profession and ways that I can set myself apart before graduation. I start my job search in less than six months, and it’s already comforting to know I have multiple pools of contacts for job leads.

Also during my internship, I’ve had the pleasure of working on different projects that have allowed me to increase my program development, research, written communication, time management and graIMG_0386phic design skills.  I wrote planning documents, email communications, newsletters, program evaluations and much more. I also had the opportunity to pitch layout ideas and provide edits/critiques for the new resource guides here at the Hubbard Center, which was completely new and fun for me (I’m a creative at heart).

All in all, my two months here at DePauw have been a pretty awesome experience. Here are a few of my parting tips about internships:

  • Create a project progress document! I started this when I interned at Learn More Indiana last summer, and it is a god-send. You really can do a lot over the course of the summer, and keeping this document ensures you won’t forget anything for your resume.
  • Absorb information. Someone forwards you an article? Read it. You’re invited to an optional meeting/workshop? Go. This is your opportunity to learn as much as you can without worrying about being quizzed on it later. It also shows supervisors your ambition.
  • Test out your brand. You’re in a new place, no one knows you, so this is the perfect opportunity for a brand check. Get feedback from your colleagues and supervisors so you can gauge whIMG_0394at your putting out there and make adjustments as necessary.
  • Explore your new environment. Don’t stay cooped up in your cubicle! Visit other offices. Eat at local restaurants.
    Have your informational interviewee pick one of their favorite nearby locations (use your judgement).
  • If you’re bored, say it! Just like a class, this is suppose to be a learning opportunity, so if you don’t have enough to do talk it over with your supervisor. See if there are other projects going on you can assist with. Propose a new project if you recognize a need for it. Maximize your experience, so that you get out of it the skills and knowledge you need.
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