Oberlin Alumni Magazine Spring 2001 vol.96 no.4
Feature Stories
Planet Earth
High Atop Wilder
[cover story] Creating a Scene
You've Got Mail: Now What?
Experience, Exposure & Enlightenment
Body Art
Message from the Board of Trustees
Around Tappan Square
Oberlin Partnership sharpens Economic Development
Composing a Career
President Dye's Sabbatical
Closing Institutional Devides
In Brief
Alumni Notes: Profile
Alumni Notes: Losses
The Last Word
Staff Box
One More Thing

Experience, Exposure, & Enlightenment... continued
Student interns have a capital good time with D.C. alums

by Alex Parker '04

photos by Scott Suchman

A typical day would have Kimberly Clarke '01 performing behind-the-scenes grunt work--researching, interviewing, preparing--in the civil-rights law firm of Gordon, Silberman, Wiggins & Childs. But this day was different. The firm was mounting a class-action race discrimination suit against Amtrak, which, they alleged, was withholding promotions from African-American employees and disciplining them more harshly than other workers.

The hearing was similar to other law procedures in which Clarke was involved. "You read some of these cases and you know the company is at fault," she says. "You think, 'This is still happening, in this day, in 2001?'" The judge denied Amtrak's motion to dismiss the case, which prompted brief applause from some spectators. Legal details occupied the rest of the hearing; the judge would announce his decision about other Amtrak complaints later.

"This experience made me thirsty for more types of internships," says Clarke, who conducted 67 telephone interviews with plaintiffs. She was attracted by the civil-rights aspect of her job, as well as the legal experience. "I don't know if I want to practice law, but I definitely want to go to law school. I had lawyers and second- and third-year law students helping me with my applications." Among them was Nicole Joseph '99, who sponsored the position. "We need interns here, so we might as well get the best--and that would be Oberlin students," she says.

Far from the government milieu, Paul Chaikin '02 worked with a small, one-man audio postproduction business aptly called Kennedy Sound which bore eerie similarities to the D.C. political world. "I work with fantasy," says intern sponsor Kennedy Wright '86. "It's all fake."

Wright's tiny basement studio holds a computer system, recording and synthesizing equipment, and walls designed to absorb sound acoustically; a collapsible recording booth is stationed in his garage. Chaikin, a double-degree student majoring in Spanish and technology in music and related arts, picked up on the complexity of audio postproduction and worked on his own project, a re-edit of a PBS promo.

What was a typical day like?" he asks. "When Kennedy had a client, I watched him in action mixing sound for a commercial. When he didn't have a client, he gave me lessons on anything I wanted to learn about sound design."

Wright works primarily with television spots and promos and some independent movies. With the size of modern-day sets and the equipment needed, he says, background noises almost invariably end up on the original soundtrack. Postproduction, he explained, involves isolating different

sound elements, such as dialogue, music, "hard" effects (relating to action that is visible), and "soft" effects (background noises). Most of the time, these effects are from sound libraries or are recorded afterward.

"You'd be surprised what is purported to be real, but is not," says Wright, who ensures that sound--often synthesized in a sound booth--works so fluidly with the visuals that the viewer never questions its authenticity.

"The internship turned me on to sound design," says Chaikin. "In the musical world, that's where the money is--production and postproduction."

For three weeks, I followed the journalist's path,covering events, conducting interviews, and flashing my congressional press pass. Early on, Doyle advised me of the wisdom of beginning a journalism career outside of D.C., to first build strong reporter skills before becoming immersed in politics. Washington is its own dimension and requires outside perspective, he says. My experience there supports his case.

The House Republicans were stalling, so Doyle called his office. While he was in the phone booth, Rep. Peter King, the unmistakable New York congressman, walked past me and into the next booth. King achieved some prominence during Bill Clinton's impeachment and the presidential primaries; I found it odd that he would be using the phone booth meant for reporters. King finished his call and walked back to the meeting. I mentioned my sighting to Doyle, and he shrugged.

Still, I was a bit surprised. Being close to renowned politicians is old hat to a Washington journalist, but it's quite extraordinary for a college freshman who grew up in celebrity-free Indianapolis. But by the end of the day, I had scored sightings of numerous Republican notables. John Hostettler, a representative from my state, even served me Lithuanian wedding cake.

By the end of my internship, I had searched for a California mayor inside the White House, attended a Supreme Court oral argument, helped interview congressmen in the basement of the Capitol, interviewed N.O.W. president Patricia Ireland in the heat of an inaugural protest, and wandered all over Washington. I left with some great stories and an experience that changed my perception of our government. From afar, politics seems like a quagmire of bickering and behind-the-scenes maneuvering. Watching up close, I realized that politicians were just people who had, for one reason or another, dedicated themselves to public life.


If an Oberlin student would benefit from a winter term internship at your place of employment, the Office of Career Services can help make the match. Kimberly Betz, Oberlin's Longman Director of Internships, will clarify the internship, link the project to an academic department and faculty sponsor, and promote it to students. Alumni sponsors handle student interviews and selection.

"These internships are competitive, so students are expected to apply with a resume and any other materials alumni require," she says. "Housing, too, plays a considerable role in the ability for students to work out of town. We try hard to make these opportunities accessible for everyone, so if alums are willing to house a student, or know of other options, please let us know."

Internship proposals for winter term 2002 should be submitted to the Office of Career Services by October 10, 2001. For details, contact Betz at kimberly.betz@oberlin.edu, 440.775.8140, or at the Office of Career Services, Oberlin College, 155 N. Professor Street, Stevenson Hall, Oberlin, OH 44074.

If offering a summer internship, or even a full-time job, for a student is more convenient, Career Services may want to post the opportunity on eRecruiting or InternCenter, web-based services tailored for current students and recent graduates. If your job opening requires alumni with more experience, add it to the On-Line Community's Career Services Center's Job Posting site.

Oberlin Can Help You

ARE YOU JOB HUNTING? RELOCATING? CHANGING CAREERS COMPLETELY? The Office of Career Services stays with you throughout your career. Via phone or in-person sessions, advisors can provide resume consultation, job-search strategies, interview preparation, and salary-negotiation tips. Mid-career alums may benefit from career management or transition assistance offered by Drake Bean Morin Alumni Career Services (DBM), now partnered with the College. Many online services are free, but there is a fee for consultation and assessment. To enroll, call 800.863.8684, or connect to www.dbmalumniservices.com and click on "new user."

Job-searching alums can post resumes and search job openings at the On-Line Community's Career Services section. If it's references you need managed, create a reference file with Career Services, which retains documents for ten years and mails letters of reference with your written request.
For more information on these services, call the Office of Career Services at 440.775.8140.

More ways to help students...

IF INTERNSHIPS AREN'T YOUR THING, don't assume that career-seeking students can't benefit from you in other ways, says director of Career Services Wendy Miller. OCS is eager for more alumni participation, particularly in forming mentoring relationships with students. A June 2000 survey of 1979 and 1989 Oberlin grads reveals that just 2 percent of respondents had participated in a mentoring activity at Oberlin within the past five years. Clearly, there is room for improvement, and the College is responding.

"Oberlin's alumni database is available online to alumni and to students who are coached in the proper use of the data, so many unsuspecting but generous alumni have received calls from students or other alumni who are trying to figure out what their next move should be," Miller says.

But more convenient is the Oberlin On-Line Community's expanding Career Center Services section, in which alumni can list themselves as mentors for advice-seeking students or other alumni. "Mentoring can mean whatever you want it to: a one-time phone conversation, an ongoing supportive relationship, being shadowed for a day, or looking over a resume or publication," Miller says. "Typically, it means simply giving advice and information about your career field or geographic area."

Just 15 to 20 minutes of conversation can offer much-needed encouragement and useful information for students seeking to clarify their career direction. Senior Elizabeth Posniak '01 contacted alumnus Josh Feit '88 for an informational interview about his career with The Stranger, an alternative newspaper in Seattle. "I love to talk about alternative journalism," says Feit, who ultimately offered Posniak a winter-term internship.

Senior Melissa Ray '01 phoned Timothy Ditlow '78, a publisher with the Listening Library, a division of Random House, who offered insight into the New York publishing world and an invitation to visit. Alumnus Kennedy Wright '86 and his wife, Nicki Belfiore '86, provided housing for intern Paul Chaikin '02. Alumni in the fields of law, consulting, research, medicine, social work, theater, teaching, advertising, and engineering have also been on hand to dispense advice.
Aiding in the career-search effort is the Alumni Council's newly formed Career Services Advisory Committee, which with its four student liaisons, plans annual events on campus and regional programs to connect alumni with students and other graduates.
To register with the On-Line Community, visit www.oberlin.edu/alumassc/OLC.html, using your personal ID number on the mailing label of this magazine. Alumni can also contact alumni.office@oberlin.edu.

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