Steering Students toward Their Future
Director of Internships Helps Students Bulk Up Their Employment
by Anne C. Paine
an undergraduate German major at Carleton College, Kimberly Betz
rarely set foot in the career center. The very idea of going there
brought butterflies to her stomach.
it's easy for Betz to identify with the nervous students who hesitantly
venture into Oberlin's Office of Career Services.
Gabriel Graff '04
dealing with the 'what-happens-next' question, and it's scary. All
along so far, they've known what comes next. Maybe they had to think
about which college, but they knew they'd go to college. Now they
don't know what's next," said Betz.
Oberlin's director of internships, Betz focuses daily on the key
to making that transition to the unknown future easier and more
effective. Internships, she said, let students try out different
career fields, apply what they've learned to the "real world,"
make professional contacts, and gain essential work experience.
her two years at Oberlin, Betz has established a strong program
of winter-term internships. This past January, 54 students completed
internships in an amazing variety of fields. Among the standouts:
Fox Movietone News, a history student fulfilled requests for historical
film clips from the archives
- writing internships were completed at National Geographic Traveler
and Reuters Health Information web site
- at Food and Wine Magazine, a student completed a photography
- student working at the Davidson Library Special Collections selected
samples of music from wax-cylinder recordings and digitized them
for use on a web site
of the winter-term internships our students get are through alumni,
which is wonderful because our alumni go out of their way to make
sure students have a good experience. Our students are not just
doing busywork," Betz said.
Oberlin students -roughly 50 percent, by Betz's estimate - also
complete summer internships. Students have access to information
about 20,000 internships nationwide through a specialized database
that Oberlin helped to create with several other similar institutions.
Oberlin, internships are more than jobs - they're structured academic
experiences for which, starting this summer, students can earn academic
credit. When an internship is offered, Betz first identifies a faculty
sponsor. In conjunction with that sponsor, the student must establish
learning goals, and at the conclusion of the internship, the student
must prepare a final project.
fields have long expected entry-level job applicants to have related
work experience, and that expectation is becoming more widespread,
experience is so helpful in every field," Betz said. "The
fact of the matter is that students everywhere are doing internships.
If you come in with no experience on your resume, you're at an immediate
benefit of internships is that they can lead to permanent employment.
"We have good students - they work hard and do a good job.
Employers would rather go with someone they know," Betz said.
how did that German major end up at Oberlin, helping students confidently
tackle their futures?
graduated, began working toward a Ph.D. in German, and realized
that she enjoyed teaching undergraduates and being in an academic
environment far more than she enjoyed doing research.
working at a computer business gave her time to regroup, and when
a position in Carleton's career center opened, she applied and got
Carleton, she worked with employers and seniors. Her position at
Oberlin brings her even closer to the things she enjoys, she said.
like working with internships because there's an academic focus
to them. I get to work with faculty members and with students as
students, rather than as job seekers," she said.
She tells her own employment tale to calm those worried students
with whom she works now, but she doesn't want them to become too
help students sort out the career options available to them. They
need to think about internships early - the earlier the better!"
she said. ATS