By Suni Jo Roberts
Getting an internship while in school can set students apart from other applicants when they are ready to apply for jobs in their field of study. Barbara Hauswirth, experiential learning coordinator at WCC, said along with giving students real world experience on different employers and organizations, internships can also help students connect their school work to real world experiences, which can improve their studies.
“The other reason that I suggest students do this early is for academic reasons,” said Hauswirth. “What we see routinely, and I just started to notice this when students would come back to me and say ‘I just feel like after I did my internship things just started clicking more in my program studies.’”
Hauswirth works with students within career services at WCC to connect them with experiences outside of the classroom. Experiences that she connects students with can include co-ops, job shadowing, volunteer opportunities and internships.
Students who are interested in experiences like this are encouraged to make an appointment with career services. From there, Hauswirth meets with students to explore their skill set and what organizations might be a good fit for them.
She encourages students to come to career services as early as their first semester at WCC because she says it’s never too early to learn about real world applications of academic study.
“You may or may not have the skills necessary to get all the internships that employers are offering out there; some have more stringent requirements in terms of how many classes you have to take, how far along in your program you have to have,” said Hauswirth. “But, there are many opportunities that even first semester students pass by because they feel like they are not ready or qualified yet for internships and there are many students who are taking advantage of internships really early on.”
When students meet with Hauswirth, they get the chance to explain their career interests, but also to prove they have grown from past mistakes, which when those mistakes are a criminal record can limit students in the job market and getting internships.
Cole Burgess was one such student that met with Hauswirth. Burgess is a student at WCC taking prerequisite courses at WCC to eventually transfer to a four-year institution and major in business management, information technology and minor in psychology.
He explained that he was able to use all the work he has done at WCC in order to prove that he is a different person from the time when he was seventeen and convicted of a felony.
“Barbara had faith in me and put herself out there for me because I showed consistency and integrity to prove my past wrong,” said Burgess.
Burgess’s proven record at WCC include: being a high honors student, a divisional scholarship recipient and a Phi Theta Kappa member.
With Burgess’s lifelong involvement with snowboarding and recent classes in business management, Hauswirth and Burgess looked into Vail resorts at Mt. Brighton as a possible internship placement, and Mt. Brighton agreed.
Burgess was offered a paid internship with Vail resorts at Mt. Brighton as a Guest Services Management Intern. He said it helped him refine and reinforce his career goals.
“For me, because I had the snowsports background, it solidified my vision of being somewhere in that industry, in the mountains,” said Burgess. “It also made me realize that, first of all, I need to work a lot harder. Even though I already work very hard you have to take the extra step to be better than your fellow employee in order to advance.”
Burgess internship has paid off and he is planning to transfer in the fall of 2017. He has been accepted to the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and Flint, Columbia University in New York and The University of Pennsylvania. Burgess also sees Vail resorts in his future.
“I want to be an executive for Vail resorts after this experience because everything that I knew about it was true and everything I loved about it was true, but also I learned a lot of the things I need to do in order to reach that,” said Burgess.
Students can reach career services at 734-677-5155 or email at email@example.com