From the moment most freshmen in the United States come home for their first Thanksgiving, the topic of every conversation seems to be internships. Searching for the be-all, end-all résumé builder can be a daunting process.
What many Knox students don’t know, however, is how much assistance they have access to simply by virtue of being here. Whether it’s a self-motivated search aided by professors or building a relationship with the Bastian Family Career Center, finding the right opportunity is much more possible than it might seem.
Senior Charlie Harned spent the winter and spring terms of his junior year working as an intern at the White House. “It was empowering, it was inspiring,” he said of a documentary about Senator Corey Booker, which served as the catalyst to his search for a Washington, D.C. internship opportunity. Harned worked closely with several of his professors, pouring what he estimated to be more than forty hours into the application, a proposal required by the specific position, and requesting letters of recommendation.
“The toughest thing about the process was putting my heart and soul into the application,” he said, acknowledging the fear he might fail. “[I had to remember] everything was gonna be alright if I didn’t get it.”
Career Center Director Terrie Saline and Assistant Director Krista Nelson echoed Harned’s assertions that a lot of work needs to go into the process of finding the right position, but also mentioned the unique advantages of Knox students in the job search. “You learn so many skills here at Knox, it’s a liberal arts education, and it’s our job to help you be able to speak about that,” Nelson said.
Saline also encouraged keeping an open mind. “A lot of internships turn into full-time jobs, or one internship leads into a different internship in a different area that maybe you hadn’t realized you have an interest in,” she said.
Both Saline and Nelson emphasized the importance of students knowing themselves. “I would say, really, finding your passion [is the most important],” Nelson said. Though many students are often subjected to the notion that young adults should be chasing opportunities in so-called “lucrative” fields, Knox’s Career Center helps students search for positions which complement their passions and talents. “Following your passion is going to make you happier in the end,” Saline said.
Though the experience is extremely valuable, Saline and Nelson also said that having an internship is not strictly the most important part of preparing for a post-graduation career. Working in the bookstore down the block from your parents’ house or at your neighborhood Target can be just as crucial. “It’s not just part-time jobs, it could be doing research or it could be a study abroad experience, you’re still getting experience and you’re still learning and preparing for your career,” Nelson said. The accumulation of what Saline calls “soft skills that are transferable into any job” is what makes all the difference.
The Career Center’s duties don’t stop at just advice. Students looking at unpaid internships can apply for funding through the Career Center’s website to help with travel and living expenses. As of week two of this fall term, notice of over forty positions had been sent out via email to the student body, with more coming out each week. Both Nelson and Saline often sit down with students to fine-tune their résumés and assess their aptitudes and career aspirations.
“We always try to encourage students, even if they’re freshmen, to come in, meet with us, get to know us. The more we know students the better we can help them try to find opportunities,” Nelson said.
Whether it’s asking your advisor who they know in a field you’re interested in or working an on-campus job, any experience is the best experience to take into the professional world. But for help with résumés and finding the perfect internship opportunity, the Career Center’s doors are open to students who are willing to discover their passions and the ways their passions can translate into jobs.