After ten years of the post-baccalaureate fellowship program at Knox, the program is making a few big changes to make the positions operate more like internships.
Post-baccs are those who have already graduated and feel that they could benefit from another year on the campus to work on a project as well as take more courses that they may not have gotten to take while they were attending full-time. This usually gives them more experience for the working world, and more credits to put on their resume before they enter the workforce.
This year, Dean Laura Behling sat down with different post-baccs and they decided together that the program needed to be changed to fully optimize its potential. One of the biggest changes they made was offering another option in addition to the self-designed programs.
Under the new post-bacc program, there are seventeen sponsor-designed programs that operate more like internships than anything else, with a list of responsibilities and an end-goal for the project. The programs were written and designed by different faculty and staff members from a variety of departments, including English, Art, Theatre, Computer Science and Psychology. All graduating seniors were e-mailed a list of these programs and information on the application process last week.
“One of the things that we’ve learned over the years about the post-baccs is that when a fellow has a more structured experience, like an internship would be, they seem to enjoy it more, have a better experience, have better experiences of skills, pick up those kinds of things, when they feel like they know what they’re doing, more like a job,” said Behling.
Some of the post-bacc programs that professors have designed are an Art Collection Internship, Administrative Assistant to the Music Department, Public History Project Assistant, and Manager of Red Room. These all operate more like internships and offer more work experience than a usual research project.
One program is seeking a student to be the director of the 50th Anniversary of the Creative Writing department, which will feature a reading series. The English department will be bringing numerous writers to campus, and they will need help organizing, promoting and running these readings.
Associate Professor of English Monica Berlin said that the department usually brings one post-bacc to the English department to work as their events coordinator. Even before the sponsor-designed programs, they would offer the position to a current senior.
“So the idea is to help students build a practical skillset in addition to serving as a complement to their studies here. Oftentimes students are already doing what employers want, but students don’t always know how to clearly frame their experiences in terms that future employers are interested in,” Berlin said.
Similarly, post-bacc Oakton Reynolds ‘15 was offered the job of organizing and producing the New Plays Festival for 2016. Even before the sponsor-designed programs were put into place, professors knew some things that they needed post-baccs to do for them. These programs seemed to work the best, since there was a clear-cut structure for both the supervisor and post-bacc. Reynolds is also helping Professor of Theatre Neil Blackadder create an online database of translated plays.
On the change to add more structure, Reynolds said, “It’s a really good idea. The post-bacc program has a lot of potential, but I have felt that people don’t always follow through with their projects. They have these grand ideas but they don’t really know how to make them come to life.”
With more structure, post-baccs typically have an easier time seeing their projects through, and have a clearer goal for the time that they spend at Knox. Instead of spending time trying to get themselves organized, and trying to make a plan of action as they go, they are now more prepared from the beginning.
For the upcoming year, students are still invited to design their own programs and submit them, in addition to the sponsor-designed programs.
Reynolds says that after doing his post-bacc program, he feels much more prepared to go out into the working world. To get a managing producer credit while still at Knox is very important to him, and definitely improves his rsum. The sponsor-designed programs can help other people have similar, positive experiences.
“I think this is a very solid option,” Reynolds said. “It has a reputation as being people’s Plan C because they didn’t get the job they wanted, didn’t get into grad school, so they just stay here. I don’t think that’s quite fair. The same thing can be said about anyone’s life path over Knox. I think this new plan will make it more legitimate.”