Improving Students Careers Thought Internship Program

One of the dilemmas that college students contend with is the adjustment of transferring from school into the workforce. Especially if they are aspiring to become professionals in a field that is competitive and/or requires on-the-job experience just to get a foot in the door.

Another part of the dubious equation is choosing the right personal profession in the first place.

But don't despair if you find yourself confronted with these quandaries-the answer might be waiting for you, right around the campus corner at the Santa Monica College Career Services Center.

It is there that students may participate in an internship program that has been built and implemented by Judy White, who is essentially SMC's internship specialist, along with Vicki Rothman, Career Services Center faculty leader and internship "teacher of record."

With their help, students can learn all the steps to becoming internship savvy through one-on-one coaching, internet interfacing, pamphlet perusing and, finally, an e-companion class, the attendance of which makes all those on-the-job hours count for more than just preparatory experience.

What this translates as is a duo dedicated to SMC student's successful completion of internships for college credit, and a welcoming hand in sorting through the ins and outs of putting student's professional interests into action.

"The college is starting to focus more now on student learning outcome, and the internship program is student learning outcome-based; what are you going to do, and how it can be measured," said Rothman. She said that White is excellent at helping students home in on achievable objectives in order to take part in internships for credit.

Rothman teaches the online internship class, but she pointed out that the program has really been White's "baby," and that mainly she is the one who comes in at the end to evaluate student's performances within the internship itself. This allows Rothman to administer pass/no pass status, since the credit available to students for participation in the internship class doesn't give a letter grade.

"I think a lot of people don't realize the value of an internship," said White. "They think, well, I'm just working for free, it's free labor. But it's something they can put on their resume, and it's something they can put on their transfer application, and they have references - people who know about their skills - so it rounds them out in many ways."

White said that she is in a unique position that allows her to ascertain where a student is in the process of career development and direct them to the next step.

This could mean a visit to a career counselor for further exploration in career interests, to Employment Specialist Marcia A. Lewis, for help with resume writing, or to MonsterTrak's internet listing service to begin searching for an ideal internship match.

She describes her work as "very positive" and she stresses the importance of internships as a way for students to decide what they want to do in the future. "It is a way to find out about work, and what they like, and learn about themselves. It gives them direction," she said.

"I'm pretty excited," said SMC student Ajmal Noorzayee, in regard to his current web pursuit of an internship in journalism. He found out about the internship program at a booth at the Career Island job fair.

Noorzayee says that the attention he received from White was informative, and refreshingly immediate "as opposed to the Counseling Center," where he toiled in lines that reminded him of "the DMV."