Career, Co-Op and Internship Services Offers Many Paths for Students and Alumni

Jesse Roberts standing in the computer center.

Even though Jesse Roberts graduated earlier this year, he can still occasionally be found on the Middletown campus seeking the counsel of Krissy Smith at the Career, Co-op & Internship Services office.

"I have an interview tomorrow, and Krissy has been helping me with a mock interview," he said one recent afternoon. "She's gone over the possibilities of all the different questions they can ask, and she's given me a nice portfolio, gave me advice on the attire."

As he approached graduation, Jesse said that he felt some apprehension about finding a full-time job even though the prospects are pretty good for people in his field of computer networking, so he went to the Career, Co-op & Internship Services office.

"I emailed Krissy and asked her if we could set up a time to work on my resume," he said. "She is a super-nice lady and has plenty of information about everything and can give you everything you need to get you going."

"She just takes time out of her day to help me, even though I'm technically not a student anymore."

Debi Ellenberg turned to Career, Co-Op & Internship Services to help her focus her career path. Five years ago, she left her job as a medical assistant in a family practice to apply to the MUM nursing program. When that didn't work out, she enrolled as an Integrative Studies major with a primary concentration in healthcare administration and secondary in personal and community health perspectives.

"My philosophy is to roll with it rather than fight it," she said. After getting on campus, she took a job as an orientation leader, which led to her getting involved in student government and a job at the campus information desk, where she has gotten to meet a lot of people.

Debi Ellenburg standing at the Information Desk.

"I think that everything I'm learning here is making me a strong leader," Debi said, "but not giving me any hands-on experience with the kinds of things I'll be doing when I get my degree, so I wanted to know what to expect."

When she discovered that hospital internships are hard to come by, she "rolled with it" again and took an internship with the Liberty Retirement Center, and has discovered an aspect to the health care industry that she hadn't considered before, but now feels like her future lies in assisting people with end-of-life care.

Although the Career, Co-op & Internship Services office has long been a fixture at Miami Regionals, its importance grows as the campuses increase the number of degree programs offered, and Krissy Smith has been charged with finding out just how the office fits in with the evolving mission.

"In the past," she explained, "students used the regional campuses as a stepping stone and would end up in Oxford where they have a really large career services office and we were only helping associate degree students, or students who were here and not sure where they were going, and the number of students needing our services wasn't as big."

Now, nearly every student on the regional campuses is in need of career counseling, and a big part of that is to help them gain the proper tools for a job search after graduation: helping them with their resumes, finding places to send them, working on their interviewing skills, showing them how to network.

Krissy has also been increasing the number of internships, acting as a liaison between students and potential employers. More than resume-builders and free labor, she wants internships to be a genuine gateway to a career.

"We believe that getting paid is important because an investment is being made," she said. "When you are paid and there's a full job description, there's a real investment being made because real work and real projects are given to you, the student is going to better meet the employer's expectations, and that's a real win-win."

If a company has not participated in an internship program, many times they aren't sure how an intern can help them, so Krissy works with them to understand what their needs are, how they can help a student, and what skills are required for the kind of work that is going to be performed."

"I try to get a job description from the employer, something that is going to say what they are looking for," she said. "Quite often, they're really interested in sharing and teaching.

"Sometimes the benefit for the student is just to get their feet wet, to see what a professional life is like, to understand the culture of that industry and that may help point you in the direction you want to go or to help you look another way," she said.

Krissy encourages students to come to her office early in their education, not just when they approach graduation, to make sure that the career they are pursuing is really in their best interest. An internship can help them discover the culture of an industry, the kind of people they'll be working with, whether the job is independent work or team work.

"If you don't start asking yourself those questions and exploring whether you're good in those areas, it could be a rude awakening," she said.