Alumni and Student Success Stories
Sophia Schuster ’12 Environmental Studies and Political Science
I was sitting in Dr. Osgood’s “Latin American Environmental Issues” class when a representative from the School for Field studies came in to discuss some of its programs. She went through slide after slide, displaying beautiful pictures from around the world—Kenya, Turks and Caicos, Australia, and Bhutan. Wait, Bhutan? What on earth is a Bhutan? I prided myself on being a well-rounded, culturally aware young woman, and I had never heard of this place. And the images reaching out from her slides were as if from an oriental dream. I was engrossed immediately and spent the duration of the next week investigating Bhutan. If you look it up, you find that it is the last standing Buddhist empire in the entire world whose government measured the country’s success on GNH, or Gross National Happiness, as opposed to the common, Western valuation of Gross Domestic Product. It uses the Bhutanese ngultrum and the people speak Dzongkha.
Six months later, I found myself on a plane with 16 other students, none of whom came from Albright or Pennsylvania for that matter. Kuzu zangpo (that means “hello”), Bhutan! While I had participated in travel programs and research projects, and gone abroad with my parents as well, this was the first time that I was ever truly alone, not knowing anybody but myself. The fact that we were all in the same position, however, provided a great comfort, and enabled us to establish friendships quickly. My study group, which consisted of four other individuals, assessed the local environmental impacts of small-scale hydroelectric dam systems. Others evaluated the social consequences of the dam systems, the common issue of public health in the developing world and specific problems faced by the average Bhutanese family, as well as the effects of deforestation on the local environment and economy. To be honest, though, the more time I spent there, the more I realized that studying and the academic rigor of the program was just a minute part of the overall experience.
I do not remember the exact scientific method and procedure that I used for my specific part of the research project. I do remember sitting around a campfire and discussing the values of democracy and how Bhutan was faring in its recent transition from a constitutional monarchy. I remember meandering around the capital city of Thimphu, prayer flags in hand, and getting fitted for a kira; hiking to the Taktshang Monastery, or Tiger’s Nest, located on the cliff, 900 meters high, to which Guru Rinpoche rode on a tiger’s back to bring Buddhism to the people of Bhutan; getting a treasured locket blessed by a Buddhist lama. At the conclusion of the trip, I was so excited to be going home, but I could not help but cry because this experience had opened a window in me, one that I would constantly look through to guess at my next adventure. Seven weeks. That’s all it took for me. I had always wanted to see the world. After this trip, however, I finally realized the difference between sight and experience. The first entailed several albums worth of pictures, the latter just memories to which no photo could do justice.
Travel is an addiction, and of all the addictions in this world, it is one that we should truly embrace. It was this addiction that took me to Hungary for a year and a half to teach English as a foreign language. Talk about alone! I was the only native English speaker and it took forever for me to break into the inner Hungarian circle, even with my Hungarian heritage. But. I would never trade a second of it—not the homesickness or the days that I just wanted a freaking jar of peanut butter. I’ll keep all of it with me forever because those points of weakness provide the greatest source of strength and confidence in the long run. So, my advice to you? Save the money, buy the ticket, open your eyes and your heart for that matter! For goodness sake, make like Frodo Baggins and get out of your comfort zone. You won’t regret it. And, luckily, when you’re at Albright College, you’ll always have a support system to help you get there.
Kaitlin Irwin ‘13
Studying abroad always seemed as if it were reserved for students who had money. Sure, it’d be great to travel to another country, a dream; but my financial situation just didn’t support that dream.
That mindset was totally altered when I learned about the ELCDC at Albright, where I was exposed to all of the possibilities for students who want to broaden their horizons in faraway places. I got to work on scholarship applications, and fortunately, one granted me a decent sum to allow me to study in Barcelona, Spain. And that’s where I caught a bug.
A travel bug, that is! I drank up the culture of Barcelona and only wanted more. Here I was, in a foreign city, studying a language I’ve come to love, and art that inspired and intrigued me. Not only that, but I was learning more about myself each day, meeting new people, and developing new perspectives. Upon my return to Albright, I sought out opportunities to share my experience and learn from others in my own community. I began volunteering in an ESL group in Reading, and sharing stories of my experiences while tutoring Spanish at Albright. I found that I was really enjoying this kind of work. I think Albright’s liberal arts and interdisciplinary curriculum greatly contributed to the way I began to address different circumstances. I studied subjects and themes that I had previously never even considered, but which proved to be interesting and fundamental in developing a manner of thinking.
I soon learned about an Albright class in Ecuador. I had to take out a loan for this one, but everyone around me knew that this would be a worthy investment, and it was! It was something new and different, and I fell in love once again, so much so, that I spoke with the English department about English-teaching jobs. Three months and a TESOL-certification course later, I was hired as an English teacher in Ecuador. At that moment, I thought to myself, Wait, when did all of this even happen?
I still ask myself that question, long after I’ve received my diploma from Albright. How did I go from immediately planning to transfer to the art college of my dreams to writing a thesis on architecture in Spanish at Albright? Not sure about that one, but I do know that I probably would not have travelled abroad, dared to explore all of my interests, and I almost certainly would not be teaching English in a foreign country (and be loving it) if I hadn’t stayed at Albright.
Kathryn Biehl ‘11
May 23, 2011, I was scared out of my mind. It was the day after my Albright graduation. The tassels had been turned, the speeches shared, the excitement had died down, and I had been left somewhere between the alma mater I love and my scary, unknown future. Now, I have to admit, I was a lucky one. I had a plan. After working with my advisors, mentors, and the Career Center during my senior year, I had successful gain admittance to Villanova University and was set to matriculate into their Masters of Communication Program and serve as a Graduate Assistant (department intern) in the Fall.
But between my last day at Albright and my first day at Villanova there was a LONG summer of waiting and thinking (which if you know me is extremely dangerous). I wondered, did I make the right choice? Could I handle Graduate School? Will having my Masters (and all the experiences that go along with getting it) help me to reach my goals? Would Villanova be the right place for me?
So needless to say, I panicked all summer, and anxiously went to my Orientation at Villanova hoping to find all of the answers to these burning questions. When I arrived, much to my surprise, I found out that I was not only prepared academically, but prepared professionally, to take on the challenges that my program and assistantship would present me with. And I have the strong foundation in campus leadership and experiential learning that I received at Albright to thank for that.
During my time at Albright I was blessed with a number of opportunities that enhanced by abilities to learn and grow as a Communications professional. My time management, organizational, communication, and leadership skills were all put to the test on a daily based in my roles of S.G.A. President, Vice President of Phi Mu sorority, a member of the POPS Steering Committee, and as a Resident Assistant. I gain valuable experience in the fields of Public Relations and Advertising, by being a part of AC2, working as the Campus Center Desk Managers, being an Admissions Ambassador/ FACE, and partnering with multiple campus organizations to build awareness for campus initiatives and events (i.e. S.G.A. Concert, Food Services outsourcing forums, etc.).
These Albright experiences, along with several others, prepared me for the challenges I have met in the last year. Since I graduate last Spring I have planned successful events for Villanova University in New Orleans, Philadelphia, and Washington D.C. Because of my work as a Graduate Assistant in Communication, I was asked to work in the Villanova University Alumni Associate to help coordinate events, public relations efforts, and help organize Reunion Weekend and the 60+ student volunteers working the events. And in April, I accepted my greatest challenge to date, working as an intern at Gregory FCA Communication, Philadelphia’s largest PR Agency (as deemed by Philadelphia Business Journal).
From writing a press release, to pitching to a national media outlet, to employing proper business etiquette, I can trace back all of these abilities to my history of experiential learning at Albright College. And it is because of this that I greatly urge all my fellow Albrightians to take advantage of the opportunities provided by the Experiential Learning and Career Development Center. Whether it is attending a workshop, participating in a mock interview, or mingling at an event with alumni, each and every one of these opportunities will provide you with the knowledge you will need to successful navigate the world beyond 13th Street. So in closing, I would say the best tips I can offer you as a student are to eat lots of WaWa, enjoy the view from an Adirondack chair, play volleyball in the mud, and become a frequent guest at the Experiential Learning and Career Development Center. Because, even if you don’t want to believe it, your days at Albright will end, but Albright’s ability help you achieve a better future, NEVER will.
Sarah Bear ‘11
It was in my first year at Albright that I discovered my passion for human rights, particularly women's rights, after seeing the Albright College Thespian Society run a performance of Eve Ensler's A Memory, A Monologue, A Rant, and A Prayer as part of the V-Day movement. Throughout the rest of my three years, I developed and honed my passion with help from Albright. In my junior year, I interned at the New Jersey Coalition Against Sexual Assault (NJCASA), and later the Alice Paul Institute (API) in Mt. Laurel, NJ. (I also discovered that I was a distant cousin of the great Alice Paul, suffragist and author of the Equal Rights Amendment.) I also traveled abroad to Ireland for my Fall 2009 semester, where I discovered that many European countries still do not provide as many reproductive rights for women compared to the US. All these experiences proved to be incredibly beneficial, not only in the education I received from these internships and experiences, but also in the opportunities with which I was presented after graduation. After completing the mandatory 40-hour training in the summer of 2011, I became a Confidential Sexual Violence Advocate for Contact of Burlington County's Sexual Assault Services in New Jersey. Shortly after, I started my service as an AmeriCorps Member at the very same agency. My involvement with API still continued, and because of this, I was provided with the opportunity to speak at a national press conference on Capitol Hill in Washington DC. I had the pleasure of speaking alongside some amazing women, including Congresswoman Maloney, Eleanor Smeal, and Terri O'Neill. After my one year service with AmeriCorps is completed come September, I will be joining API's staff as their Program Associate.
Albright opened my eyes to the world of nonprofit. Without them, I never would have found the internship at NJCASA, or even considered nonprofit as a career path. Internships played a crucial part in my career. I would not be where I am today without these experiences.
Sean Crossley ‘11
Networking will be one of the most important skills that you will have to master to propel your career forward. Make sure that in every opportunity that you have to interact with someone, that you put your best foot forward; let your personality shine and engage in an intellectual conversations being sure to ask insightful questions to show curiosity and a love for learning. You never know how that particular individual could help you out professionally or personally in the future. When I was an Albright undergrad, I was a tour guide for prospective families. On one of these tours, a prospective student's mother was so impressed with the tour that I had given, that she shared with me that she was a Human Resource partner at a large investment firm, SEI Investments, outside of King of Prussia and that she would love for me to come in for an interview. To make a long story short, this connection with this family eventually landed me my first job. Even after a year at SEI, I still have coffee and lunch with this HR professional. She has and continues to give me great professional advice and has been an advocate in my current role at SEI.
Internships/other work related experiences are extremely crucial for preparing for life outside Albright College. Having professional work experiences can help you understand what you might enjoy doing after college or what you might hate and never what to do again; both valuable lessons. Try to take advantage of as many experiences as possible to work in different sectors of industry and to demonstrate your ability to master diverse tasks, skills and adapt to unique environments. During many of my interviews for post-grad employment, the question that I could always expect is “how have you demonstrated what you have learned in class in professional environments?” To answer this question, I always turned to my internships and other work-related experiences to discuss how applicable the business knowledge that I learned at Albright would be to the company I was interviewing with. What really surprised me was that my past internships experience helped me advance faster in my career post college. Because I demonstrated an advanced level of professional maturity and due to my internships during college, I was recognized at SEI much faster than someone might have been with less professional undergrad experiences.
Make sure that you take advantage of all of the resources/opportunities that Albright has to offer. Whether it be join a club and demonstrate leadership skills, taking advantage of a study abroad program either for a semester or through the interim program, conduct research through an ACRE grant; make sure that you enjoy Albright and use its great resources to develop yourself personally and professionally. Always use the Experiential Learning and Career Development Center as they will be your biggest advocate for helping you prepare for professional life outside of Albright College and don't forget, their value doesn't end once you have a job. I continue to keep in touch with many of the Center professionals and through these relationships they serve as great mentors that give me great advice that has helped me in my roles at SEI.
Becky Smith ‘11
My name is Becky Smith I graduated with a Bachelors of Art in Fine Art and Art History in 2011, but how I got there is a much more interesting story. In the Smith family there are two groups of people, the medical professionals and the computer geniuses. Going backwards from me all the way to my great grandmother you will find four nurses, two engineers, a doctor and a computer programmer. So, needless to say my choice to major in Art was not a celebrated one, (I am sure my mother can attribute a majority of her grey hairs to this choice). Luckily my parents saw my passion for art and gave me their blessing and urged me to give it a try. However, there was one condition. I had to go to a liberal arts college. Fortunately for me an application for such a school had just come in the mail. It was “The Big Red App” from Albright College. So, I filled it out and in a few short months I had been accepted, and before I knew it I was unpacking my bags in Mohn Hall.
From the moment I set foot in the Art Department at Albright they began grooming me for a career in the arts and opening my eyes to art forms I had never even heard of. I wanted to try EVERYTHING! All mediums, large works, small works, new practices, and the ancient ones! My thirst for knowledge was never quenched and I was continually curious. My desire to cover as much academic ground as possible led me to the Career Center, where they suggested I try to satisfy my craving for knowledge with an internship. Soon I was taking part in a -work-study at the Freedman Gallery (located at Albright College), where I learned a number of valuable skills spanning exhibition design and arts administration. After working at the Freidman for several months I was referred to the Goggleworks to begin my second arts administrative internship. Along with working on a juried show at the Goggleworks, which brought together international artists, I was able to continue my work at the Freedman and even work with both galleries on their first ever-combined exhibition.
By this time I was a junior, I was eager to get back to creating artwork. Seeing my interest in innovative art forms, Professor Kristen Woodward offered to sponsor me for the ACRE grant. Our proposal was chosen and we spent Summer 2010 experimenting in a revolutionary form of printmaking called “Clay Printing.” A process which uses powered clay, a clay slab, and pigment to create an image that is then transferred on to fabric , we used process to create a thematic series of artwork that promoted awareness of the many problems and challenges facing women in the workplace, home, and within the artistic community. After the completion of our ACRE we went on to present our artwork in a presentation entitled “Printing Women: Revolutionary Printmaking” at the 2011 National Conference of Undergraduate Research.
During my experiential learning experiences I met many local artists and I networked like a mad woman. I talked to every artist I met about the ups, downs, and everyday going-ons of the art world. Four years later I had come to know many of them on a personal level and in my senior year I was awarded an internship at a local art company called All Together Art. And within a few short months, greatly because of the knowledge and experience I had gained from my previous experiential opportunities, I was offered the full time position of Gallery Manager at All Together Art Inc. With that said, I would not have accomplished all that I have to date without the help of the lovely ladies in the Career Center and the devoted professors of the Art department. It was because of their dedication and unwavering faith in me that I was encouraged to explore every avenue of the arts I could. Their investment in my education and development gave me the confidence I needed to enthusiastically embrace every new adventure that my professional life has had in store. I will always be grateful to Albright College for the knowledge that was handed down to me and for the skills that continue to serve me today.
Sarah Bruno ‘11
Honestly, I don't think I was able to fully appreciate the sheer vastness of the variety of important lessons that I learned during my time at Albright until this year--my official indoctrination into the so-called real world. Last year was my first year as a graduate student at Lehigh University, where I am pursuing my MA in English and my Graduate Certificate in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. Fortunately, I was given a university fellowship, which enabled me to focus solely on my scholarship last year, without a teaching requirement.
However, this year I have a teaching fellow position, so last week was my first official immersion into the world of teaching. I teach English Composition and Literature 1 to a group of twenty first year students. This has been my first real job out of college, and based on my experiences so far, I have to say that it is both more challenging and more rewarding than I ever could have imaged. Every day that I stand in front of my class is different. I can prepare for hours--in fact, I probably over-prepare (which is the mark of a new teacher)--and still, I cannot anticipate what my students will say in class the next day. It definitely keeps me on my toes.
Even though my background as an English major has obviously helped me a great deal in explaining the various facets of the readings to my students, when I enter the classroom, I bring all of me. I incorporate the public speaking skills I learned from my involvement and leadership roles within various extra-curricular activities, including Sigma Tau Delta, Agon, and the Gender Resource Center. I certainly bring the acting skills that I learned during my time as a DP (which is to say, even if I'm not having the most confident day, at least I can act like I am). I bring the passion for literature and a love of reading for which I thank the English department, to whom I will always be indebted. And perhaps most importantly, I bring a sense of inquisitiveness, a questioning of the status quo, a way of thinking beyond borders that I believed was fostered during my four years at Albright.
I always felt encouraged by the faculty and staff to pursue roads less traveled, even if that meant disagreeing with relatively influential individuals. However, I always found opportunities to open new venues of discourse at Albright--which is an experience that I am not sure every college student has, especially at larger universities, where they may run the risk of having their voices drowned out.
I know that many students quip about our motto, "A different way of thinking;" but nevertheless, I feel that the Albright community fostered not only the ability to think differently about normative situations, but also a conviction that doing so was as personally compelling as it was socially critical. I am very grateful for the time that I spent at Albright, and I will continue to carry the lessons that I learned there with me, and hopefully instill some of them in my own students.
Garth Knoch ‘11
In my junior year, Dr. Artz and Dr. Texter tried to set me up with a summer internship with a chemistry field sampling team for the US Army in Maryland (near my hometown). However, after doing a phone interview, the internship offer was turned down due to finance problems. Instead, I did a summer ACRE and continued my research with Dr. Texter through my senior year at Albright (including interim). The research helped me in many ways: I became more disciplined, learned a ton of various laboratory and real life skills. I think the most valuable skill learned in the four years I spent at Albright was how to be disciplined and prioritize. Most importantly, it (research) helped me realize that I did NOT want a future career in chemistry or biochemistry research. I also realized I did not want to spend every day in a laboratory setting.
Since I had no interest in working in the lab and didn't have any obvious career options that I liked, I chose to apply for jobs rather than take the GREs for graduate school. Dr. Texter and Dr. Artz always encouraged and pushed me to my limits, but respected my decision not to apply for graduate school.
During my job search in the spring of my senior year, I got a phone call from the chemistry team at the US Army base in Maryland that I had spoken to about the internship. There was a job opening on their team, so I applied, interviewed, and eventually got the job. I'll pass my one year mark working for the Army as a field sampling analytical scientist June 13, and I am certain that this is the career choice that suits me best. Thanks to a great team of chemistry and biochemistry professors, I am doing what I love.
Caitlin Draayer '13
I am currently interning at Reading Public Museum, and have been for a year already. My only title there is "Intern". It was thanks to Karen Evans, in the Experiential Learning and Career Development Center, that I was able to obtain my internship. After meeting with her and discussing my future plans and the possibilities I chose to pursue an internship at the Museum. I reached out to the Director there and had a brief interview in the spring before beginning the internship the following fall. At the Museum, I have a variety of tasks that include cataloguing and photographing collections, assembling display cases and exhibitions, and attending exhibit openings and events. Overall, I help the curatorial staff in any of their needs. Most of my work is performed in the Museum, either in the offices or in the galleries themselves. My internship is still ongoing, but as far as changes from the past year, I have received more responsibilities and have also become more comfortable speaking with the staff and voicing my thoughts on an idea.
Interning at Reading Public Museum is a perfect internship for me since I want to pursue a future in the museum field. After graduation I will be applying to graduate programs in Museum Studies, and the first hand experience I have gained will be very beneficial to my course work in graduate school as well as a future position in a museum. The internship has also helped me solidify my choice to pursue a future in the museum field. My work at the internship reinforced my belief that I will enjoy my future career and that my thoughts of what the job would entail are realistic. Through the course of my internship so far I have learned a lot about myself, such as I do have a good grasp of basic concepts and I also have a good eye for museum work.
My greatest advice would be that internships not only are good resume-builders, but they are also key in helping you decide if this career is truly what you want to do with the rest of your life. You gain valuable experience, as well as connections for future use. I would also tell students to be open in the beginning of your internship, and that even if things aren't what you expected give it a fair shot. You could be surprised.
Miriah Wilson ‘13
This summer I studied abroad in Tanzania, Africa. As I’m sure most people say after studying abroad, it was the most memorable and amazing experience of my life. I absolutely cannot wait to go back, and I will go back. It was so hard to leave the place I began to call my new home, as I expressed in my last blog post:
“Well, I didn't post in my last few days in Tanzania because I really couldn't bring myself to the reality that it was ending. I was having the time of my life, and I just wanted it to last a little bit longer. I felt as if I was just starting to get close to all the students and staff there. But, I knew I'd have to say goodbye to my new family eventually. It was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do.. saying goodbye to everyone. I tried to stay strong and hold back the tears, but I just couldn't do it. You could tell the staff got attached too, some of them wouldn't talk, some cried with us, and some just didn't want to be seen. On the other hand, knowing that I was about to finally see my family and friends made me the happiest girl. My emotions were fluctuating so much!”
I didn’t expect to get so attached to my new way of life and all of the new people I met in just a month. It’s amazing how just one month can change your life forever. I have a new outlook. I’ll catch myself beginning to complain about something so minute, and the first thing I think of is, “They wouldn’t even think of complaining about this in Tanzania. Their lives are so much simpler.” One of the most rewarding experiences I got out of the trip was spending a whole day at a local family’s house. In the morning it was all work, work, work, but in the afternoon everyone was just so carefree. They found joy in the smallest of things. The woman I stayed with was named Mama Happy. I would do anything just to put her children through higher education. They spoke very broken English, but, from what I heard, they had so much potential. Less than 1% of people go to college, and I hope her kids have that opportunity. They taught me to enjoy life, take it in strides, and just smile and be happy with what you have. This was probably the most important thing I learned the whole trip.
The rest of my trip I learned more than just life lessons. I was educated on a number of ideas that Tanzanians are implementing in order to be more environmentally friendly. Most of these techniques involved somehow using less wood. There were new stoves put in schools that used less wood, a new technique for making bricks, and a few tree nurseries. We even were able to see a biogas farm, which is pretty much equivalent to our use of propane gas stove instead of a wood stove. Other things I learned were animal counting techniques and methods, and methods and reasons for animal observations.
In order to do our animal observations, we travelled to many different parks in Tanzania. We would jump in our land rovers early in the morning, and basically explore the parks for the rest of the day. Of course we had some paperwork to do on these excursions, but it still allowed me to feel like I was on an adventure. My favorite excursion was the camping trip in the Serengeti. When I tell people I did this, I usually have to explain that this kind of camping is not what people are used to. We were actually in the middle of the Serengeti. I woke up numerous times throughout the nights because I would hear zebras, buffalo, and hyenas calling. Our camp had two armed guards to escort us around when it became dark outside. Here is a excerpt from my blog following the Serengeti experience:
“So I can officially say that I survived the Serengeti! I can also say that camping will never be the same. The Serengeti has a few public campsites. They consist of a big open area where you can put your tents anywhere you want, a caged in kitchen area so the animals can’t get in, and a bathroom and shower area that consisted of one toilet and shower for women. We had over 30 women with us, plus all the other female tourists that were also camping there. Needless to say, this was a problem. Sometimes I would wait a half hour in a line for the bathroom, and I didn’t shower the whole time we were there. 4 days without a shower.. hmm. The only other bad part of the trip was the Tse-Tse flies. They are pretty much the African version of horseflies. They bit my ankles and feet so much, and the bites are red and swollen and huge. Everything else about the trip was absolutely amazing. We pretty much just went out in our land cruisers and searched for animals the whole time. The main attractions were all the carnivores-especially the big cats. I saw so many lions, it was unbelievable. I saw 17 in one day, and 4 of them were cubs! The cheetahs were the hardest to spot because they were always behind tufts of grass and termite mounds. The leopards were usually lounging in a tree somewhere and there were always about 15 cars parked around it. It amazes me how comfortable they seemed up there in the trees. I have pictures that I can’t wait to show! I also got a ton of pictures of zebras, wildebeests, and gazelles because we were there during the Great Migration! Thousands of these animals were travelling all at once. It was an awesome sight to see!”
Another heartwarming experience I had while in Tanzania was working with the children at the school and the orphanage. The school kids looked at us like celebrities. We taught them our games, and they taught us theirs. I played the biggest game of “duck-duck-goose!” that I’ve ever played in my life. I’m pretty sure we could have broken a world record with the number of people playing at once. At the orphanage we helped clear out an area full of rocks, brush, and lots of bugs so that a kitchen and playground could be built. The orphanage had just recently been moved to a safer area, so they were still building and doing renovations. The School for Field Studies does a lot of work for the orphanage. We just want to go back again and again. The kids were so appreciative, and it gave me the best sense of community seeing the staff, the students, and the kids all working together. A little help goes a long way- not only to what the eye can see, but also the heart.
I would never change a single thing about my trip. My life has been changed forever. Kuishi. Kucheka. Upendo. Live. Laugh. Love.
John Weber '12
I was preparing to graduate Albright in May 2012 with a degree in Business Management/Economics. I had started interviewing in the Fall of 2011 and really felt that I had a good idea of what type of work I envisioned myself leaning towards. My skill set suggested financial analysis or sales, but I really wanted to see more of the world after my study abroad in Germany. It was that spirit of adventure that led me to the JET (Japanese Exchange Teaching) Program.
The application, interview and overall wait for the position was arduous and stressful. However, after nearly 7 months from submitting the final paperwork, I was called and offered a dream job in Hokkaido Prefecture in Northern Japan. I now teach English in my town's local Kindergarten, Elementary, Junior High and High School. Every day is exciting and my job involves a small amount of international relations work for my small municipality.
I know that I will eventually return to the business world in some way or another. But sometimes taking chances and working in an environment totally unknown is the best way to grow as an individual. I went from essentially zero Japanese to understanding basic conversation in a month. I play in the local Taiko drum group and joined a basketball league.
Start your applications early and always have a backup plan and a backup-backup plan. Be realistic with what you can accomplish and what type of work you are willing to accept. Have fun and remember to find a balance between a job that you love and a career with the potential for career development. Don't burn bridges. Potential employers are people too! Most important of all, be young and venturesome.
Where did you intern/work?
Springfield, PA w/ PBSKIDS Sprout and Reading, PA w/ Animal Planet
When did you intern/work, and did you have a “title”?
I worked the months of May and June as a Production Assistant at PBSKIDS Sprout, and I worked July through September as a casting assistant with Animal Planet.
How did you obtain your position?
I was hired for the PBS job because of the internship I held with them last year. Someone I worked with on the Sprout shoot recommended me to the Producer at Animal Planet, and after an interview, I landed that job.
Provide us with a brief job description, including the type of setting and some tasks you completed
As a Producer’s Assistant, I worked on set directly along side of the cameramen, actors, puppets, and directors. My duties included re arranging set pieces, prepping the talent, and making sure we were on schedule with the shots the director wanted to do for that day. As a casting assistant, I served as the artistic eye in Reading for the head office in LA. It was my job to choose the Reading cast.
How did the experience change from the beginning to the end?
When I began at Sprout I did not have much interaction with the talent, and I often found myself trying to just stay out of the way. By the end, however, I became very important in the flow of the day because it was my job to keep the talent on schedule. They quickly saw I could take on a lot of responsibility.
How did your experience relate to what you want to do after graduation?
I was very lucky to have the chance to work on set of a new original program. I want to be a Creative Producer and create my own show, so it was amazing to see how ideas come to fruition through production.
Did this work confirm your career goal, or has it deterred you from pursuing this goal?
This opportunity allowed me to get a sense of what each production team member does. If anything, this also sparked my interest in directing.
Did your experience help tie together some of your courses, or your concentrations? If so, how?
I am currently enrolled in a Media Production class in which I am creating and producing my own television show. Both my internship and my jobs taught me how to work with the templates used in the business, so my work will be credible with what is actually found in the real world.
What insights into the professional work world have you gained as a result of your experience?
I learned that employers are much more understanding of real life conflicts. I worked in a place where work co-existed with life, and I learned I want to work in a similarly run business. I do not want to revolve my life around work.
What, in your performance, are you most proud?
I was most proud when the producer listened to my suggestion for a script change. I did not understand what the lead talent was trying to convey to the children, so I gave my input on what I think a toddler would understand. They immediately agreed and now my version of the script will run on national television.
Did you surprise yourself in any way. If so, how?
I was surprised that I was not shy to tell the director what I wanted to gain from this experience. Networking and confidence are crucial and I did not hesitate to tell the director that I am interested in acting. In fact, the director used me as background talent in one of the episodes because of my ambitions.
What did you discover about your fit in this type of career?
I have always felt different from other young adults because of the importance I place on organization and schedules. The production world depends on strict deadlines, and because of this I know I will thrive in this career.
What advice do you have for current or prospective students who may not be considering an internship and/or who are currently in the process of finding/completing their internship?
It it important to intern at a company that operates congruently with your morals. I love the mission statement of Sprout and Animal Planet, so it was easy to work with employees that live their lives similar to me. I can now relax the rest of my college career knowing that I have a job waiting for me after I graduate. If I had not interned at a place where I belonged, this would not have happened.