I vividly remember my orientation where the phrase “Get Involved!” was yelled at me repeatedly for two days straight. They even showed a video on ‘senior regrets’ which discussed how students wished they had gotten more involved on campus. It was quite the overwhelming experience for a student who came from a high school that did not have a football team, let alone student interest groups. I made it my mission to find how students, including myself, could get the most of their CU experience, while also bettering them post-graduation.
After doing my research, I can see why I was encouraged to become aware of university activities. You can join a club related to your major, or if that doesn’t interest you, one about scuba diving or sky-diving might do the trick. There are also a lot of opportunities available on campus related to volunteer work and part-time jobs that I was not aware of as well.
One of the most surprising things I found when talking to advisers was that if you are in the engineering department or a social science major and are interested in the research that one of your professors is doing, oftentimes they will let you volunteer with them just by asking. Christopher Anderson, engineering department adviser, discussed the way joining a research lab or doing a summer internship is “a good foot in the door” for graduation.
The theater department has an extensive list of places where students can do internships according to Kyle Neidt, theater department adviser. The Colorado Shakespeare Festival and the Curious Theatre Company are a couple of examples. Neidt said that a theater major requires an internship for their BA. She also spoke highly of CU’s Fringe Festival where theater students take over the entire University Theatre building for a weekend in April and put on their own performances without the inclusion of any of the professors. An activity like this could look impressive on a resume.
Ken Bonetti, economics department adviser, talked about the way an internship or part time job, along with a good GPA, will benefit students who want to “get into the job market right after they graduate,” because of the practical experience you receive and the references with whom you can make connections.
My concern is that I learned more about the opportunities at CU from the week I spent talking to advisers and researching departments than I had my entire freshman year. And while the information is out there if you go looking for it, I feel like a lot of the freshman class doesn’t even know that it exists.
Everyone I know who has applied or been accepted to a summer internship program, including myself, began their search without looking at what CU has to offer first. This is a shame considering that CU has information on internships from all over the country, including a few internationally, and you can be sure that these would be quality internships instead of random ones consisting of doing busy paper work and fetching coffee. Instead of just being told to “get involved,” I think that students should be given a bit more of direction their freshman year so that they can fully take advantage of what CU has to offer.
I think that developing a way to keep the students more informed about their opportunities is vital in producing students that will stand out once they graduate. Christopher Anderson, undergraduate adviser in the mechanical engineering department, talked about the way he sends out emails or posts flyers within the engineering building if an internship or research opportunity comes up.
As a psychology major, I went around reading the flyers in Muenzinger, and although every board had a flyer on joining the Psi Chi club or a random volunteer experiment, I couldn’t find anything related to opportunities that dealt with studies or internships within the psychology department. That being said, the psychology department website contains a ton of information on the research going on here at CU that I feel like a lot of students are not aware of.
I am not saying that students should be told about every opportunity available. College is the first step to being independent for most, and I think that it is important for students to learn how to go out and find the information they need for themselves. However, I do think that as a freshman it is very easy to get distracted and lose track of what is important, and this can be very risky when your future is at stake. I feel like a lot of people turn to internships right before they graduate, but there are so many opportunities that can benefit students right from their freshman year. I think that an hour info session before college starts in the fall, or an adviser handing out a pamphlet on how to get involved with your major would be beneficial to those who are looking for opportunities and would also prevent the rush to find opportunities right before graduation.
Internships are a vital part of getting a job once you graduate regardless of what field you choose to pursue. They can help students realize whether or not they really want to pursue a career in the major they are working on. I don’t want it to be five years after I graduate, looking back on college and wishing I had been an international affairs major instead of environmental studies major. As Bonetti said, you want to think that your major is “the best thing since sliced bread.”
Contact Staff Writer Danielle Meltz at Danielle.firstname.lastname@example.org