The Internship Seminar, as conceived and taught by Dean Nicola Blake, prepares Liberal Arts and Sciences (LAS) majors for their careers after graduation. This elective course revolves around work in the field; participation in professional events, including networking with professionals; and course assignments and reflections. This type of immersion in the field is a best practice, and though still rarely applied to LAS, it is widely recommended to ease the often difficult transition from college to career-oriented employment. By leading this implementation at Guttman, Dean Blake’s Internship Seminar is paving smoother professional roads for graduates from the College’s largest major.
The high-impact internship experience is supported by class meetings to reflect on the assigned workplaces, to analyze how “insider” experiences shaped the students’ understanding of these environments, and to situate organizations or companies within larger socioeconomic and political contexts. This past fall, the seminar also devoted time to building concrete self-presentation skills – in-person and online. Digital and social media expert Sabrina Kizzie, photographer Kay Hickman, and Celia Lloyd, “a higher education strategist and change leader,” all visited the class as guest speakers.
Prior to their visits, all were already members of the greater Guttman community: Ms. Kizzie and Ms. Lloyd are active mentors with our Women of Gratitude, Resilience, Integrity, and Talent (GRIT) Leadership and Mentorship Program, while Ms. Hickman was the featured speaker at The Witness: Student Photo Showcase, organized by Dean Blake for her Topics in Literature class in February 2018. Recently, Ms. Hickman’s photography was featured in The Pilgrimage Project, an exhibit at the historic Woodlawn House in Alexandria, Virginia. It is a testament to the pride she takes in “work that will expand the narrative of the African Diaspora while challenging monolithic representation.”
Ms. Kizzie, a highly acclaimed digital media and marketing strategist, assisted the students in setting up their LinkedIn accounts, showing the ins and outs of creating a profile geared specifically for professional advancement. Ms. Hickman, an NYC-based photographer, followed this visit with a photo shoot. All of the students received professional digital headshots to enhance their LinkedIn profiles and other career-related materials. Both Ms. Hickman and Ms. Kizzie started their academic careers at community colleges and fully understand the value of sharing their skills. More importantly, they served as inspiring role models for our students while helping them expand their professional networks. Integral to the Internship Seminar’s course design, the content and activities described intentionally implement the Career Readiness Competencies elaborated by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE).
To round out the speaker series, Ms. Lloyd, the Assistant Vice President for Academic Momentum and Student Success and member of the Executive Cabinet at The City College of New York, delivered an interactive workshop on poise and professional self-presentation, shaking hands and maintaining eye contact all the while. The three visits complemented the intensive nature of the internship, adding critical layers of exposure and experience to the course and enhancing its effectiveness. The students, all graduating at the end of the spring semester, will soon be using their newly sharpened skills in similar workplaces as more confident, better prepared professionals.
Special thanks are due to financial support from the Student Success Fund, internship placement by the Office of Partnerships and Engagement (OPCE), particularly Tiffany Bailey-Gilles, and the special attention of Valerie Payne, University Director of Workforce Development at The City University of New York, and Angie Kamath, University Dean of Continuing Education and Workforce Programs, CUNY.