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Interns put their knowledge to work on campus

Woman sits at desk
As part of her internship at the Sojourner Truth Library, Judy Perry '05 (History) works at the information desk for four hours each week

Senior Jon Jackson '07 (Graphic Design) will graduate from New Paltz with a portfolio of professional work that includes posters for campus programs such as "Urinetown, the Musical" "Fefu and her Friends," "Fresh Dance" and the Art Lecture Series 2007.

Through his internship with the School of Fine and Performing Arts, Jackson said he has gained a sense of accomplishment by seeing his posters, brochures and Web sites being used.

The experience has also provided him with the opportunity to work with clients. For every project Jackson has worked on, he has had to meet with the director or artist whose work appears on the advertising poster to determine the approach to take on the project.

"My goal is to have them (interns) apply their knowledge to a real world environment complete with deadlines, expectations and sometimes even a budget," said David Cavallaro, director of art services in the School of Fine and Performing Arts, who has employed graphic design students as interns for a number of years.

Cavallaro sets a professional atmosphere from the beginning. Jackson had to apply for the position, was interviewed and submitted a portfolio before receiving the internship.

There are a number of students putting their skills to work in internships on campus. It is the college's mission to teach a curriculum that prepares students for the world outside of the New Paltz campus. Internships allow students to apply the information they learned in the classroom to productive work experience.

"Our end goal is to make it simple for as many students as possible to experience an internship by accessing information and opportunities in a straightforward and reliable manner," said Tonda Highley, director of the Career Resource Center.

When it was time for Judy Perry '05 (History) to fulfill the internship requirement of the Master of Science in Information Sciences (M.S.I.S.) at the University of Albany, she knew exactly where she wanted to go.

At the Sojourner Truth Library, Perry works 20 hours a week on such projects as restructuring the library's Web subject page for the History Department and working with the collection development department to weed out outdated books.

Perry said library employees like Valerie Mittenberg have treated her like a real employee. The experience has allowed her to return to her alma mater and use what she has learned in the classroom to explore different areas of the information science field, including serials, electronic resources, cataloging and user instruction. Perry said she has also decided she is most interested in the technological aspect of the program.

Intern and mentor
David Cavallaro (left), director of art services in the School of Fine and Performing Arts, and Jon Jackson '07 (Graphic Design) collaborated on a series of eight posters for the Art Lecture Series Spring 2007 (seen in the background).
"I needed to do this in order to figure out where I wanted to go," said Perry who, in addition to her project work, has two, two-hour shifts per week at the information desk.

A survey conducted for the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AACU) found that 73 percent of employers questioned look for employees with experience working in a professional setting, most often in the form of an internship.

In order to foster more hands-on experiences like Perry and Jackson's, the college has created an Internship Advisory Council made up of academic faculty members from across the disciplines and professional faculty from the campus Career Resource Center. Provost David Lavallee asked the council to develop recommendations for overall improvements in the college's Internship Program.

Beth King, internship coordinator in the Career Resource Center and a council member, runs programs to prepare students for internships with sessions on such topics as resume writing, interview skills, internship search strategies and tips for success while on the internship.

On April 12, the center hosted an Internship and Summer Job Fair that was attended by more than 350 students looking to put the theories they've learned in the classroom into action. On April 26, from 9 to 11 a.m., the center will recognize interns and employers at the Internship Recognition Event.