Kristin Cole ‘21
Students enter college with the hopes of obtaining a job that will not only be an expression of their skill sets and interests, but also as a way to ensure a secure, financially stable future. Merrimack College’s O’Brien Center for Career Development which helps students learn professional skills and find internships and career opportunities, has added yet another tool to provide students with a way to realize these hopes while providing other valuable career opportunities: the Internship Institute.
The development of the Internship Institute marks the phasing out of the previous “Warriors at Work” program. The difference? Everyone is welcome. “Warriors at Work” was limited to students with specific majors, such as Business and Communication and Media. On the other hand, the Internship Institute is welcoming students under of all majors and minors to participate.
The most eye-catching aspect of this new program, as seen in the Institute’s promotional email, is the “guaranteed internships” that the Institute promises to participating students. Now, this does not mean that an internship opportunity will be handed to students upon the completion of this program, rather, if students participate in the program with an eagerness to learn, complete the work, and take initiatives to begin their career search, then their chances of obtaining an internship will skyrocket. In order to achieve this, students must participate in three readiness “bootcamps.” According to Internship Institute Director Stacey Phelps, the three bootcamps consist of “highly interactive, hands-on simulations that will help students build professional written and verbal communication skills, and critical thinking and problem-solving abilities.” Bootcamps will also address interviewing abilities, professional dress, networking tips, and building student confidence. Furthermore, the Institute will provide students with networking opportunities and the ability to complete project work for an industry partner for students to add to their resumes.
The overarching goal of the Institute is not only to hone students’ professional skills, but to shift their mindsets about the internship application process, says Phelps. Staff at the O’Brien Center for Career Development encourage students to meet their career advisors as early as freshman year to begin to consider their future occupations. By creating an environment that emphasizes personal career management and allows for students to identify their weaknesses, the Institute provides a “safety net” for students to focus on skills they may be lacking without the fear of failure.
“The Institute allows us to truly stand behind our students when we’re talking to employers and confidently say ‘they’re equipped, and here’s why,’” Phelps says. Now that the Institute is available to all majors, the O’Brien Center is taking great strides to tailor the program to each specific major, but first, students need to sign up. Faculty participation and professional business involvement will be based off of the majors that participate in the program. Phelps claims that once all of the students who are willing to participate sign up, staff will look at the spread of majors and determine the needs of each specific student, such as which faculty and professional advice would benefit them the most. The program’s staff will not only consist of career advisors from the O’Brien Center, but professors and business professionals from the fields that help facilitate professional training and give students valuable feedback.
“This program is beneficial for students of all levels, and the faculty here want to bring out the best in Merrimack’s students. Our role is to help shape them, provide critical feedback, and prepare them for the real world while creating a loyal community. You’re here to work on your skills, we’re here to help you. We’re all in this together,” says Phelps. The Internship Institute is starting in the spring of 2020.
Spring 2020 Bootcamp Dates
Wednesday, February 5, 5:00-8:00 pm
Wednesday, March 4, 5:00-8:00 pm
Wednesday, April 1, 5:00-8:00 pm