By Katie Montgomery
The transition from college student to professional employee can be difficult, but internships, mentorships and part-time jobs done throughout a student’s college years are meant to ease that process.
Many higher education programs — like business, engineering, education and healthcare — require their students to complete an internship or co-op experience of some kind before they graduate.
Youngstown State University’s education and nursing programs help their students with required student-teaching experiences or clinicals, and the Williamson College of Business Administration and the College of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics provide students with professional service offices to aid in locating internships.
Four of the six colleges at YSU have professional service offices available for student use. The College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences and the College of Creative Arts and Communications don’t offer professional service offices. YSU Provost Martin Abraham attributes this in part to a lack of practical internship experiences available for certain majors in those colleges.
Abraham said not all majors and disciplines have an immediately apparent fit or job that an intern can easily pick up and do for a semester or two. He used history as an example of a major which may be difficult to connect with a practical undergraduate internship, since graduate studies or research are generally required in that field of work.
“There are other places and even some of those in [the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences] where [an internship] would be an obvious fit,” he says. “It’s a question of how does it fit, and how well does it get in, and how many opportunities are there for them. In some areas, it’s just easier to do that than others.”
Identifying which programs and disciplines are the most applicable to currently available internships and employers is the next step for creating internship offices for the rest of YSU.
Sherri Hrusovski, coordinator for the STEM Professional Services office, sees internship services as a crucial two-sided gateway for students to explore the professional world and also for employers to experience and approve of YSU students and their abilities first-hand.
“If you look at the big picture, the professional services are the clearinghouse for everything, for internships and co-ops and employers trying to reach out,” Hrusovski says. “Would it be feasible to have this for every college? Yes, absolutely. Students need to have someone to go to for this.”
Creating an office to meet the needs of students who currently lack access to professional services — students in CLASS and the CCAC — is not a simple process, according to Abraham.
“Before we started it, we used the WCBA office, and we shared those resources, and our students would take advantage of that,” he said. “Part of the reason we split off is that the number of students we had just became overwhelming for that operation.”
Hrusovski said it’s common for universities to have one larger career services office for the entire university and then also separate professional services and internship offices for each of the colleges or programs.
“It’s important because you have a different relationship,” she said. “You’re here [in the college building], you’re working with your students, you know them, and students can stop by easier because you’re in the same area.”
According to Hrusovski, Abraham was the one who recognized the need for professional services to extend to more YSU students.
“He was the one who said ‘we need to have this office,'” she said.
Abraham said they needed some kind of operation that would effectively help students get jobs.
“Not so much the permanent jobs, because we already have Career Services [in Kilcawley], but the internship opportunities,” he said.
After STEM began its own professional services, the Ohio state government began the initiative Ohio Means Internships and Co-ops in 2014. OMIC, according to the 2015 Annual Report, is intended to “create or expand internship and cooperative education programs.” In its first year alone, OMIC awarded over $10.8 million in grants to universities around the state to further this goal.
This funding has been invaluable to YSU, STEM and WCBA, Abraham says.
“[When OMIC started], we put together a proposal and were fortunate enough to be selected for funding in that program… and we were able to renew and that allowed us to expand the operation and grow the activity further,” Abraham said.
While OMIC currently provides funding primarily for STEM and business majors, the Annual Report says that the program will continue to expand into other majors and disciplines, but Abraham thinks that it may be a little more difficult than it was for business or STEM majors.
“It’s actually fairly common in other areas as well, they just don’t call them internships and co-ops, like in education or healthcare, with student-teaching experiences or clinicals,” he said. “When we talk about expanding internships and co-ops, generally speaking we’re talking about expanding into other areas.”