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Career Services staff: internships are key to success
Kesha Williams
August 28, 2013

Valerie Edwards Elizabeth City State University students aren’t simply returning to campus for the next semester of classes. They are returning to the Office of Career Services to plan for the future.

Makitta Whitehurst-McLean, director of Career Services, has announced workshops and career fairs that will take place during the next three months. Events include workshops that cover resume writing tips, employer expectations, job search strategies and use of social media. A career fair is scheduled for Sept. 19 in the R. L. Vaughan Center from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. A job and internship expo for the natural sciences is scheduled for Nov. 21 in the lobby of the Jimmy R. Jenkins Science Center. Whitehurst-McLean said she applauds students who are adding the events to their fall calendar.

Whitehurst-McLean also is working on internship student evaluation forms. The forms reveal details of summer internships completed by ECSU students. Each Friday, the staff in Career Services distributes an “e-booklet” that lists internships and employment opportunities across the state and the nation. ECSU students receive them via email and select those they determine most related to their career ambitions. Six students currently are reflecting on their summer internships. Whitehurst-McLean said internships are invaluable because they help students gain practical experience that prepares them for the real world of work.

“Our workshops prepare students for career fairs, interviews and events related to the job interview. An internship, however, can be an eye opener for students who are trying to set long-term career choices. Employers are looking for students who have on-the-job training or experience related to their college major,” Whitehurst-McLean said.

“A student who completed an internship has an advantage over job applicants with no previous experience,” she continued. “Although students prefer paid internships, those that offer low or no pay can prove to be a valuable experience for students. The knowledge gained on a job site, and the expectations employers have of employees at the site, are crucial for college students.”

Six ECSU students recently returned to campus and discussed their internships at Dulles International Airport, the Air Force Research Laboratory in Dayton, Ohio, Walt Disney and Tuskegee University. All agree they experienced a work site far more engaging than what they had imagined. Donyai Moffatt, an aviation science major from Kinston, N.C., completed an internship at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton.

“An internship is the first time you actually test your hands on what you have been studying. My supervisor took measures to assure that my internship was challenging and enjoyable. I appreciate the staff here for helping me find a rigorous internship through the Thurgood Marshall College Fund,” Moffatt said. ECSU’s Office of Career Services represents one of 47 institutions that partner with the Thurgood Marshall College Fund to identify internships and scholarships and to hold professional development seminars for college students at the nation's public Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).

Valerie Edwards, a senior from Whiteville, N.C., is majoring in aviation science and her minor is communications. She completed an internship in the Office of External Affairs at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management. She learned how the agency uses newsletters and social media to relay its news and information to employees and external audiences who want to learn about related nuclear clean-up efforts.

“Being at the Department of Energy this summer shed light on the countless possibilities for me to choose from, and that excites me,” Edwards said.

For more information on Career Services, call the Office of Career Services at 252.335.3287. ###