Students weave work experience into college life

Suzanne Clarke is witness to the advantages GW’s location offers its students. Every week she e-mails internship opportunities to students in the School of Media and Public Affairs.

“The opportunities seem endless,” said Clarke, SMPA’s coordinator of external relations.

Clarke said GW students are fortunate for the internship opportunities she never had access to as an undergraduate at the University of Kansas in Topeka.

Administrators and students agree the GW’s location at the heart of the nation’s capital, provides unique opportunities for students – who need only seek them out.

The Career Center, located on the fifth floor of the Academic Center, offers several services to aid students in their search.

Employers contact the Career Center on a regular basis to scout prospective interns and employees, said Amanda Upson, a career information coordinator.

Along with the bounty of employer contacts filed on the shelves, the Career Center also participates in a national job bank called JOBTRAK. Students can use the dynamic database by entering key words to view listings in their field, Upson said.

Individual schools and departments also help students find opportunities to work in their fields.

Lilian Sanchez, a senior physics major, found internships through the cooperative education office at the School of Engineering and Applied Science. The staff created a job opportunity for her at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, where she has worked for the past two years.

Sanchez said such an experience is essential to the educational process.

The experiences serve as a “window into what’s really happening out there . you learn by experiencing,” she said.

“I knew I should have experience before I graduated,” she said. “I don’t think companies hire people who don’t have any experience during college.”

Students also learn to conduct themselves in a mature manner when they interact with professionals, Sanchez said.

“It’s important that when you get your first job after graduation you are not spinning in your chair,” she said. “I am now more comfortable in a grown-up setting.”

She added she believes D.C. offers an abundance of opportunities, and not just in the political arena, because of a huge insurgence of technical companies that need workers, she said.

Clarke said her SMPA e-mails have helped several students find internships that resulted in jobs after graduation.

“(The e-mails) have caught on like wildfire,” she said.

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