Career Center helps to ‘learn by doing’

By Omar Mir

Internships are the holy grail of the college experience. Valued
both as resume boosters and mechanisms for personal growth,
internships are almost a rite of passage at Cal Poly Pomona. Many
programs require the student to complete an internship in order to
receive a degree.

Because of this demand, Dawn Finley, job location development
coordinator at the Career Center, held an internship workshop on
Thursday, titled “Your Turn to Intern.” The workshop detailed the
internship process, from applications and interviews to the
internship

itself.

“An internship is a designed learning environment,” said Finley.
“The company or institution works with the student to help them
learn.”

Student concerns ranged from appropriate attire to the personal
benefits of interning. While most protocol is obvious, such as
dressing formally and making eye contact, others are less so.
Wearing perfume or cologne is not recommended for interviewees,
while

resume design should accommodate technologies such as the
electronic eyes many companies use to select potential interns.

But a secured internship is a major milestone for a college
student. Internships give students an opportunity to apply their
knowledge in a work environment and to determine what niche they
belong in, a process which Finley believes to be crucial. Interns
may

learn as much about themselves as they do about their field.

“I’ve had students who have worked at Fortune 500 companies and
panicked, only to later find their niche,” Finley said.

But the importance of internships does not lie solely in
personal development. Interns are more marketable, with 85 percent
of companies hiring from a selection of interns. Interns also tend
to receive better starting salaries, making 40 percent more than
those

without previous experience.

With such results, the competition to secure an internship is
fierce, and may be daunting to first-time interns.

“You’re competing against older people who already have
experience,” said Marco Guzman, a fifth-year chemical engineering
student. “You want to make sure you tailor your resume to make it
appealing to employers.”

Luckily, the resources available to CPP students are vast.
Career Center employees are available to edit student resumes and
students with upcoming interviews can schedule mock interviews with
the staff. The Career Center even has a stock of formal attire to
loan

out to students who can’t afford it.

Student resources are by no means limited to the Career Center,
however. Internships are available online, ranging from the local
San Gabriel Valley Economic Partnership, or SGVEP, to positions
with the World Health Organization in Switzerland.
Resume-building

workshops and services are common, encouraging students to keep
track of goals and accomplishments.

Such programs fit with CPP’s “learn by doing” philosophy.
However, schedule conflicts can be a major concern for aspiring
interns at CPP. CPP is one of the relatively few institutions using
the quarter system. Companies providing internships are accustomed
to the

semester system and may require students to finish their quarters
early to accommodate internships.

Finley believes the foremost of a potential intern’s tools is
passion.

“What employers are looking for are interest and passion,” she
said. “Even if you get nervous during interviews, employers will
overlook it if you have passion.”

Dawn Finley

Caity Hansen / The Poly Post

Dawn Finley

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