By Erich Kaletka
Some students begin to fret over summer internships as soon as the weather turns from crisp to downright bone-chilling. Intense competition for internships only adds to students’ stress levels, despite most positions being unpaid. Kenyon and its Career Development Office (CDO) offer many services and forms of assistance, including résumé and cover letter proof-readings and mock interviews, as well as access to the Kenyon Career Network — which consists of over 6,000 alumni members — for students who wish to apply for a variety of internships. Students can gain 0.13 units of academic credit from internships if they take a class offered through the CDO that meets four times during the spring semester. Students may take the class up to three times, according to the Kenyon website.
The class is listed under the subject EXP, with a full title of “Experiential Learning 205: Connecting Academic and Intern Experiences.” Scott Layson, the director of the CDO and the course’s instructor, wrote in an email to the Collegian that “the EXPL 205 class is a preparatory course that prepares students to both look for internships and design/write learning plans to accompany any internship.
“The primary utility of the course is to satisfy the credit requirement some internships have,” he wrote. “The course also prepares students to write a reflection paper at the end of the internship. … Completion of the course, internship, and reflection paper is required in order to receive credit.”
Students are not required to go through the CDO when they do internships, but the CDO likes to know how students spend their summers and sends out an email at the end of each summer in an attempt to find out how many students have done internships. According to Leslie Harding, assistant director of career development, students are not required to report their internships to the College, so there isn’t an exact count of how many students participate in these experiences. The number of students who receive academic credit for internship experiences was not released to the Collegian due to the office’s attempt to maintain neutrality on the subject.
Emily Sussman ’15, an art history major from New York City, has had three internship experiences over the past two summers, all of them related to museum work and the visual arts. This summer she worked a full-time, 10-week unpaid job at the Whitney Museum of American Art. Sussman did not use the CDO or any other Kenyon services to find her internships, saying, “If you’re outside the specialty areas of the CDO it’s hard for them to [hand] you an internship,” she said. “They can still help you, I assume, but you also have to do the research yourself. I think it’s all a dual process.”
Sussman said she would have liked to gain academic credit for her internships, but she wasn’t aware that taking a class was a possibility to do so .
Eric Chu ’17 interned this past summer at Education Superhighway, “a non-profit that provides consultation to state education departments to arm them with the information to upgrade their Internet infrastructure,” according to Chu. Chu, like Sussman, said he didn’t use the CDO to find or apply for his internship, but he was aware of the services they offered and described himself as “comforted by the fact that these resources were available, despite the fact that [he] didn’t use them.” Chu was also unaware of the possibility to earn academic credit from his internship.
For the numerous services the CDO offers, academic credit for internships among them, many students do not know how to take advantage of the office. The recent integration of the CDO with the Office of the Provost may serve to remedy this disconnect, but for now the responsibility is up to students.