During InteRDom’s Annual Review, an event organized yearly by Global Foundation for Democracy and Development (GFDD) and Fundación Global Democracia y Desarrollo(FUNGLODE), which seeks to elicit debate concerning global trends in the areas of training, management and human resource development, Lisa Stephenson, Director of the Graduate Student Career Development Center at George Washington University, provided recommendations on how universities and employers can aid students in maximizing internship experiences. The event took place March 26, 2008 at FUNGLODE Headquarters in Santo Domingo.
According to Stephenson, being aware of the reasons for wanting an internship is just as important as knowing how to obtain one. The career development specialist maintained that both issues should be considered by students and addressed by academic institutions.
She ascertained that not all students comprehend the value of an internship, stressing that both the host organization and the university should ensure that the students are aware of the benefits and future implications of the experience.
“Before accepting an internship, the student should ask whether or not the employment opportunity will sincerely be beneficial, whether it will offer the opportunity to present a tangible project, or in the end, obtain some form of recognition,” she affirmed.
The career development center director also advised potential employers to be up-front about the nature of the work the interns will be carrying-out, stating: “If part of the job includes stuffing envelopes, indicate this from the beginning, because if you tell the interns that they will be conducting research, but in reality they will be preparing mailings, they will feel deceived. Offer feedback concerning work performance and opportunities to re-do work if it does not fulfill expectations. Also make sure to include them in meetings that concern company employees.”
Furthermore, she recommended that employers explain work procedures in detail, emphasizing that although the work may seem trivial, certain aspects might not appear obvious to someone lacking experience in the area. She also insisted that companies ensure that interns are provided with adequate work space and equipment so that they can accomplish the assignments requested of them. According to Stephenson, if possible, payment or assistance should be offered in exchange for quality work.
She explained how the Elliot School for International Affairs’ Graduate Student Career Development Center requests that students compile Professional Development Action Plans (PDAPs), documents that detail how students will maximize the resources available to them at the university, and how they will market their qualifications in order to develop professional capacities. It is a way for the center to help students actualize their proposed goals.
The employment expert pointed out that students also need to learn how to present their resumes. She added that cover letters should be adapted to the positions the students are applying to, and that university advisors should review and critique drafts and provide constructive feedback.
The Elliot School of Academic Affairs offers workshops throughout the year to help students devise resumes and cover letters, and improve interviewing skills.
InteRDom offers students the opportunity to gain professional experience by interning with Dominican organizations and businesses related to their field of study, and taking courses and seminars at local universities. The program significantly contributes to the development of the nation’s employment sector and the advancement of academic research.
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