By Randall Cartwright | Guest Contributor
Before Baylor students enter the workforce with a college degree in hand, they can seek out internship opportunities that will give previews of careers in their respective fields.
“One thing that internships allow you to do is network and develop those soft skills,” Daniel Shallcross, clinical associate professor of accounting, said. “It really thrusts you into the real world from a soft skills perspective.”
The basic idea of an internship is consistent across the university, but departments take different approaches that give students the chance to find opportunities fitted to their field of study.
In addition to teaching, Shallcross serves as the director of accounting internships and career development. He oversees the accounting department’s annual recruiting process for accounting students seeking internships. He said the process is relationship-based rather than simply applying and interviewing for jobs over a short period.
“Typically, students start the fall semester of their junior year, they start the accounting core,” Shallcross said. “Recruiting starts at that point in time of just building relationships with public accounting firms.”
The accounting department hosts networking events starting in the fall and extending through the spring. Resume workshops, mock interviews and career fairs help students network with professionals and decide which firms they want to apply to.
Once students apply and interview, they are given the chance to attend social events with firms they have received offers from. The events are a chance for a firm to convince students why their offer is the best available.
“That can look like a casino night with food,” Shallcross said. “That could look like just going to dinner. That could look like ax throwing. They can do whatever activities that Waco offers.”
By the time the process finishes at the end of the semester, accounting students have accepted internship offers and gained networking experience in a professional setting.
The School of Music’s process provides opportunities for their students as well, in both internal and external environments. External employment positions arise from partnerships with local organizations in the Waco community. The Waco Symphony offers auditions and contracted positions to brass, wind, string and percussion students seeking experience.
“It’s a professional situation that they are being hired for, but only because they are music students within the School of Music,” Dr. Michael Alexander, associate professor of music education, said.
Choral students can get involved with local churches. The music faculty helps local churches find students who best fit their current needs.
“Generally, the churches will contact us,” Alexander said. “They will contact one of the choir directors or the division of ensembles director and say, ‘We’re looking for some choral scholars, and we need a soprano, an alto, a tenor and a bass.’”
Faculty members can then recommend students who meet the requirements and have expressed interest.
For music education majors, a student teaching internship is woven into their degree plan. An entire semester is devoted to teaching students through internship-type positions, Alexander said. He did student teaching while completing his undergraduate degree.
“Student teaching is the granddaddy of all internships,” Alexander said. “When I actually became a teacher the next year, it was like, ‘Well OK, I’ve done this. It’s not my first year as a teacher.’ The internship was more of a shock than the teaching was.”
The School of Education also uses student teaching to equip its students for a teaching career. Graduate student Jordan Ng was involved with local schools for a portion of her undergraduate degree.
“The way it works for the School of Education is they have field experiences,” Ng said. “Six of the eight semesters, you get to go into the schools, and your formal internship is your senior year. You don’t take any classes, and you’re full time placed in the classroom.”
Education students have the chance to intern within the Waco and Midway school districts. Internships are incorporated into the degree plan and are advertised to students. Ng was placed in a second-grade classroom in Midway ISD for her senior internship. She said the experience gave her a feel for teaching different subjects and also let her see everything that happens in school daily.
“It’s not like you have your own classroom, but my mentor teacher would leave me often, so then it’s like you have your own experiences,” Ng said. “It’s very tangible versus what you learn.”
Ng said she believes getting involved in internships is important.
“You can only do so much while you’re in the college bubble,” Ng said. “I think it’s cool that you can also bring experiences back to Baylor.”