The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

Opinion & Letters to the Editor

July 9, 2014

No substitute for experience

Tuesday, July 8, 2014 — According to a recent survey conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, last year employers made full-time job offers to 56.5 percent of their interns. Undeniably, with more and more professions requiring a mix of intellectual, technical, social and cultural skills, students will need as many opportunities as possible to gain exposure to workplace situations that test, apply and build upon the knowledge they acquire in the classroom.

At Pfeiffer University, we’re seeing efforts to integrate experiential learning into program curriculums beginning to make a difference for students and their post-graduation success. It’s happening through the concerted efforts of our faculty and Office of Career Development and the strong and lasting partnerships we are creating with local small and large businesses and nonprofit organizations.

For example, recent graduates from our human services and psychology programs were offered full-time positions after intensive internships with GHA Autism Supports in Albemarle. In at least one case, a student discovered a passion for working with adults with autism – something that might have remained unknown without this opportunity. Another student majoring in business management and leadership, who dreams of owning her own dental practice after becoming a dental hygienist, put in 240 hours of field work with Pfeiffer alumnus Mark Lassiter, D.D.S., ’91, to help implement an electronic recordkeeping system for his Norwood dental practice.

Another way we are expanding our ability to offer each student the opportunity to experience a variety of professional scenarios is to join eight other area colleges and universities (Belmont Abbey College, Catawba College, Gardner-Webb University, Johnson and Wales University, Lenoir-Rhyne University, Queens University, St. Andrews University and Wingate University) to form the Career Consortium of Metrolina Colleges. Among this group’s purposes is to plan a career fair in Charlotte next fall that will connect students to dozens of employers and graduate school representatives.

New evidence shows that the benefits of meaningful internships extend beyond graduation and landing one’s first job. The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that according to an alumni survey conducted by Worcester Polytechnic Institute, the greatest lessons of respondents’ internship experiences were about how to work in teams, manage projects, solve problems, learn on their own – and “develop a stronger personal character.”   

With employers nationwide indicating that the qualities they seek in new hires – in addition to content and technical expertise – are the abilities to think critically, work in diverse groups and communicate effectively, Pfeiffer is certainly positioning itself to produce graduates who are extremely marketable and able to demonstrate their value. Through an engaging and relevant classroom and campus experience and partnering with expert and caring local and regional collaborators interested in building a strong and talented workforce, we will deliver the Pfeiffer promise to our students and community.

Michael C. Miller, president of Pfeiffer University, shares information monthly in the SNAP about Pfeiffer’s programs and the ways the university is fulfilling its mission. To learn about Pfeiffer’s academic and athletic programs, strategic plan and community partnerships, contact him at (704) 463-3030; mike.miller@pfeiffer.edu or visit www.pfeiffer.edu.

 

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