Humanities at work interns present a final reflection

A new program coaches BW Humanities majors as they put their education to work for area employers, challenging stereotypes along the way.

BW’s Inaugural “Humanities at Work” Program Builds Career Connections

May 9, 2016

Five BW students are the first to complete a new program that empowers humanities majors to develop and apply career skills in the workplace. The inaugural “Humanities at Work” program, led by BW Career Services in collaboration with humanities faculty, is out to challenge the clichéd complaint that degrees in certain subjects have limited practical career application.

Humanities at work interns receive Career Services counseling and support“Humanities majors develop skills such as critical thinking and communication, which are highly prized by employers in virtually every field,” said Carmen Castro-Rivera, director of career services at BW. “These students just need to think more deeply about how they apply these strengths in the workplace.”

Paid Internships and Reflection

Students in the program, launched with a two-year grant from the Fenn Educational Fund of the Cleveland Foundation, participated in paid, for credit internships supported by a weekly course, taught by English professor Denise Kohn. The coursework was designed to encourage students to recognize and articulate the value of their chosen majors in the workplace. 

The process of working, reflecting, journaling and sharing their experiences with each other was eye-opening for the students, who also received a resume review, mock interviews and other targeted support from Career Services.

Applying English to Marketing and More

Humanities at work interns present a final reflection At a recent culminating event for interns and employers, English major Mikayla Canterbury ’16 observed, “I had no idea I would like working in marketing.” The Brunswick, Ohio native spent the semester interning with Cross Country Mortgage in Brecksville.

English: Creative Writing major Margaret Currie ’18 of Parma, interned with Ann Newman, CEO of Ronald McDonald House Charities of Northeastern Ohio, Inc. in Independence. (The two are pictured with “Ronald McDonald” at an event featuring the Ronald McDonald Care Mobile dental program partnership with University Hospitals Health System.) 

Humanities at work intern Margaret Currie with Ronald McDonald and her boss Ann NewmanCurrie found “working for purpose, not profit, really rewarding.” In addition to event planning and social media management, Currie drew on her major to generate web features, including a grant recipient story told through eyes of a van that ferries children with physical challenges to sports and recreation activities.

“Sometimes I feel the stamp of mud from their nature walks and horseback rides, a spritz of water from their water adventures, or a bit of snow from a ski trip as I transport my precious cargo where they need to go…”

“This program taught me how to better relate my skills to the job market,” Currie said. “I see how my skills and passions relate and how I could communicate this to a future employer.”

Employers Value Core Competencies

Currie has impressed her current internship employer, who is keeping her on the payroll at least through the summer. “Liberal arts majors like Margaret have a breadth of academic exposure that means they are not one dimensional,” Newman said. “I find that to be extremely valuable in a multi-faceted workplace.”

Helping more employers to recognize that value is another mission of Humanities at Work, which features workshops to teach employers how to write “competency-based” job descriptions.

“Many employers recognize that they miss out on talent when they list specific majors and leave out the liberal arts in job postings,” said Elizabeth Wilson, BW career advisor, the program assistant. “Competency-based job descriptions emphasize the skills, knowledge and behaviors of the worker over the major. That encourages career growth and success.”   

Students in the Pipeline

In addition to Currie and Canterbury, the initial Humanities at Work class also included English major Sara Boehm ’17 of Avon, Ohio, who interned at Lutheran West High School in Rocky River; History and Physics double major Kristi Cornett  ’16 of Oberlin, who worked for the Cleveland-based Classroom Antics, and Leadership Development major Allison Tura ’18 of Springboro, Ohio who spent the semester with St. Paul Lutheran Church in Berea.

A second cohort of nine students, facilitated by BW Communication Studies faculty, has already been selected to enroll in the Humanities at Work course in the fall 2016 semester. 

Related Story: BW In the News

BW finance and economics double major, Brianna Rippin '17 and her professor, Dr. Kevin Jacques, talk about the value of internship experiences in Salt Lake City's Deseret News. Rippin will be interning this summer as a quantitative analyst intern at Progressive Insurance.