The Importance of an Internship Component in a Liberal Arts Major

Article excerpt

Abstract

Allowing students to gain knowledge outside the classroom enables them to use their liberal arts background of logic, ethics, sociology, history, and literature and apply it to their chosen field. This is usually what is meant by being liberally educated. In keeping with this philosophy, a new Communications major was developed with an internship component as a requirement. With the rising popularity of the Communications major, an internship database was developed to assist students in securing work-study. The development of the major, the database, and the role, significance and success of the internship are discussed.

Introduction

Pace University is a private university made up of six undergraduate and graduate schools and colleges--The Dyson College of Arts and Sciences, The Lienhard School of Nursing, The Lubin School of Business, The School of Computer Science and Information Systems, The School of Education, and the Law School. The environments of Pace are richly varied. There are two distinct campuses--The New York city campus situated in the heart of Manhattan's Wall Street district and the Westchester County campus which embodies both the Lubin Graduate Center and Law School in White Plains, New York, a thriving business community, and the small town Pleasantville/Briarcliff campus.

Pace is situated in the heart of a community which has a number of institutions requiring Communications professionals such as CBS News, MTV, MSNBC, 1010 WINS AM radio, and Conde Nast Publications all offering internships. Young people expect jobs or career changes more often than did their parents. Many see education in life-long habits of learning as the better preparation for working in an economy and a society in flux. The hallmarks of Dyson College and its learning balances address these expectations directly. A bold articulation and implementation of these balances will draw such students to Dyson College, increasing and stabilizing enrollment of the University as a whole. A degree from Pace University, known for excellence in arts and sciences and sensitivity to career imperatives, will be seen as more attractive, expansive, relevant and progressive if students take advantage of all that Pace offers them.

With the multimedia trend increasing, the expectancy is for communication professionals to be experts in the technology wave of the future and understand how to effectively communicate using the new tools that are available. An internship in this field would offer the expertise needed to venture into this new technology and will provide the relevant background skills. An internship of 3-6 credits has recently become a requirement for the major in Communications. Previously, students were encouraged, not required to take an internship. Because of this new requirement, it has been necessary to develop a structured and standardized system for supplying students with the information necessary to apply for, interview, and evaluate the internship. A system was also created to monitor and direct the student while he or she is working away from the classroom.

Development of the Communications Major

Popularity of the Communications Major

According to the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Outlook Handbook, jobs in the Communications field will increase between 21 and 35 percent by 2008. The career options available to a student with a Communications degree are many and varied. Due to the growth and changes in the Communications industry, Pace University Pleasantville faculty felt it was important to create a stand-alone Communications major. Prior to Fall 2000, the Communications major had been paired with an English major. Mirroring the industry occupational outlook, the Communications major at Pace has seen a steady increase in enrollment since its implementation. During the first year of the Communications major (2000), enrollment was 60 students. …