January 30, 2013

Letter From The Editor

Value of Projects

For this semester, The Dickinsonian’s “Letters from the Editor” will focus on high-profile topics that center around Dickinson College and the surrounding community. This week, however, we will be running an un-published article written over the 2012 – 2013 Winter Break. Next week will begin our series of Dickinson-related opinion pieces.

In my second-to-last Letter from the Editor, I rambled about the value of joining a student-run club or organization while at Dickinson College. The logic behind my argument was that it’s good for your social life, it allows you to broaden your horizons, yada yada yada. While I still stand behind my previous points, I did want to take this space here to elaborate on the topic of college experiences a little bit more. Dickinson College requires you to do many, many things before you can get the diploma and walk down the carpet. But, on that long list, “getting an internship” isn’t present. Learning a language is, but not internships.

A college’s purpose, by my interpretation at least, is to prepare students for their lives outside of school. For those not gifted with fathers who invested in Microsoft, this inevitably means getting a job. Why shouldn’t we, amidst our classes on Poetry of Ancient Byzantine Rome and Advanced Trigonometry, start building up our résumés or polishing up on our employable skills?

Take Longwood University, for example. In a survey done two years ago, U.S. News examined how many students were employed after graduation. Of the 4,800 who graduated in its 2008 class, 74 percent were able to gain employment within six months of walking out of the small liberal arts college. Incidentally, Longwood University requires students to gain work experience through internships before they can graduate.

Now, say that you’re too busy to have an internship. But if you’re that busy, why not join a club? In the three years since I’ve joined the paper, I have covered a protest, published over 80 articles, learned how to use layout software, worked on balancing our organization’s budget and polished up my workplace social skills. All on top of draining up half of my free time.

Sounds a lot like a first job, doesn’t it?

Clubs and organizations, beyond their usual social benefits, can also provide students with the opportunity to polish their career skills for that deep plunge into the work force. Administrative positions within clubs provide a low-stress and low-risk environment for students to develop employable skills. You’d be surprised how much of the tedious paperwork and micromanagement that comes with being a club president translates into the real world.

In this slowly repairing job market, you’ll need every leg up possible to get you out in front of your peers. Getting a little bit of work under the belt will pay off, quite literally, in the long run.