Hands-on opportunities have always been at the heart of a Hiram College liberal arts education. The College’s commitment to ensuring every student graduates with some type of real-world experience is growing with Hiram Connect.
The College is forging partnerships with area businesses to create new opportunities and Heather Balas, M.A., director of career and academic development at Hiram, is showing employers how relationships with the College can be mutually valuable.
“The largest benefit for businesses and the College is new internship opportunities – especially local ones that are easiest for students to work while still taking classes during the academic year,” she says.
Senior communication major Jenelle Bayus, of Cortland, Ohio, spearheaded one of these opportunities through her work as a social media and communications intern at the Monica Potter Home in Garrettsville during summer 2015. Cleveland native and “Parenthood” actress Monica Potter launched this project when she bought her childhood home as a means for local artisans and craftspeople to produce a line of home goods and beauty essentials.
Bayus worked on a number of projects and played a variety of roles throughout her internship, and has continued her work throughout the academic year. Her education as a communication major assisted her as she developed the home’s social media presence and interacted with customers in the store.
Bayus, who plans to attend law school, says her Hiram liberal arts education has
taught that all knowledge is valuable, and that the skills she learned through her internship will translate well into her future career as a lawyer.
“My internship allowed me to build a solid skill base that I can apply to any career,” she says. “I learned how to work with a team, in a fast-paced environment, and to communicate in a positive manner with individuals inside and outside of the company.”
Balas says a liberal arts education has a strong influence on a student’s work ethic and employer satisfaction.
“The Hiram liberal arts curriculum develops those soft skills that employers want, like strong communication skills, the ability to work as a team,” she says. “Some of those things are really well developed at a small, private liberal arts school, because it’s a more intimate setting.”
Thanks to funding from the Great Lakes Higher Education Guaranty Corp., Hiram College can partner with organizations and pay students for their internships with grant money. The College first received the corporation’s Career Ready Internship Grant in 2014, and it was renewed in 2015, establishing funds for 195 internships for Hiram students through 2018. Having this money accessible allows Hiram College to partner with organizations that would previously not be able to pay interns, to establish a pipeline of internships for Hiram students. In 2014-2015, 49 Hiram interns were placed at organizations including Case Western Reserve University’s School of Medicine, the office of Congressman Dave Joyce (R, OH-14th District), Lake County Metroparks Farmpark, Mahoning Valley Scrappers minor league baseball team, American Golf Corp. and many others.