Experiential learning has always been at the heart of a Hiram College education. When students’ complete internships, they integrate knowledge and theory learned in the classroom with practical application. They gain valuable experience and make connections in professional fields they are considering for career paths. And, with Hiram’s newly implemented tuition model, those internships are paid, thanks to generous donors.  

The Generous Donor Internship Fund at Hiram College was created to support students’ experiential learning through internships. The funds enable internships to be converted to fully paid experiences, empowering students to participate in hands-on opportunities and be fairly compensated for their work 

For summer 2020, the Hiram College Career Center has provided 40 students summer internship funding, totaling almost $120,000Several of the internships are hosted by various departments on campus, including Tech and Trek, Hiram’s 1:1 mobile technology program, the Library, Athletics Department, Information Technology, and the Office of College Relations. Many departments were able to transition internships to remote internships, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Kaitlyn Pongracz ’21, is a marketing and communications intern with the Office of College Relations. As a marketing major, aspiring to have a career in pharmaceutical or medical equipment sales, Pongracz is using the opportunity to learn more about her field of study and explore different possibilities  

“My internship is focused on the digital and social media aspect of marketing and communications, as well as compiling news stories and other features for the College’s website,” says Pongracz. The tasks I complete daily are helping to build a foundation for my future career in the sales world. I am looking forward to learning more this summer about web design and strategies for effective social media marketing.” 

The Career Center has also been working with several off-campus employers to forge relationships and create new opportunities for students. Business hosting internships for Hiram College students include Writers in Residence, The Borgen Project, The Betsy Rader Campaign, Wildman Family Insurance, The Talking Farm, Education Matters, TRG Multimedia, Worksite Medical, Maple Leaf Veterinary Service, and The Charles Group.  

Looking to pursue a career as a physician assistant, Katy Breland ’21, is completing an internship at Worksite Medical, an occupational medicine clinic. Breland is a biomedical humanities major at Hiram College and she is using the opportunity to learn how to perform physical examinations and diagnose patients. Under full supervision, she even routinely performs some of the testing and vitals needed for the exam. The job also entails some travel––visiting nursing homes and other companies to perform physical examinations, and fit N-95 masks and full-face masks for those who may come into contact with COVID-19.  

“I hope to learn as much as I can about the field of occupational medicine,” says Breland. “The opportunity is teaching me to be more comfortable with patients, as well as an overall awareness of what it entails to be a Physician Assistant. I am enjoying every bit of this internship and will continue to follow my dreams of becoming a PA.” 

Once a student has secured an internship, they are required to meet with a professional staff member in the Career Center to begin the application process for funding from the Generous Donor Internship Fund. The application includes a Hiram Connect learning agreement, an internship job description, a letter of support from their faculty advisor, a requested dollar amount, and an acceptance letter from their summer internship employer. After a student has been approved for internship funding, they are required to complete two online learning modules: Effective Professional Messaging and First Impressions and Personal Branding. 

“My hope is that students begin to build a foundation of skills that will serve them in their career over the long term. Even if their career path leads them in a direction unrelated to their current internship, they will develop skills that are valuable in whatever field they choose,” says Craig Wilkinson, assistant director of career and academic development. 

Learn more about internships at Hiram College here 

by Jenelle Bayus

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