The Experience, Career & Internships
February 24, 2015
As a transfer student getting used to Connecticut College, "New" is a big part of my vocabulary: a new school, new schedule, new professors and new jobs. I am fortunate enough not only to work as a blogger for The Experience, but also as an office assistant for the College's Academic Resource Center (ARC).
I absolutely love working at the ARC because of all the new faces I get to meet. Students stop by for tutoring sessions and to become tutors themselves. They stop by to meet with academic counselors about time management skills, to get presentation advice, to polish their interviewing skills and to get papers edited. All a student has to do is ask for some help or advice and, with that, a tsunami of support will eagerly rush in.
As a student staff member of the ARC, I reap the benefits of working around the informative professional staff. For me, like many college students, procrastination haunts my good intentions of studying. Sometimes when I sit down to study, something averts my focus from homework, like Netflix, a nap or sounds from down the hallway.
While in the office recently, I asked Chris Colbath, a learning specialist and coordinator in the Center, for a simple tip to improve my study habits. His No. 1 piece of advice was to learn how to prioritize. He said that you should do your assignments based on which deadline comes first. Most importantly, he advised me to do homework outside of my dorm room. There are so many distractions (like sleeping and computers) in the our rooms that removing ourselves to the library or other spaces on campus will help remove temptations.
Taking the advice to heart, I decided to implement all of his suggestions. I have been prioritizing my work better and doing much more of my homework in library spaces. Not surprisingly, the amount of work I get done is astronomical in comparison.
February 16, 2015
You guys, my binder has become kind of an issue.
It's not ugly or anything; it's a plain blue one, with the syllabi and notes and doodles from all my classes clasped securely within it. It's a regular binder. But every time I open it, I want to shuck off this winter coat, put on some short shorts, and just talk to people from all over the world. The shorts just come with the territory. My binder is giving me serious wanderlust.
To be fair, it's not the binder's fault; it's the syllabi and the classes I'm taking. There's a prominent global theme amongst my studies this semester, not a surprise to those who know I'll be studying abroad next semester.
Still, the theme of courses was partially happenstance. Let me share some examples: Yesterday, I watched "Lagaan" for my Bollywood and Globalization class, after which I read about Muslim women writers in the early 20th century for my Global Islamic Studies class, after which I chose my presentation topic for my Theorizing Race and Ethnicity class, which has a specific focus on Latin America. In four hours, I covered South Asia, the Middle East and Latin America.
Not to mention that one of my other classes, Global Queer Histories, is metaphorically travelling through various regions of the globe to analyze queer history, traditions and prejudice. We started with the Middle East and we're moving on to Native American two-spirit traditions next week.
Oh, and I must mention my CISLA class, a required course for scholars like myself who were admitted into the Toor Cummings Center for International Studies and the Liberal Arts, one of the College's five centers for interdisciplinary scholarship. That course is giving me an entirely new experience: a rotation of different experiences every two weeks, from departments like geology, art and classics.
All these travel thoughts permeate my mind and I end up daydreaming half the time, reading intensely the other half. Is it a wonder, then, that my binder stresses me out? It's got half the world in it, and I couldn't be happier.
Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go finish a non-fiction piece about Puerto Rico for my narrative non-fiction class. Wanderlust has seeped into everything.
February 7, 2015
One of the great things about college — besides the interesting classes, independence, etc. — is the time off. It's the epitome of the "work hard, play hard" saying. After short periods of intensive study, there are so many ways to spend our month off in winter and three months off in the summer, from internships to traveling. For me, I received the good news that I was accepted into Connecticut College’s Toor Cummings Center for International Studies and the Liberal Arts, or CISLA. The goal of this center is to internationalize one’s major. Mine being history, my research proposal involves studying art that was produced under the strict censorship policies of Franco’s dictatorship in Spain, exploring topics such as propaganda as art and “cultural wastelands.” So next year, I will be studying and interning abroad in Spain. This means, however, that I have to get my Spanish in gear. My favorite part of the program is its emphasis on language learning, which inspired my recent trip to Guatemala.
Not having spoken Spanish in about a year, it's safe to say my language skills were pretty rusty. So for winter break, I headed off to Don Pedro de Alvarado language school in Antigua, Guatemala. Trying to play catch up, I studied for six hours a day with two different tutors. Contrary to what you might think, the time flew by, especially since the emphasis of my one-on-one tutoring was conversational skills. Every day, I simply spoke with my teachers about my life, their lives, and everything else in between. By the end, I can safely say they became more than just my teachers, they became my friends. They would take me around the city and show me cool art galleries, restaurants and church ruins. My afternoon teacher, Lidia, and I even took a day trip to El Lago de Atitlan. A three-hour trip on Guatemala’s famous “chicken buses,” the day was certainly an experience, from riding on a boat across a beautiful lake to having the man who was sitting next to me on the bus try to baptize me.
During my time in Antigua, I was staying with la familia Darce Pineda, my host family. I was one of five students staying with the family. The atmosphere was so warm that all of us were truly welcomed into the family — from attending their 3-year-old son Renecito’s birthday party to supporting them at their gigs (they are a family of musicians). The picture at the top left of this post is the view from their house’s terrace. In the background, el Volcan de Fuego (the volcano of fire) is erupting. Not to worry — it wasn’t a major eruption, but it is highly active and spurts smoke and ash on a daily basis. Pretty cool, huh? The second photo is of me and some fellow students at the top of Pecaya, another nearby active volcano we climbed one Saturday. While Pecaya is also not majorly active, we did get to roast marshmallows over lava. Yes, I know it sounds a little far-fetched, but really it did happen. It was also probably the best smore ever. While the lava has cooled and hardened, there are cracks that run though it, exposing hot coals exactly the same as what we would see in a dying fire, making for the perfect place to roast a marshmallow.
If I were to ever give advice to a college student, it would be to take advantage of all the time off. It gives us a freedom to study, travel and explore in a way that a full-time job does not. I got to connect my studies at school with an incredible culture opportunity. My Spanish improved greatly, I can happily say I feel more prepared for CISLA, and I got to have some cool adventures along the way.
January 7, 2015
The College's Roth Writing Center offers free peer tutoring on papers and drafts for all students on campus. One becomes a tutor after being recommended to Professor Steven Shoemaker, the director of the center, after which there is an interview, a callback and a class offered in the Fall called "The Teaching of Writing." It's a 300-level English seminar. I was recommended last year by two professors, and went for my interview. (I wore my brightest paisley shirt, in an effort to be memorable.) Since English is not my first language, I want to help other non-native English speakers feel empowered through writing. I'm taking the seminar now, and as the semester winds down, the writing center is in need for more tutors. So the week before Thanksgiving, I had my first appointment. I was to tutor for the first time, finally, after the long, long process. I walked into the center five minutes early, set up my folder, took out my pen, and waited.
My first student was a first-year student who needed help with his first-year seminar. The center works this way: We ask the students to read their paper or draft out loud. If the student isn't comfortable reading aloud, we'll read it for them. The motto is to make sure the student is in the driver's seat; the tutor is a road guide, a map to the destination that the student must find themselves. I took notes as he read.
Collaborating with the tutee, working on problems, is a huge part of the job. The goal is to nudge, to prod students in a direction where their own thinking gets expanded, and to give them ideas, not to impose. This is hard for me; I love imposing myself on people most of the time. I have a specific way in which I do things, and this makes me a bit stubborn sometimes. I had to reign that in super hard when I was tutoring, and the results were a clear indication that this was the right philosophy. The student left with a better understanding of the paper, his assignment and what he might do better.
I left with an understanding of my own role in this, which is — and should be — minimal. I left with a better understanding of how my professors must feel when students don't understand what they're trying to do. Their job is hard. A teacher doesn't teach knowledge, I discovered. They teach the process of knowledge. The knowledge must be acquired oneself. I left knowing that our jobs as students are also hard: We have to come to conclusions ourselves, with the road map of learning in front of us. The destination is ours to conquer. This is a responsibility I felt heavy on my shoulders as I walked out, but it gave me more incentive to learn vicariously. If I'm being trusted as a student to make my own contribution, the responsibility also gave me agency. And students need agency to learn creatively. Most of all, I left with a giant amount of respect for this learning environment. If one doesn't take responsibility for one's own learning, everything falls apart. You can flourish or you can fail. The decision is in your hands, and that's kind of liberating. It means you're taken seriously. That's the path to adulthood, not regurging knowledge. It felt good to know.
January 2, 2015
The Sophomore Research Seminar I'm taking this semester has been rife with interactive learning. Titled "Visioning the Invisible," the course focuses on secrecy, power and privilege as it relates to studio art and art history. It's funded by the Mellon Mays foundation and two professors, Denise Pelletier from Studio Art and Chris Steiner from Art History, teach it together. Already this semester, we've had a magician in our class and a professor from UConn talking about surveillance and pornography. We've also been working on small projects that will add up to a larger research paper/studio art project that we submit at the end of the semester. The best part of the seminar was, no doubt, a trip to New York City to look at "invisible" or "secret" art; I've been excited for this trip for a while.
We gathered outside Cummings Art Center at 8 a.m. on a Saturday to catch a bus to the city; our first stop was the Museum of Sex, curated by Sarah Forbes, who happens to be a Connecticut College graduate. The many exhibitions on display included one about non-heterosexual behavior amongst animals, chastity devices from the 19th century, and a critical look at Linda Lovelace (the first mainstream pornstar) and her involvement in the anti-pornography movement.
The most interesting exhibition, to me, was an interactive one, where spectators had to walk inside a mirror maze and climb a wall, where instead of rocks, one had to grab various human body parts (made of foam, of course). After we were finished at the museum, we went for lunch (generously paid for by the Mellon Mays foundation) in Chinatown, where we met "Inspector Collector" artist Harley Spiller, who collects and exhibits take-out menus, coins and plastic spoons, finding the beauty in the ordinary. We talked to him about the history of Chinatown and visited what was once a place where rival Chinese gangs used to fight each other in the early 20th century.
We also visited the Mmmuseumm, which is a museum built in an abandoned elevator in Chinatown; the museum itself is kind of secretive and only known to those told about it. It houses a collection of forgotten art objects: soil from Auschwitz, plastic spoons from the '70s, kitsch art objects that were not remembered. I spoke with the person there; everybody volunteers to work there, and has other jobs. It's a collection of fairly young college graduates who hope to make seen the unseen.
We ended with a trip to the art supply store and various bookstores, where both Denise Pelletier, my professor, and I gushed over art supplies. We got back to campus around 10 p.m., exhausted, but filled with knowledge. Not only was this great for my class, it gave me a chance to get to know my professors a little better, go to secret places I would never have discovered otherwise, and explore, in life, art. One can't truly study art without being in its presence, and I'm glad to have taken a class that understands and reinforces that. It was a pretty fantastic experiences.
November 12, 2014
As the two senior staff members of The College Voice, Connecticut College's student newspaper, Editor-in-Chief Ayla Zuraw-Friendland '15 and I attended the American Collegiate Press' annual National College Media Conference. This conference allowed us to meet journalism students and professors (as well as many professional journalists) and gave us new insight into how we can continue to improve all aspects of The College Voice.
November 10, 2014
I'll admit, my title is a little misleading. Restaurant proprietor and College Trustee David Barber '88 and Sean Barrett, co-founder of Dock to Dish, hosted a discussion about what they envision as the ideal future of the fishing industry in the United States. While they both explained what they are working toward — fostering a culture of sustainable fisheries — what stood out to me was the appalling state of the current system of commercial fishing. David gave an explanation of how, due to tariffs and working costs, it's cheaper for a company to fish in local East Coast waters, freeze and ship the fish to China for processing, and ship the fish back to the United States, than it is to process in the same region where the fish was caught. Even with all this travel, the fish can still be legally called "locally caught." It's certainly reassuring for me to know that people like David and Sean are working to change this model by supporting and buying directly from fishermen who prepare the fish in the same local waters from which the animals are found.
November 1, 2014
“Hey, is it alright if we call our professor in here?”
After hearing that odd request in the late hours of the night, I continued working on my homework in one of the Cummings Art Center classrooms, sharing the study space with others. Promptly, three girls began video chatting with their art history professor in preparation for a test. They spent the next hour asking questions and having a conversation with the professor.
I had never met these students, but I found it interesting to overhear their deeply intellectual conversation. It was not surprising that a professor put such effort into helping students better understand the subject.
This summer, as I was interning in New York City at a boutique public relations firm, I ran into a past professor of mine, Sunil Bhatia, in the middle of Manhattan and we ended up grabbing a cup of coffee during my lunch break. He was able to provide helpful advice as I continued my internship. Recently, he wrote a recommendation on my behalf for my study abroad application to Milan.
Professors, it seems, have a way of helping to challange and educate students, regarless of where you might run into them or how you might communicaticate with them.
October 22, 2014
September 26, 2014
As a sophomore, I'll soon need to declare my major. At the beginning of this year — only three weeks ago — I was panicking, trying to pinpoint an answer to the question, "What interests you?" Before the summer started, I thought I had my plans worked out but, suddenly, I wasn't so sure. When I began to feel unsure about the path I was taking, I turned to almost every professor I had ever connected with. I received incredible support, and I'm again confident in my next steps.
Professor of Physics Leslie Brown had some great advice for me. She listened to my concerns about my challenges with physics. I had begun to feel that lab work, which lacks communication, was too dull and the classroom felt too conventional. “Doc” Brown suggested that I continue to minor in astronomy but think about self-designing a major that incorporates multiple areas of physics and science education, which made me think further about the possibility of also pursuing the Museum Studies Certificate program. I quickly set up an appointment with the program's director, Professor Chris Steiner, and he welcomed the idea of a science-oriented person joining the program. Doc Brown and Professor Steiner also connected me with staff at the Treworgy Planetarium at the Mystic Seaport, only a few miles away, so I could include practical work into my self-designed education.
In a matter of weeks, I have gone from panic to excitement, feeling like I once again have a strong path to follow. At the moment, it looks like the education plan I'm developing will include a self-designed major in science education, a minor in astronomy and a certificate in museum studies, along with volunteer work at the planetarium. With help from my professors, I've bent the definition of museum studies and altered the stereotypical path of a science student to fit my own interests in a hands-on and unconventional way.
April 18, 2014
Last Wednesday, I woke up at 5:20 a.m., destined for the United Nations headquarters in New York City. Giddy with fatigue and excitement, a group of us from Knowlton House met in the foyer and jaunted over to our bus, complementing one another on our business-casual attire on the way.
I sat with my friend Leela. Both French fanatics, we chatted in French as we ate a breakfast of bagels, muffins and croissants. A snooze and a few traffic jams later, we arrived at the United Nations.
We first entered the building for the United States mission to the U.N. There, we met with Alexis Wichowski, a Connecticut College alumna from the Class of 1993. She transitioned from a Chinese major in college to a graduate program in information technology to a job at the U.N. related to IT diplomacy. She also works as a professor at Columbia University. In addition to describing her career path, she quizzed us on the U.N. How many member states compose the U.N.? 193! When was the U.N. founded? 1945! She insisted we understand the U.N. as a collection of entities that include its six deliberative councils and non-governmental organizations among others.
Isaac, an intern at the U.S. mission to the U.N., left us with a final note: “Don’t start at the bottom, start at the top.”
Some people took Isaac’s advice when attacking the buffet at the Delegates Dining Hall, starting with dessert and ending with lunch. No matter our dining approach, we ate more like kings and queens than like delegates.
Fortunately, a grand tour of the U.N. helped us work off the decadence. A Swedish tour guide led our group, which pleased Julia, a Swedish Conn student studying human rights and the media. Our guide showed us the rooms where the General Assembly and other branches of the U.N. convene. In fact, we witnessed the Economic and Social Council in action!
We also had time to engage in conversation with delegates while visiting the Iranian Mission to the U.N. After an informational video and some Iranian snacks, we showered the Iranian delegates with questions: How does Iran portray women in the media? What is Iran’s stance regarding the war in Syria? What would Iran prioritize in a security council meeting? Do women participate as actively in society as men? In response to our questions, one of the delegates urged us again and again to visit Iran and to discover the answers to our questions first-hand and individually.
After collecting food-for-thought at the Iranian mission, we headed out for a delicious French meal and met up with some NYC-based Conn alums.
After a day like Wednesday, Conn’s commitment to an international education certainly takes on a magic meaning for me.
February 13, 2014
Pictured is my friend Gaby, a senior, working as a community service assistant in the Office of Volunteers for Community Service (OVCS.) OVCS is a great way for students to go into the New London community and volunteer at sites including day cares, soup kitchens, and senior centers. Apart from connecting students to the community and providing transportation to these sites, OVCS offers work study jobs to students in the form of community service assistants and community site drivers. The office is a professional yet relaxed setting. We are able to sit in the office and work on homework, read, or talk and joke amongst ourselves while we wait for our next ride.
February 10, 2014
Occasionally, The ConnCollegeLive Experience will invite guests to blog about their experiences as a Camel. The following is part of this guest blogger series.
At the beginning of this month, I had the opportunity to work on the ESPN production team for the week of the Super Bowl. The job landed me in Times Square, NYC, where I worked at Times Square Studios (TSS), the location in which we shot our Sportscenter shows, and a variety of other stories, for the week.
During the fall, I worked for ESPN on College Friday Night football games at both Boston College and UCONN. I originally got the position through close family friend and alumna Caroline Davis ’99. Caroline is a production manager for ESPN, and works primarily with Monday Night Football, PGA and the major tennis tournaments across the world. She set me up with the hiring team for ESPN, who contacted me to work my first game in September at Boston College. After connecting with the staff and meeting a wonderful group of people, they set me up with the production staff that invited me to work Super Bowl week.
I worked at TSS each day from 7:30 a.m.-5:30p.m., helping our studio production manager and talent producers make sure everything went according to schedule. We covered live Sportscenter hits, as well as different taping and live hits for The Scott Van Pelt and Rusillo Show, Highly Questionable and Numbers Never Lie. My job was to ensure that talent got from the front doors of the studio, to hair and makeup and onto set on time.
Although I did have to miss a week of school to participate in this work, I think that it was certainly worth it (sorry, Professors!). During the week, I not only met some of the best and most legendary football players in the NFL, but so many amazing people within production and operations from both the ABC and ESPN groups. As a senior who is approaching graduation, I am quickly learning that for where I want to be after graduation it is not necessarily what you know, but who you know, that gets you there. Making connections this week already provided me with a potential job offer, as well as a good deal of contacts in the industry that I can get in touch with as I am trying to decide where I want to end up when I leave in May.
Patty Shields '14 is a Psychology-Based Human Relations major, and has been studying Sports Communications. Through her work in the Sports Information Office, Patty manages the Camel Athletics social media outlets, including @CamelAthletics on Twitter.
Hannah Storm interviews AJ Hawk on the SportsCenter set (left,) and a behind-the-scenes view of anchors Hannah Storm, Mark Schelerth and Merril Hoge.
January 30, 2014
With my love of creative writing and my interest in serving the community, I have begun volunteering at Sound Community Services, a non-profit organization that helps individuals with behavioral needs gain independence. It’s a place where I continue to learn about New London and individuals with behavioral health needs.
The College’s OVCS (the Office of Volunteering and Community Services) helps match students with volunteer opportunities and arranges for vans to transport volunteers to and from their sites. For the first time last semester, the van dropped me off at Sound Community Services. Cynthia, the program director, greeted me warmly. Having told her I intend to major in English, she suggested that I help out with Friday morning creative writing workshops.
I had no idea that, only one week later, I would lead the workshop single-handedly. Fortunately, I had arrived prepared, and I handed out a poem, “Where I’m From” by George Ella Lyon, to the five participants. We read the poem aloud, then we each wrote poems describing where we come from, both literally and figuratively. These poems conveniently helped the group get to know one another. As much as I love learning about the backgrounds of the patients, I also enjoy hearing their fiction pieces.
On Halloween, I copied an exercise that Professor Boyd (an author and professor of English at Conn) uses in her creative writing courses. I prompted my students to invent the age, profession, and gender of an imaginary person, to write these traits on the page, and to share the page with a partner who would then write a story about the fictive person.
The stories that came out of the exercise were out of this world. Outer space, God, free weights, after-work rituals and, yes, a few ghosts all came into the mix.
The workshop took another festive turn with the approach of Thanksgiving. I prompted participants to make a list of what they were thankful for. Friday mornings at Sound Community Services made the top of my list.
January 2, 2014
Just before break, I attended CELS (Career Enhancing Life Services) Workshop Four, which focused on professional communication. The CELS staff showed us techniques for writing cover letters, sending professional emails, and interviewing. Each of the seven workshops have a different goal, from completing your resume to finding your internship. If we attend all the workshops and fulfill separate requirements, we are eligible for a $3,000 stipend for an internship during the summer of our junior year.
October 30, 2013
As a sophomore, I did not think I’d already have to be considering what my senior thesis might be.
However, when you are applying to the Goodwin-Niering Center for the Environment (GNCE,) part of your application mandates a proposed thesis or senior project.
This means thinking about my future A LOT.
Thankfully I am a future-oriented person who knows what she wants to do with her life. But all of those ideas only existed in my head, and putting them down on paper with a plan for the next two and half years of college are solidifying them in a way that is a little intimidating.
On a optimistic note, you can’t say that college is not preparing students for the future, since through this process I have thought seriously about long-term goals, have had to prepare for interviews, reached out to superiors and learned how to craft a serious proposal. These are all skills you need to have in the world after college.
One of the great aspects of GNCE is that not all of the students in it are environmental majors. There are chemistry, anthropology, philosophy, even English majors, and all want to connect the environment to their major or interest.
Applying to the Goodwin-Niering Center is a great example of what most of what extracurriculars at Conn are like; a lot of hard work, but all in preparation for opportunities you would not have access to anywhere else.
October 25, 2013
I check my mailbox twice a day; once in the morning and once in the afternoon. Usually, I'm most excited to receive a package, but receiving an invitation to a luncheon was even better. The invitation was from the Connecticut College Alumni of Color group and the Trustees of Color, for students of color to network with alumni of color. As a student, I saw this as a wonderful opportunity to learn something about previous members of our campus community and how their experiences could positively influence mine.
Of the many things I learned from the alumni in attendance, one thing really stood out. Everyone tells you to get good grades while having a social life. This time, the entire Connecticut College experience was stressed. Taking advantage of every resource and being involved on campus really makes a difference. It is very easy to be the student who goes to class, does their homework and hangs out with a few friends on the weekend. To be the student who, at the end of the day, experiences the college, requires effort. Conn has so much to offer its students.
I was encouraged to find something I'm passionate about and stick with it. Doing everything on campus is one way to experience the college, but another is make your own unique path. Find what you enjoy and take it where no one has before. It's all possible, you just need to make it happen.