Getting Ready for the Real World
With more than 90 percent of its graduates employed or enrolled in graduate school within three months after graduation, Longwood University is connecting its students to the real world in successful ways.
Demanding academics supported by devoted faculty are only two of the ingredients for this highest placement rate among public institutions in Virginia. The university's internship requirement is the other effective key unlocking career doors.
No one takes internships and career success more seriously than Longwood's College of Arts and Sciences (CAS). The CAS is the largest and most comprehensive of Longwood's three colleges and touches the lives of everyone at Longwood. In a college with 20 majors, internship requirements may differ, but all are created to give each student a unique experience designed to empower professional growth.
"One of the key features that makes CAS unique is our combination of a rigorous liberal arts education and a ‘real world' experience, as embodied in the research, internship and directed study projects our students must now complete," says Dr. Charles Ross, interim dean of the CAS. "While internships and undergraduate research projects are common requirements in professional and technical colleges, such requirements are much less common in colleges of arts and sciences."
Dr. Ross continued, "The CAS faculty believes that these experiences are a crucial part of our mission to provide the best education possible. The projects do more than provide students with a chance to focus on current issues in their disciplines: Internships help students make contacts that are very beneficial in their career searches.
"While these projects certainly add depth to the student's experience, they also help tie the arts and sciences community together. During the CAS Research and Internship Showcases we have planned for December and April, students and faculty from all CAS departments will be able to intermingle and learn about projects throughout the college. These types of events not only build esprit de corps in the college, but can also give rise to those ‘ah ha' moments where students and faculty see the potential for interdisciplinary connections they might not have seen otherwise."
Quality internships are prized opportunities for Longwood students. Such experience molds the education a student receives into a marketable skill. The CAS faculty understands the importance of significant internships and devotes hours themselves toward a student's successful experience.
"Arts and Sciences internships are much more than just padding for the résumé," says Dr. Bill Stuart, assistant professor of communication studies, who oversees the internship program for communication students. "For example, the process of finding an internship is important – students have to think about what they want to do, geographic location, prepare a résumé and compete for positions. These are skills students will need throughout their careers.
"Understanding the connection between classroom instruction and experiential learning helps students learn more about themselves and the world," Dr. Stuart says."This connection is stressed in our co-curricular activities on campus, enhanced through service learning opportunities, and is epitomized in our internship program.
"Internships are vital, vibrant extensions of the classroom learning experience. Students are able to apply and test the theories and skills learned in the classroom and then push themselves and expand their horizons beyond the comfort zones of home and college. They are able to talk to potential employers and clearly articulate their skills and abilities, because they've already put them into practice. The internship program is just one of the ways we're very good at what we do in the College of Arts and Sciences."
As the only public institution in Virginia, and one of only a few in the country, to require an experiential learning project of all students, Longwood gives their graduates a lasting tool for success. In the CAS career success is built on challenging academics, faculty-student collaboration, and real world experience, which allows its graduates to truly discover the power within and market it successfully.