Landmark College Interns Go to Work
by Solvegi Shmulsky
PUTNEY, Vt.--Three students at Landmark College are working for local businesses in 2014 as part of the Windham Higher Education Cooperative (WHEC) Internship Program, an initiative that is supported by a grant from the Vermont Department of Labor. Led by Director Jan Coplan, the program matches southern Vermont college students with positions in local businesses. There are over 30 internship positions posted at organizations including the Brattleboro Museum and Arts Center, Girls on the Run of Brattleboro, The West Hill Shop, and Allen Brothers Farms. In total, 121 businesses have expressed interest.
“Internships are important because they give students an opportunity to apply what they've learned in the classroom,” said Dr. Monika Bissell, Vice President for Academic Affairs at Landmark College. Bissell described the value of internships on both ends of the employment agreement. She said, “Internships can be fantastic confidence builders for the student and for potential employers. Students build confidence in the skills that they develop and employers become confident because of the evidence of those skills.”
Bernie Matles, who attends Landmark College and works at Farnum Insulators in Putney, Vt., described the benefits of his paid internship. “There is no better teacher than a hands-on experience in the workplace,” he said. “The company benefits from having fresh ideas and new blood coming in the door rejuvenating the staff and bringing a new perspective that they may not have seen before.”
Experience at Farnum Insulators is preparing Matles for a career in business. “As a future entrepreneur in the green energy field, I will come across similar growing pains. Seeing what they might look like and dealing with them first hand has helped me prepare for similar eventualities… By the end of the semester, I feel confident in finding a job with in the energy auditing field, propelling me closer to my goal of owning my own green energy business.”
Emily Motter, a social media intern working at the Putney Co-op, discussed the value of working in a social environment and learning how to interact with fellow employees. She said, “I am learning about working as a part of a bigger team—The Co-op is made up of many different departments, and working in social media means you have to pay attention to most of them. I am learning to think more broadly and learning different ways to interact with co-workers.”
Intern Omoefe Ogbeide works in the quality control division of Fulflex Elasometrics Worldwide, Inc., a company that makes elastic material used in products as wide-ranging as bungee cords, medical equipment, swim wear, and disposable diapers. In addition to discussing the value and reward of on-the-job training, Ogbeide offered advice to students seeking internships. She said, “Be prepared, be engaged, and don’t be afraid to make mistakes, because you are there to learn.”
While the specialized mission of Landmark College is known in the community, Ogbeide commented that disclosing one’s LD is a personal decision. She emphasized the importance of taking responsibility for one’s areas of challenge and compensating ahead of time. “If you struggle with time, plan to be there an hour early. If you struggle with deadlines, get work done ASAP,” she said. “You come to find that everyone has difficulties, individuals with LDs or not,” she said. “How you address those difficulties correlates with your success. You must work on personalized techniques consistently. It’s hard but doable!”
At Landmark College, internships are a core element of the B.A. degree program that began in 2012. Academic internships are described as “a credit-bearing opportunity for students to gain experience in a career-related occupational setting.” To date, Landmark College has been the largest participant in the Internship Program, with three students placed and a fourth pending. Interested students should contact the Landmark College Transfer and Career Services Office for information about internships.
Coplan commented on the program’s value for local businesses. She said, “They are gaining a more informed understanding of what Landmark College is, its programs, and the caliber of students who attend.” She aims to grow the program so that more students and businesses can benefit. She said, “My hope is to create a stronger following for the program on Landmark’s campus and in the Windham region. In the next few years I’d like to see even more internships opportunities available for students.”
Fall 2014 Landmark College Student Interns
Omoefe Ogbeide- Fulflex Elasometrics Worldwide, Brattleboro Vt.
Title- Intern for the World Class Initiative
Ogbeide did a paid internship at Fulflex in summer 2014 and was offered employment. She works there part time while she is pursuing her bachelor’s degree at Landmark College.
Bernie Matles- Farnum Insulators, Putney Vt.
Title- Production Intern
Matles is earning three credits in a paid internship.
Emily Motter- The Putney Co-op, in Putney
Title- Social Media Intern
Motter was hired in October 2014; she is receiving training at the Co-op.
Internship and employment
For many, the practical value of an internship is that it may lead to a job. In 2012, 69% of companies with greater than 100 employees offered full-time employment to interns, and two thirds indicated that work experience and interview skills are more important than academic performance in their employment decisions. Paid internships are linked more closely with job offers, with 63 percent of paid interns gaining employment compared to 37 and 35 percent of unpaid interns and students who have never interned, respectively.
Virtual internships have been emerging in fields such as journalism and software development, which can operate with far-flung, WiFi-connected workers. One example of a virtual internship is the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library’s Wikipedian in Residence, a position that has been cropping up at museums and libraries across the U.S. Virtual internships can work for businesses who may employ interns while saving office space and for students who may participate without the need for transportation. Virtual internships are available in Vermont as well, and currently a student from the University of Vermont in Burlington, Vt. Is working for the Halifax-based company Storm Petrel in this capacity.
Director Coplan expressed the vision of the WHEC Internship Program. She said, “We’d like to change the mindset around internships so that students see them as career-building opportunities. Internships—sometimes even two or more— will be a regular part of the student’s academic experience and not a rarity.”
Landmark College was the first institution of higher learning to pioneer college-level studies for students with dyslexia. Today, Landmark College is a global leader in integrated teaching methods for students with learning disabilities (including dyslexia), ADHD, and autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The College offers two- and four-year degree options, a graduate-level certificate in universal design with technology integration, and summer programs for students who learn differently. Students, faculty, and professionals from around the world are drawn to Landmark College for its innovative educational model, designed through research and practice to help all students become confident, empowered, and independently successful learners.