Student spotlight: A balancing act
The best way to know if your dream job is right for you is to get an internship. Many University of San Diego students struggle to balance classes, work, and an internship.
Dakota Quayle, a USD senior and communication studies major, has found a way to do all that and still have free time to hang out with her friends, dog, and boyfriend.
Quayle is currently an intern with Live Well San Diego. The company is part of the Health and Human Services Agency in San Diego. Quayle explained that having an internship is both challenging and rewarding.
“I am a full time student, I work about 12 hours a week at my internship, and I also have a nighttime job working in a restaurant,” Quayle said. “It can be really hard to balance everything, get homework done, and hopefully squeeze in a social life while I’m at it. I know it will be all worth while in the end though, so I remind myself of that.”
Quayle found her internship after her health communication professor at USD, Julian Tullis, sent students an email about upcoming internship opportunities.
“Initially, I hoped to be a health communication major, which isn’t offered at USD, but I have been able to take classes, like Dr. Tullis’, that have helped me realize health communication is the field I want to be in,” Quayle said. “My internship requires a lot of computer work, but I feel my major has helped me get to where I am today.”
Quayle said the process of getting the internship was quite simple. She explained that all she had to do was sign up for an internship class with USD’s communication studies professor and internship coordinator, Greg Ghio, and fill out the proper paperwork. Then, she contacted the company offering the internship.
After she completed the paperwork at USD, Quayle submitted her cover letter and résumé to Live Well San Diego.
“I heard back from them rather quickly,” Quayle said. “I first had a phone interview, and then an in person interview where they offered me the position. After that, I had to fill out a lot of government paperwork that took a long time to process. About a month and a half later, I was able to start working for them.”
So far Quayle said she is enjoying her internship. She shared that she hopes to work someday in the health communication field, so this internship has allowed her to gain necessary training to pursue such a career after graduation.
“Being able to work in a real work setting, with the understanding that you are there to learn is a great feeling,” Quayle said. “I feel more comfortable asking for help or clarification on something then I think I would have had this been a job right out of college. This is my first time working in an office, and that is a bit daunting. It is calming to know that, once I graduate in May and go out into the job market, I will have some experience under my belt that I can use to make a great first impression at an interview or even at my first job.”
Ghio said that internships are useful for students.
“Internships are a valuable tool to knowing what industry students want to do or do not want to go into,” Ghio said.
USD’s Career Development Center (CDev) works with students to strategize about jobs, careers, and internships, along with providing many other job-related resources. CDev also coordinates with each department’s internship coordinators to further prepare students for success during and after college.
Kelsey Schultz, a career counselor at USD, said that CDev’s help for students planning for life after graduation is not limited to finding an internship.
“We help students learn about self, connect what they have learned in the classroom, and network,” Schultz said. “In the workforce, it is not who you know, but who knows you. Internships are a great way for students to put learning in practice, while setting up students for the future, whether that is grad school, research, or a career. We encourage students to start thinking about internships early and often. We encourage students to have as many internships as they can.”
CDev offers undergraduate students support, such as personal assessments, career finder tools, and Torerolink. Schultz also said CDev offers preparation for applying for a job.
“We help students with writing their résumé, cover letter, and prepare them for interviews,” Schultz said.
According to CDev, 68 percent of USD students participated in internships between 2014 and 2015.
Many students have expressed that they believe an internship is a way to get a glimpse into the job students want to have after graduation. While interning, students can receive college credit, build a résumé, and gain experience in the workforce.
While balancing an internship is tough, Quayle shared her thoughts on the importance of having an internship in college.
“I think an internship is a great resource for college students to utilize, and USD makes it so easy to do,” Quayle said. “I often hear about former students getting caught in the circle of, ‘you can’t get a job without experience, but you can’t get experience without a job.’ What better way than to get experience while still in school and get college credit for it? It’s a no brainer to me. I think students at USD should take advantage of their opportunity while at a school that offers so many benefits like this.”
As students plan out their schedules for intersession and spring, it is never too early to start thinking about an internship. There are many resources on and off campus for students to use when searching for the perfect internship.
Written by Jennifer Givens