"A Helping Hand" [8/10]

Inside Giving is a product of the Luther College Annual Fund and strives to give you and other donors to the Annual Fund an exclusive look at how your annual gifts make a difference at Luther College.

"A Helping Hand: The Internship/Externship Program at Luther College"
A note from Aaron Schmaltz '12, Inside Giving intern

With dreams of becoming a writer, I was convinced of one thing: I will live in a box the rest of my life. I knew that despite the amazing English program here at Luther, I would likely be forced to become an out-of-work freelance writer. And as a new English major, I was unaware of many other options.

Last year, though, I attended the English department’s annual career panel, and it opened my eyes to the different paths an English major might choose. It was here that I met Dustin Ross ’05, Luther grad and Assistant Director of Annual Giving, who spoke with me about the writing field. Journalism and advertising aside, I was surprised to learn of the unique writing niche in which Ross works. He writes to alumni, implements marketing strategies, and maintains communication with the alumni and donor community.  Best of all, from that experience came this internship where I get to write to all of you about what’s happening on campus.

Mark Peltz, assistant dean and director of Luther’s career center, states that around 58% of a graduating class will participate in an internship, practicum, or similar experience prior to graduation and that the College has set a goal to raise that percent to 70%.

An internship or externship is more than just a networking opportunity, though. A New York Times article notes that “Luther College’s three-year-old externship program originated as a way of re-engaging alumni in campus life.” Together, students and alumni provide helping hands.

I spoke with several students about their internship/externship experiences, and I received consistently positive comments.

Kristine Wietecha ’12 worked over the summer for TRISTAN Publishing in Golden Valley, Minnesota. During her time there, Wietecha helped prepare catalogs from mailings, researched blogs and magazines for possible marketing, and reviewed manuscripts: “I really wanted to see if I would enjoy publishing as a career.”

Similarly, Katrina Houmes ’12 spent time over the summer working at the Grout Museum of History and Science in Waterloo, Iowa.  There she assisted the exhibit coordinator by researching and creating display cases: “I would really consider museum studies as a career: it’s interesting, I don’t sit at a desk all day, and I am constantly being challenged.” Houmes plans to study in Washington D.C. this fall, where she will work at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery.

As I explore what the future holds, the internship/externship program helps establish direction--it will help me orient myself in the real world. Hopefully a version of the real that doesn’t have me living in a box.

VIDEO: "Luther by the Numbers"
As we get ready to welcome the Class of 2014 to Luther, check out this video that highlights how we all add up.

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