In today’s hyper-competitive professional world, undergraduate students constantly feel the pressure to obtain summer internships in order to gain professional experience and boost their resume for the frightening day when they apply for post-graduate jobs. There are resources here at Bates that students may use to their advantage in securing summer internships and making them more desirable and competitive candidates in the professional world.

For students who may not be familiar with the Bates Career Development Center or their initiative, the Purposeful Work initiative aims to guide students towards Bates-specific internships that work in conjunction with core employers, and provides funding for unpaid or low-paid internships. The BCDC has invested considerable time and resources into establishing a network of core-employers that offer Bates-specific internships.

“The core employer network is intentionally diverse to align with the wide array of students’ interests. We grew from 46 core employers in 2015 to 68 core employers in 2016. Core employers prioritize hiring Bates students into their paid internships. Examples of 2016 core employers: Owl Cybersecurity in Denver, a congressional office in Washington D.C., Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston, and LMCG Investments in Boston – to name just a few”, says Christina Patrick of the Bates Career Development Center.

This year marks the third year of the BCDC’s installation of the Purposeful Work Initiative, which provides current Bates students with a trajectory for their four years at Bates and works to prepare them academically and professionally for the postgraduate world. As first-years, the BCDC urges students to understand the academic and social climate of Bates, and explore interests across varied academic and extracurricular landscapes. As sophomores, the Purposeful Work Program provides opportunities for students to start thinking about interests professionally through job shadows offered by the Purposeful Work Program and the BCDC during the academic year, and summer internships offered and funded through the Purposeful Work Internship Program. During junior year, the BCDC encourages students to apply their knowledge gained from job shadows and internships during their sophomore year to narrow their professional interests. This allows students to explore internship options between their junior and senior year that reflect what they may aspire to do professionally in the rapidly approaching postgraduate arena. Senior year is meant to be the culmination of the multifaceted academic and professional experiences students have fostered in their four years at Bates; a time when students should be actively engaged in pursuing careers or employment opportunities in fields or industries they have found interest in during their experiences at Bates. By following this four step recipe, Bates students are provided with an academic and pre-professional education that prepares them for life after Bates.

The Purposeful Work Initiative has been extremely successful as indicated by the increasing numbers of students who participate in the program each year. For example, student participation in the Purposeful Work Initiative increased in 2016 from the previous year. According to Christina Patrick in the BCDC, “in the first year of the program (summer 2015), 197 students became eligible. This past year, year two of the program (summer 2016), 398 students became eligible.”

Similarly, of the 197 students that became eligible in 2015, 97 students ended up completing a Purposeful Work Internship. In 2016, 119 students held positions that were considered Purposeful Work Internships. Interestingly, 53% were juniors, 36% sophomores, and 10% first years, a statistic that validates the BCDC’s claim that they are encouraging students of all class years to obtain summer internships.

The Purposeful Work Program offers an impressive range of opportunity in an array of professional industries. According to statistics obtained from the BCDC, the most common industries this summer were healthcare (22), nonprofit (16), science research and development (12), and education (11). It important to also note that not all of these internship opportunities are limited to the companies within the United States. There are internships offered throughout Europe as well as Asia, and there is even a subset of the Purposeful Work Initiative called “Bates In Asia” that offers a handful of internships throughout Asia.

It seems that the BCDC and the Purposeful Work Initiative continues to be a helpful and guiding resource for students who want to expose themselves to professional experiences while pursuing an undergraduate degree. For students who wish to start this process, they may make an appointment on the BCDC’s website at http://www.bates.edu/career/.