Maryville College began its innovative job preparation program four years ago, and this year the graduating senior class will be the first to have completed all four years of the course designed to help prepare them to meet the demands of today’s job market after graduation.
The four-year long curriculum, involving seminars, job fairs, interviews, portfolios and resumes, also requires each student to participate in a Significant Practical Experience (SPE). These SPE’s are oriented with the student’s major and field of interest, ensuring that each individual gains meaningful hands-on experience in a real-world environment.
Byjan Kajaei is a senior majoring in English as a Second Language (ESL) education with a minor in Japanese. She spent six weeks over the summer teaching ESL in Japan. During this time, she was able to substantially improve her Japanese language skills while gaining credit towards her degree.
“I got to completely immerse myself in another culture, which allowed me to experience what that can be like for our ESL and international students here in the United States,” Kajaei said.
She also said that the experience was valuable because, while she does not have to speak a student’s native language to teach ESL, it helped her understand how certain student populations might struggle with pronunciation and grammar. One of her favorite memories from her time in Japan was tutoring her Japanese friends in English while they tutored her in Japanese.
Kajaei spoke highly of the MC Works program stating that without the SPE, she never would have received as much knowledge and experience for her future career either abroad or in the United States.
Jordan McCullough is a Maryville senior majoring in history and hoping to pursue a career in higher education administration. Jordan’s SPE was on campus with the Residential Life Department at Maryville College. He worked in multiple departments all dealing with student development, specifically working with coordinating the entirety of the early check-in process for every residence hall on campus. McCullough also assisted in pairing freshmen roommates as well as coordinating freshman move-ins this fall.
He said he believes it was a practical experience he likely wouldn’t have had the chance to participate in at a larger institution. Because of the specialization of his career goals, direct practical experience in a field like education administration is hard to find.
“It’s hard to specialize towards your career, no matter your major, and the Maryville College Works program made sure that I had a real experience in something I had only thought I wanted to do,” McCullough said. “Now I can go confidently into any future career without that doubt hanging over me.”
Olivia Cleveland is a Maryville senior majoring in Political Science. She completed her SPE with Senator Bob Corker’s office working as a Constituent Services Representative answering phones and tallying constituents’ thoughts about issues or helping with case work.
“My internship helped develop my communication and time management skills greatly–I was talking to constituents for most of my time at Senator Corker’s office, and most of the case work was extremely time sensitive,” Cleveland said.
She stated that, while her internship was challenging at some points, she was incredibly grateful for her experience and inspired by the women that work in Senator Corker’s office full-time.
Cleveland said she thanks Christy McDonald and Sarah Yeaple in the Career Center for how helpful they were in introducing her to the internship as well as crafting her resume and application. Even though she has already fulfilled her SPE requirement, Cleveland still visits the Career Center every month or so to check that she’s on the right track for graduation and graduate school. She believes MC Works introduced her to new opportunities and prepared her for the future giving her real experience in the field in which she hopes to work after graduation.
Chauncey Padilla is a Maryville senior majoring in Finance and Accounting while hoping to pursue a career in either tax or audit accounting. He participated in two SPE experiences at Maryville with help from the Career Center.
The first internship took place during his junior year with the Boys and Girls Club of Blount County where he worked as an Administrative Assistant. During his time there, he helped with payment processing, member tracking, updating files and programing events for members. He stated that the experience allowed him to learn and understand proper job etiquette within a professional office.
Padilla’s second experience was during his Senior year with Crisp Accounting and Tax Services. During this SPE, he learned how to file company and individual taxes using accounting tax software, bookkeeping, payroll, bank reconciliations and other accounting services for small businesses in the Maryville area.
“I decided on both these internships because both gave me my first experience within the business industry and accounting in the area of expertise I hope to have a career in,” said Padilla.
He had many good things to say about the Career Center staff, especially Christy McDonald and Sarah Yeaple. Padilla spoke of the support, professional assistance and advice he received through finding and obtaining an internship and the tools the Center provided in his experience.
These seniors, and others like them, have experienced the MC Works program and often had life-changing experiences because of it. Providing a road map during the four years a student spends at Maryville, MC Works helps deliver the tools and support needed to navigate the professional world, while offering various seminars and career fairs for further preparation.
The Career Center, working in conjunction with the MC Works program, has a highly trained and dedicated staff that assists students of all levels with utilizing those tools and finding internships that are enriching and meaningful. Every student at Maryville should take advantage of this innovative program and follow in the steps of our graduating class!