Students discovered internship and volunteering opportunities through an annual Career Services and Community Service Learning event.Students discovered internship and volunteering opportunities through an annual Career Services and Community Service Learning event.

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Annual Internship and Volunteer Fair guides Willamette students towards their futures

Willamette University's Cat Cavern buzzed with activity this week as the 11th annual Internship and Volunteer Fair beckoned students to explore their potential and discover service and career training opportunities.

Almost 50 businesses, agencies and organizations were represented, ranging from the YWCA to the Oregon Department of Transportation to Salem Hospital to the Lutheran Volunteer Corps. The Office of Career Services and the Office of Community Service Learning co-sponsored the event.

Each organization had spokespeople eager to inform students about their projects and positions, and prospective interns and volunteers jumped at the chance to learn about them.

The golden ticket to a career

Career Services Director Jerry Houser says the fair helps students open doors that are critical to entering the job market and starting their career paths.

"Internships are becoming the ticket to good jobs; something like 80 percent of employers hire through internships," Houser says.

"Internships also help with professional skill-building. They teach students what to expect from employers and are a great source for evaluation and feedback. They are excellent for helping students develop long-term goals and explore interests."

Laura Clerc, director of the Community Outreach Program, says the fair also allows students to connect and engage with the community.

"It's a great way to find chances to volunteer and meet community needs while also growing and learning," she says.

A success story

Kirstin Heydel '10, a psychology graduate, found both her passion and her future career at the Internship and Volunteer Fair during her time as a Willamette student. 

She completed an internship with the Mid-Valley Women's Crisis Service two summers ago after hearing an advocate speak at a psychology seminar, which led her to seek out the organization at the fair.

Within a week of her graduation from Willamette, Heydel was invited to join the MVWCS team as Youth Services Advocate.

"I just really believed in everything this organization does and stands for, and I feel very fortunate to help serve that purpose," she says. "Willamette internships definitely pay off."

Opening new doors

"We present the Internship and Volunteer Fair with the hope that it will introduce students to all of the different opportunities they have at Willamette and in the community," Clerc says.

And she stresses that there are even more available than are showcased at the fair.

Dylan Goldade '13, a biology major, says he found opportunities he would not have otherwise known about - one that sparked his interest was Give A Shirt, a local project to provide clothes to homeless youths.

"Many Willamette students have the time to volunteer and help in the community, and this is a great way to see all of the choices," he says.