Interns provide service as they learn

2012-07-26T08:00:00Z 2012-07-26T21:29:43Z Interns provide service as they learnBy JOCE DeWITT, Corvallis Gazette-Times Corvallis Gazette Times

Students sample varied training in hopes of working for Oregon

Tuesday morning, 29 student interns sat through more than five hours of professional development, networking and etiquette workshops.

But in the afternoon, they finally got a chance to get their hands dirty — really dirty. To conclude their full day of professional development, student interns in the Professional and Managerial Internships in State Employment — known as the PROMISE program — dug trenches and pulled weeds at the Starker Arts Garden for Education.

The service project, selected by Oregon State University’s Center for Civic Engagement, was one of many activities for the PROMISE participants. The program develops students professionally through various paid summer positions around campus and surrounding areas.

PROMISE Program Director Diane Davis said that the goal of the enterprise is to provide students with valuable experience — and therefore increase the potential pool of applicants for jobs in state and local government agencies who come from under-represented groups. Now in its 20th year, PROMISE aims to equip such students with confidence, a network of colleagues and useful resources that can help them achieve career success.

Phi Vu is a recently graduated student who will begin pharmacy school in the fall and is working for PROMISE for the first time this summer.

Vu has an internship with the Benton County Health Department, where he is developing training materials.

“I’m learning more about professional growth and personal strengths,” he said. He has cultivated a professional network through working with potential bosses, connections and colleagues.

Twenty-seven students were accepted as paid interns; about twice as many applied. Two students also came from out-of-state programs to work with PROMISE for the summer.

Though anyone is welcome, PROMISE attracts applications for the full-time, 10-week internship from students from under-represented backgrounds, whether because of their age, sexual orientation or ethnicity. Some are the first in their family to attend college. They all have completed at least their sophomore year.

“We want them to comfortably navigate any employment process,” Davis said. “We want them to be well-networked and closely connected with each other.”

Students complete a variety of projects under the direction of a sponsor and are funded through the Office of the Provost. The Benton County Board of Commissioners office and the Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport are two of more than a dozen agencies that host interns.

Davis said this year’s group has been especially engaged.

“They’re amazing,” she said. “They’re very special; they’re high-energy, engaged and talkative.”

Kathryn Kennemer, a senior in political science and psychology, is spending the summer with the Benton County Board of Commissioners, taking an inventory of partnerships and services.

“It gives me more of an insight into office work and professionalism,” said Kennemer, who hopes to go into government work after she graduates. “I thought it’d be a lot more busy, but everyone is really laid back.”

PROMISE, administered through the Office of Equity and Inclusion, ends Aug. 30 with a public poster galleria at the CH2M Hill Alumni Center, where interns present posters about their summer projects.

Copyright 2016 Corvallis Gazette Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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