Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Spotlight on: Grad Students in the Center for Digital Engagement Summer Clinic

Spotlight on: CDE Graduate Students
One of the coolest things about the Center for Digital Engagement’s Summer Clinic is the wide variety of experiences that come into the clinic. Participants in the 2019 cohorts come from 10 different schools, some of them being community colleges, universities, and even graduate schools, and further diverse class standings and program knowledge within. It may be news that the Center for Digital Engagement’s Summer Clinic is open to graduate students--it is. Why might graduate students be interested in this opportunity, you ask? 

Picture it: a warm May day in 2015, inside the The Michigan Theatre. My family gathers to watch me walk at my fourth and final UofM graduation ceremony. A professor I can’t remember the name of and probably never studied with slaps a diploma case in my hand, and I’ve officially graduated from the University of Michigan’s College of Literature, Science and the Arts with a B.A. in English. 

A bunch of my friends in other degree programs already had job or internship offers, or admissions offers to graduate schools across the globe. I, on the other hand, had no plan. For delicate, non-academic reasons, my senior year had been tumultuous, and graduation snuck up on me. I’d never once visited my university Career Center or put much thought into what I’d like to do after graduation. Making matters worse, I had no extracurriculars to speak of. While other students in my cohort graduated with theses and big name internships or cool volunteer experiences, I graduated with the unfortunate misunderstanding that the piece of paper and a High Honors GPA was enough.

Spoiler Alert: It wasn’t. Nobody on the job market really cared about my fluent ability to communicate in MLA Format with Times New Roman 12 font, double-spaced. That is, of course, not to disparage a liberal arts education. I’d learned wonderful skills in college and became an extremely well-rounded thinker and scholar, but by not thinking of life after college while I was in school, I’d set myself up for trouble. 

Enter grad school, and the Center for Digital Engagement. Unlike many internships that are closed to graduate students, the CDE Digital Clinic also allows graduate students to gain necessary professionalization skills and competencies they might not have otherwise, including certifications from both Ann Arbor SPARK and Google Analytics. The timing of the clinic also lends itself nicely for graduate students who have assistantships like teaching or administrative duties during the school year but have the time and need for paid summer employment. 

If I had to do it all over again, of course, I wish I would have known about this opportunity when I was an undergraduate student so I could have had that extra layer of direction and professionalization going into the workforce and graduate school. As they say, however: better late than never. Being a Participant in the CDE Internship is both helping me make up for lost time, and better network myself to prepare for life after graduation (again). 

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