At Southwestern University, our core purpose is “fostering a liberal arts community whose values and actions encourage contributions towards the well-being of humanity.” In alignment with this institutional value, every semester, the University sends our students into regional, national, and global communities for internships where in addition to exploring potential career paths, our students contribute their talents and academic training to the benefit of the businesses and organizations at which they work and the wider community at large.

While we have 44 students completing internships near and far this summer, several are working right here in Williamson County. Four students, all rising seniors, are exploring career paths that build upon their Southwestern studies with organizations in Georgetown, and two are working at the local Chamber of Commerce.

Georgetown Chamber of Commerce

The Georgetown Chamber of Commerce has recruited and hired Southwestern students for their internship program for many years. Dana Sanders, Director of Operations, has been with the Chamber for six years and states,

“We love Southwestern, and we love the students. This program has been going on long before I got here. …We try to have at least two students quarterly, and they really learn a lot. We try to give them the benefit of what their major is. We let them choose a member to go meet and have lunch with or coffee with to kind of pick their brains to see how that industry or career pathway they are looking at might fit or might be scary. So, we try to match them up with our members. We also try to make sure they are front and center, so the public and city officials and leaders can meet them, they can network with them, and collect business cards. Kind of start their career path journey … So, we are about getting them connected into the community and hopefully with the same kind of career path that they want.”

Morgan Kos ’24, majoring in Business with a minor in Communication Studies, was one of two interns with the Chamber this summer. She participated in Southwestern’s Funded Internship program, which allows students pursuing unpaid or low-paying internships to apply for supplemental funding donated by friends and alumni of the University.

Kos applied for an internship with the Chamber because of her interest in event coordination and her awareness of the organization’s onsite event venue, the Georgetown Event Center. During her experience, she assisted the Chamber’s Event Coordinator and also helped with marketing efforts. Kos was able to manage the Georgetown Event Center’s Facebook and Instagram accounts and design social media marketing materials. In regards to her internship and how it has prepared her for a career, Kos comments,

“[I’ve] been able to narrow down more so what I want to do in regards to event coordination and, I guess, the planning behind it. …If I’m able to work for a business that has a venue-specific [site] or later down the line, I could have my own business or company where it is a venue-based [site], then I think that would be amazing.”

Matthew Gomez ’24, was another intern with the Chamber this summer. Graduating in May, he will have a degree in business. He is ambitious and has career goals to learn from and grow within whatever organization hires him after graduation.

From his Chamber internship, Gomez learned how to network and talk professionally with different business owners. He was able to meet several business owners and hear about the ambitions that drove them to start their own company, as well as the setbacks or stumbling blocks they encountered in building their business.

Gomez believes his experience with the Chamber connects with his career path,

“I think everything that I have learned so far will tie in at a certain timeline, at a certain point within my career path. I think for sure networking is going to go a long way - just knowing who you know. If I decide to become an entrepreneur and I need help starting a business… I know several people; I’ve gotten several people’s business cards that I can just call and ask for advice to get things up and running.”

For Kos and Gomez, their experiences at the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce have allowed them to put into practice concepts and theories learned in the classroom and refine their professional skills, which will aid in career success post-graduation.

Williamson County (WILCO) Juvenile Services

Andrew Cutting ’23, a psychology major preparing to graduate in December, completed a summer internship with the Williamson County (WILCO) Juvenile Services’ Prevention Team. In this experience, Cutting shadowed the Prevention Team’s parole officers who work with youth who have been involved in illegal activity.

These officers’ jobs are to be positive mentors in these kids’ lives and to encourage them to make responsible choices. They hope to deter them from pursuing further criminal behavior that could lead to more serious legal consequences.

Cutting has a passion for working with youth, in particular high-risk kids who often do not have stable home lives. Having grown up in a household raised by a single Mom, he understands the importance of having positive male role models and mentors. He is grateful for the positive male role models he has had in his life and wants to be that for youth in WILCO Juvenile Services.

While shadowing the Prevention Team’s parole officers, Cutting learned their processes and procedures for working with at-risk youth. He was also able to put into practice his Southwestern coursework during this experience, “With my supervisor, we talk about different theories from psychology and how they are showing up in these kids.”

He would like for this internship experience to shape his future career and is considering pursuing a graduate degree in psychology with a focus on counseling or going to law school, both of which would allow him to support the at-risk youth population.

Palace Theater

In addition to jumping into Williamson County’s civic and social services organizations, Southwestern students are eager to get involved in the arts.

Will Mallick ’24, a Religion major minoring in Theatre, completed an internship this spring and summer with The Georgetown Palace Theater, the oldest theatre in town. The Palace has been serving the community 90 years and aims to provide affordable quality opportunities in the performing arts.

Mallick’s career goals are to be a professional actor, and he had the opportunity to play a leading role in The Palace’s summer musical, Once on this Island. In this internship experience, he learned,

“Patience is key. …Things don’t always go the way you want them to go, and it’s important to remember to take a step back and know that you are not the end-all-be-all. …so that humility. And the importance of being prepared. Going into the space and knowing exactly what is needed and required of you and then being able to execute that so that everyone else can do their job.”

Southwestern coursework influenced Mallick’s internship as during his experience, he found himself reflecting on things learned in the classroom and making cross-curricular connections.

Furthermore, he discovered that his extracurricular theater work at the University directly prepared him for professional work in community theatre.

Communication and networking also proved to be an instrumental skill learned in Mallick’s internship experience. Within weeks of working on set at The Palace, the director referred him to the casting crew for Impact Arts Summer Stock Austin, who recruited him for their performance of Grease, where Mallick played one of the main characters, Kenickie Murdoch, in late July.

Conclusion: Win-Win

For our students, these internship experiences are invaluable opportunities to drive home the concepts and theories they have learned through their liberal arts education. Internships allow them to put into practice their learnings and see the benefits played out in the community. Furthermore, it gives them the chance to develop new skills and meld their coursework with experiential learning, which ultimately prepares them for successful careers and service in their industries of interest.

Our students benefit the organizations in which they intern as well. Dana Sanders with the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce mentions that their organization, like most non-profits, is run “lean and mean”; thus, there is always a surplus of work to be done with a limited number of staff. Interns help tremendously with the workload, and for the intern, the payoff is the quality of work, as they get to assist with projects and assignments that would otherwise be completed by full-time professional staff.

Internships are a win-win for our students and the organizations and communities in which they work and serve, and at Southwestern University, we truly are “fostering a liberal arts community whose values and actions encourage contributions towards the well-being of humanity.”

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