Making a major career change takes courage, determination, and an investment in gaining new skills, but how, as the common expression goes, do you get your foot in the door when you don’t have any experience or connections in your new field? Stephanie, a Walden student in the B.S. in Forensic Psychology program, had years of banking and administrative experience before deciding to pursue her long time interest in forensic psychology. To start gaining experience in her new field, Stephanie decided to take the elective course “IDST 4003: Seminar with Internship”.
While searching for her internship, Stephanie attended a local conference on diversity and disparity. She said she was determined to engage with others at the conference, and “not be just a fly on the wall”. In a conversation with one of the conference speakers, Stephanie expressed her interest in finding an internship. She was advised to connect with the CEO of a local non-profit organization, Spectrum Resources, that helps ex-offenders reenter society. Within a week, Stephanie had a paid internship at Spectrum Resources helping with intake, shadowing a case manager, assisting with grants, planning the annual charity event, and being a guest speaker on a local radio station. Stephanie said the internship was a valuable learning experience. It offered her the opportunity to apply her academic knowledge, gain new skills and insights, meet people in her field, and share her experience with classmates in her course discussions.
Once Stephanie got her foot in the door at Spectrum Resources, she used the knowledge she gained in her academic program and her organizational skills to become a valuable member of the organization. When she mentioned that she would be looking for a job when her internship ended, they were so impressed with her work that they offered her a full-time position as an Employment Specialist. She is thrilled with the opportunity she has in her new position to help ex-offenders find employment and make a successful transition into the community. Her advice to others is to start searching for an internship, go to conferences, and ask for help. She said, “Get out and look for opportunities; they aren’t going to fall in your lap”.
Consider getting your foot in the door through an internship, field experience, or volunteer position. Here are some resources on the Career Services website to help you get started:
- Internships and Service Learning Resources: http://careercenter.waldenu.edu/1119.htm
- Volunteer Opportunities: http://careercenter.waldenu.edu/1137.htm
- Walden Service Learning Network: http://www.waldenu.edu/about/social-change/service-network
- Archived Webinars:
Strategic Volunteering for Career Success
From Take-Off to Landing- Undergraduate Career Success http://careercenter.waldenu.edu/921.htm
Written by Denise Pranke, Career Services Advisor