Raleigh’s William Peace University helps students get a jumpstart on their careers

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From a high school to a two-year college for women, William Peace University has served as an educational institution in the heart of Raleigh since its founding in 1857. Now a four-year, coeducational university, WPU offers bachelor’s degrees in more than 35 majors, minors and concentrations.

Nearly every traditional undergraduate student at WPU completes an internship — with many students securing jobs directly through internships. The school’s Office of Academic and Career Advising helps students get connected with networking and career opportunities, no matter their major.

“Our university’s mission centers around preparing students for life after graduation, which includes meaningful careers. We have good relationships with companies and organizations around the Triangle and beyond, so sometimes students find internships on their own, but we also have resources where we help connect students with internships,” said Kasha Klinegores, director of Academic and Career Advising at WPU. “Because we are a small, well-connected institution, we know our students very well, and often we can connect students directly to opportunities that we know may be a good fit for their interests and experience.”

The university has committed to helping students develop professionally in several ways. One is through the structure of the curriculum and by offering meaningful, immersive learning opportunities. On top of the courses and the curriculum, WPU also offers a wide array of career resources through the Office of Academic and Career Advising, including networking opportunities, events, workshops, one-on-one coaching and advising, access to alumni mentors, career fairs, employer visits and more.

In addition to subscribing to the nation’s #1 leading career platform called Handshake, the office also keeps an internal website for students where they post opportunities that have been shared with the school directly. There are also dedicated class times and required professional development courses to prep students for the internship search and experience.

WPU student Cierra Baker is on track to graduate early and has completed two internships during her time at the school. She credits WPU and its resources as being a key influence in her personal and professional growth.

“I was recruited to come play basketball, and on my tour, I actually knew nothing about William Peace University beforehand. After I did my tour here, it just felt like home. I liked the environment, and I thought I’d be able to excel here — it’s the best of both worlds,” said Baker. “All the academic and career advisors and people who work in the Career and Design Center are great. They want to see students succeed, help them and grow into the person they want to be. You don’t always get that support from the professional staff at other schools, but you do at William Peace.”

Baker secured her first internship with the help of a WPU alumni connection, where she worked with the Wake County Sheriff’s Office and got hands-on experience in each department. Her second internship connection was made through her First-Year Seminar teacher and advisor, Kasha Klinegores, now the Director of Academic and Career Advising. Through that internship with North Carolina Supreme Court Justice Phil Berger, Jr., she has been inspired to pursue a career in law.

“I’ve learned a lot in my second internship. For one, it’s clarified what I want to do in my future, then it’s also given me hands-on experience in learning what legal processes look like and the amount of effort it takes to know how to do it and to be successful. Whenever I would finish reading or editing a document, I would give it to one of the clerks and vice versa — so we all work together to make sure we’re producing the best quality of work,” said Baker. “I was able to learn so much that I was able to narrow my career path and figure out what I like specifically. The experiences I’ve had through my internships have shown me so much, and I plan on going to law school in 2023.”

In addition to internships, WPU offers a number of other seminars, events and resources for career readiness. Baker recommends that students stay in touch with WPU Academic and Career Advising for regular updates on jobs and internships.

Each fall and spring semester, WPU hosts an internship showcase, where students who were in the internship course that semester present to an audience of employers, supervisors, faculty, staff and other students about what they learned through their internship experience.

“They reflect on challenges they overcame, memorable moments, skills they developed and also how they’re going to apply their experience to their future — whatever the next step is after graduation, they reflect on how their internship experience will help prepare them for that,” said Klinegores. “It’s an exciting event where students get to showcase their learning, but it’s also a great professional opportunity in itself to practice public speaking skills in front of varied audiences.”

Through the internships, coursework, networking opportunities and more, Klinegores and her team hope to see students leave WPU fully equipped for their next step.

“Many students come to college unsure of exactly what they want to do, or they’re not sure how they can get there. I see our students embracing the unknown. They are leaning into this sometimes challenging experience of career development, and once they go through the entire curriculum and graduate, they are much more confident in themselves. They can articulate their skills and abilities, and they know how to apply it all in the future,” said Klinegores. “Wherever you fall on the spectrum of knowing what you want to do in the future or not, you can be successful here, and you will build important skills to take with you to the next step, whether that’s working or going to graduate school. We do a great job of preparing students to be productive in their professional lives.”

Original Article Source: WRAL