Program Helps Students Know if Career Ideas Fit
'Explore the WOW' Pairs Participants with Area Businesses and Organizations
Mar. 30, 2011
Students tried career aspirations on for size recently in Explore the WOW!, a hands-on way to check out the “World of Work” without the longer-term commitment of an internship or job.
About 60 spent part of spring break visiting host business offices and attending staff meetings, assisting with projects, observing customer-client interactions and more.
Hayley Luther and Catherine Aliaga externed at the Dallas County Department of Criminal Justice.
It is the third year that the University’s Career Center has offered Explore the WOW! The program helps students determine whether the careers they are considering are a good long-term fit, said Lisa Garza, associate director of career services at the center.
“Through exposure to a work setting, students can learn more about job requirements, employer expectations and professionalism,” Garza said. “The added benefit is that they’ll also be able to find out if the path they’re on is the right one for them.”
Anna Nguyen, a sophomore international business major who was a guest of Susan G. Komen for the Cure, said her experience taught her to be more confident in a workplace setting.
“I have always wanted to seek a job in a nonprofit organization, and being able to extern at Komen has encouraged me to continue to work toward that goal,” Nguyen said.
Catherine Aliaga, a senior psychology major who visited the Dallas County Department of Criminal Justice, said her experience helped her understand aspects of her career path that she didn’t know existed.
“I have this new perspective on my career goals that is just invaluable,” Aliaga said. “Getting out in the real world with companies you hope to work for can be frightening. The Career Center offered advice for every step of the process, and this program was so well-run and organized that I knew exactly what was expected and what I would be participating in.”
Garza said that UT Dallas is the only university in the Metroplex offering this type of extern program, which was recognized recently by the National Association of Colleges and Employers.
The program not only benefits students but helps sponsoring organizations, too.
Randy Black, a certified financial planner with Spectrum Financial Group – and a School of Management alumnus – said Explore the WOW! has been a great way to keep his firm connected to up-and-coming talent at UT Dallas.
“Being an alumnus, I’m somewhat biased, but I believe we have the most talented and driven students in Dallas,” Black said. “These externs display a professionalism that most college students don’t have. In addition, their commitment to finding the right career path speaks to their maturity and potential to succeed in the professional world.”
“Our students are focused, academically driven and future-oriented,” Garza said. “An externship makes sense to them in terms of relationship building and résumé building – I believe that’s why the program grows in popularity each year.”