Name: Kimberly Swanson
Class of: 2009
Position: Complex Coordinator
Employer: Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Summary: While attending Rivier College, Kimberly took advantage of the various clubs and organizations available to all students. She became actively involved in both student government and student orientation. Kim was an orientation leader at Riv for two summers and became Assistant Coordinator her third summer there. She served on the Student Government Association board in various positions and became SGA President her senior year. Kim used her free time to volunteer in Student Activities. This gave her the opportunity to select and organize various student programs & events which she enjoyed very much.
By what means did you acquire your two internships?
I did my first internship at the Webster House in Manchester to fulfill my social work requirement. I obtained that internship by working closely with Sally Booth, Director of Social Work Programs. Once I expressed my interest in working with children who reside in group homes, she knew exactly where to place me. After my interview with Webster House, I was offered the opportunity to intern there for the semester.
My second internship took much more work to obtain. I wanted to gain experience in the student affairs career field, which doesn’t fall under any degree related course credit for an internship. I was fortunate to be able to work with Paula Randazza, Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs, and Sally again to set up an independent internship. Through the use of Blackboard and regular meetings, Paula and I worked together while Sally made everything possible. When I was approved to do this internship on my own, I still had to find a college willing to host me as an intern at their institution. I researched countless schools, focusing on Residence Life where I had no experience. After interviewing with the Director of Residential Services at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, I was offered an opportunity to intern in their office, which I graciously accepted.
How did your extra-curricular activities help you with your career choice and with your ability to get a successful position upon graduation?
My Student Government Association (SGA) experience ultimately gave me more opportunities than I thought were possible. SGA opened doors for me to get involved with orientation and student activities. My SGA advisor, Paula Randazza, became my mentor as she guided me through the process, especially while I was President. She played such an immensely positive role to me through SGA that I now thank her for helping me choose my career path.
The leadership skills I gained from SGA are immeasurable. In the beginning I was a quiet student, but because of my involvement with SGA I was able to become a well known student leader that other students looked up to and trusted. SGA gave me the leadership skills and qualities needed to enter into a position in student affairs. I became so passionate about SGA that my goal was to become President by graduation. Through my dedication and hard work, I was able to achieve that goal.
What was your most important accomplishment while attending Rivier?
During my junior year, I thought my greatest accomplishment would be being selected Assistant Coordinator of Orientation. Having been selected meant that other people realized my skills, dedication and potential to affect change. However, my greatest accomplishment was being elected Student Government Association President. Becoming President allowed me to effectively change the structure and level of student involvement within the organization. It allowed me to see how hard work and dedication can create change.
What type of services available at the Career Development Center (CDC) did you utilize?
During my sophomore year I wasn’t exactly sure what I wanted to do. I decided to register for a course, Campus to Career, which is taught by a CDC staff member. This class was very beneficial. It helped me to choose a major and lead me to a career field I would be interested in. It also allowed me to see what I did and didn’t want to do through a process of informational interviews with professionals and researching possible career interests. Of course, it also helped that Marie Sullivan, Assistant Director, taught it with such enthusiasm. Through Campus to Career, I learned what type of services CDC had available for students and what resources were available online. I utilized these services throughout my entire college career. I also had Marie critique my resume before sending it out. She continued to help me with multiple drafts of my resume until it looked sharp enough to send out.
What type of job search techniques did you find most valuable (i.e. internships, networking, student activities/involvement, etc.)?
While completing my internship at WPI, I began to focus on my job search. I became aware that WPI had a Residence Life position available months prior to the job being publicly posted. This gave me the opportunity to bring my completed cover letter and resume to the department head my last day in May and express my interest in the job. This allowed my internship to turn into a part-time job which led to a full-time position starting the first week after graduation.
Based on your experience, what advice would you give current students to better prepare them for their careers?
Every student should be involved on campus. Get out of your room, your residence hall, and your comfort zone. You don’t have to be an SGA President, you don’t have to dedicate 20 hours a week to an organization, just get involved in something you’re interested in and you’ll see that if you love it, it will be worth every precious second. College is a learning experience both inside and outside of the classroom. Don’t miss out on what could turn out to be the best part of your college experience. Everything I did in college had a positive impact on something else. While SGA opened many doors for me, I continued to work hard on opening many more. While attending conferences, I was able to network and meet both students and advisors from other colleges which gave me the opportunity to get familiar with different schools. In the end, if had I not obtained an internship working in residential life with adult students, I might not have found my passion and I might still be unsure of the direction I wanted to go upon graduation. Most people will tell you internships are a great experience, however I think that is such an understatement. Internships will give you the opportunity to meet new people and help you expand your network. Knowing people can get you further than encompassing an abundance of knowledge. Networking is a must, but if you’re not sure where to start, an internship can definitely help!