The Boerigter Center Goes to Washington!

Written By: Shonn Colbrunn, Executive Director, Boerigter Center for Calling and Career

This week I had the opportunity to visit Washington D.C. along with fellow Boerigter Center team members Matt Adkins and Chanda Slenk. We joined Dr. Scott VanderStoep, Dean of Social Sciences, and Dr. Tom Smith, the Dr. Leon A. Bosch ’29 Professor of Management, for two days of meetings and events related to Hope’s Washington Honors Semester.

Currently in its 44th year, the Washington Honors Semester draws around 25 students every spring to live, work, and learn in our nation’s capital. This year’s students are led by Dr. David Ryden, the Peter C. and Emajean Cook Professor of Political Science.

I was very excited to get a first-hand look at this program and see why it has been so successful for so long. In addition, I was very interested to learn more about the internship and job opportunities available to our students.

Members of the Boerigter Center team with Congressman Bill Huizenga

On Tuesday, we visited three internship sites: the office of Michigan Senator Gary Peters, the Heritage Foundation, and the office of Congressman Bill Huizenga. At each visit, we spoke with our students and their supervisors about their internship experience. As we talked with Bill Huizenga, he shared his appreciation for Hope interns – which says something coming from a Calvin grad!

On Wednesday, we participated with the students in their regular weekly public policy group interviews, where they get a chance to visit various organizations in D.C. and learn first-hand from their expertise. Finally, we attended an evening reception with alumni, parents, prospective families, and friends of the college. It was a great chance for our students to meet our alumni who have built their careers in the D.C. area. One special guest was our president elect, Matt Scogin, who shared words of welcome and excitement for things to come.

There are three main things I took away from this trip:

  • Our students are getting an AMAZING learning experiences. I was so impressed by the level of work our students get to do as interns. Their supervisors entrust them with important responsibilities, and they had many positive things to say about their job performance. The first thing I think about is the quality of the bullet points they will be able to add to their resumes! When you add in the exposure of living in a major city and their invigorating class discussions with Dr. Ryden, it is clear that students are having a rich learning and growing experience.
  • We have the potential to expand internship opportunities. During our visit, we wanted to get a feel for what internship opportunities would be relevant for students studying in fields other than political science. We were pleasantly surprised to learn that many of the opportunities are applicable to students studying business, economics, communications, history, and other subjects. Beyond those opportunities, I learned about even more from our local alumni.

Which leads me to my next point…

  • Our alumni base is strong – and energized! Washington D.C. is a city that attracts alumni of all ages, and I enjoyed meeting many of them on Wednesday evening. Abby Reeg from the Hope College Development Office has done an excellent job of staying connected with our alumni in the area. Also, in our internship site visits, I was happy to hear how strong of a reputation Hope has in the city. Clearly, our students and alumni have represented the college well over the years!

I’m looking forward to more students participating in the Washington Honors Semester in the years to come. It is truly a special program that brings Hope’s mission to life – preparing students for lives of leadership and service.

The Value of an Internship: Pam VanPutten ’87

With over half of the semester behind us, you may be starting your search for a job or internship for the spring or summer of 2019. This past week, I had the pleasure of speaking with Pam VanPutten ’87, Coordinator of Mentoring & Internships in the Center for Ministry Studies here at Hope. All who know her love her, and her advice is just as good.

What is the value of internships for college students?

“Internships are a wonderful way for students to get hands-on, practical experience working with an organization or business. Not only does this help equip students for working somewhere in the future, it also gives them insight into leadership, organizational structure, work ethic, and so many other valuable opportunities.

Students have been immersed in an academic culture for many years. Having the opportunity to be in the workforce allows them to see different expectations and give them ways to mature and grow. It also gives the student an opportunity to contribute to an organization and have a valuable impact. Students often come up with solutions or fresh insights that can be very valuable to an organization.”

How have you seen students grow personally and professionally through an internship program?

“Internships reveal the day-to-day details of a job. Administrative skills, communication skills, and specific expertise related to a job are often learned in an internship setting.  Students also have opportunities to learn the soft skills of life in an internship. Showing up on time, following through with projects, time management skills, adaptability, and working well as a team can be very valuable concepts to learn through an internship.”

How are the specific internship classes helpful in students reflecting and growing from their internship position?

“The Ministry Minor has an accountability component regarding internships. Every student is required to submit 4 journals each semester during their actual internship experience. The students are given prompts regarding their internship experience, what they are learning about various aspects of their internship and how they are developing personally. In the Ministry Minor, students are also asked to reflect on how their faith impacts their experience.

I have the privilege of reading and grading these journals for the Ministry Minor. The growth and development that comes from each student during their internship is amazing! There is a definite change in the student as well as a positive impact on the organization as well.”

VanPutten wanted to note how valuable she believes the experience of an internship can be and says,

“I highly encourage every student to take advantage of an internship experience during or after college. The amount of growth as well as the impact they can have an organization is limitless.”

Wherever you are in your internship search, the Boerigter Center would love to help you on your journey. Make an appointment today or call our office (616-395-7950) to get started!

Growing in the Real World with an Internship: Student Experiences

Looking for ways to build your resume and gain professional experience? An internship might be the best choice for you! Internships can prepare you for your career and life after college by letting you explore your interests. Many Hope students participate in experiential learning opportunities during the summer and during the school year. If you want to hear some of their stories, keep reading!

Jason Gomory is a senior majoring in Business and minoring in Leadership and Mathematics. He interned at Steelcase this summer and said about his experience that

“One of the most impactful learning experiences since being at Steelcase is, you must be passionate about the work that you are doing. This passion will help you in solving problems you don’t yet know how to solve. This passion will help to calm the nerves before walking into a meeting with senior leaders, and this passion will flow into your work and will lead you to excel as a member of any team you are apart of.”


Another senior who had a summer internship was Daniel Foy. He is majoring in Communications and interned at the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. When asking about his experiences, Daniel responded saying

“My internship at BCBSM was challenging, rewarding, and fun. It was incredible to work collaboratively with other interns and professionals in the Corporate Communications Department. Throughout my time, I participated in projects and wrote blogs to share with others inside and outside of the corporation. It was great to be able to apply the concepts I have learned in my classes here at Hope to Corporate America. I will forever be grateful for this opportunity!”

With an internship you will not only build your resume, but also, like Jason and Daniel, you will be able to develop your skills, put class theory into practice, and grow professionally. If you have any further questions about internships or need help with the search process, please explore the Boerigter Center for Calling Career’s website and click on the “prepare” section and/or stop by the Boerigter Center’s office located in DeWitt.


Internships with Jena Gasworth

“The only source of knowledge is experience.”- Albert Einstein

By the time a student graduates from Hope College they will have participated in some form of experiential learning opportunity. One way is through an internship! Here at the Boerigter Center for Calling and Career, Jena Gasworth works with students who are searching for these types of experiences.

Jena has answered 10 questions that Hope students typically have about internships:

1. What is your role at the new Boerigter Center for Calling and Career?

I work with all things related to internships. I meet with students who are seeking internships whether it is local, back home, or off-campus. I also work with internship faculty teaching internship courses and employers seeking interns.

2. What is your favorite part about working with internships

The internships I had while I was in college helped me discern what I wanted to do in higher education. I love helping students connect their interests to real world experiences.

3. About how many Hope students end up getting an internship?

Annually, we have about 300 Hope students who have an internship for credit. Hope’s Graduate Survey stated that as of 2017, 96% of students were involved in some kind of experiential experience such as an internship, DiscoverWork, student-faculty research, or off-campus study.

4. What resources should students take advantage of/focus on while searching for an internship?

Handshake is a great resource for looking for opportunities. “How-to” guides on our BCCC website are very helpful for resume and cover letter help which is essential for the internship process. Also, career fairs are good for networking with employers.

5. Which year is typical for students to get an internship? What is the timeline like?

Students can do an internship any year. Sophomore, junior, and senior year are most common because you need to have declared your major if you are seeking an internship for credit. Timeline-wise, there is a big push for summer internships starting in the fall. Some companies will wrap up all of their hiring up by Christmas. There is another big wave in the spring (Jan./Feb. for summer opportunities). Usually students should look a semester or two in advance for their internship.

6. Do I get credit for an internship?

It depends on the student’s declared major. They must take a course that is tied to their major, and their faculty supervisor must sign off on it. There is typically a four credit class where they meet outside of their internship. If the internship is over the summer, there is an online course that goes along with it.

7. If I do an internship that is not related to my major/career path, should I still put it on my resume?

Yes, absolutely! It is still experience that results in building transferable skills that can be taken with you to a job or another internship. Employers like seeing internship experience and the path that led you to apply at their business.

8. Are all internships unpaid?

It depends on the organization. I would say about half are unpaid.

9. What are the benefits of getting an internship local vs. in another state/country?

If a student does an internship through an off-campus study program like Chicago Semester or The Philadelphia Center, it is usually a full-time internship. On top of that it involves navigating a new city! Local internships are usually about 10-15 hours/week while juggling other classes and projects. Both give great working experiences.

10. Overall, do you have any advice for students about internships in general?

I advise students to apply for 20+ internships. Sometimes students get so fixated on one or two internships, and if they apply for more they have a better chance of getting one. Also, if you need any individual help the BCCC is here to help! If you put in the effort, it can open up more opportunities for job search and networking.

Sometimes, an internship can rule out something you do not want to do, and that is okay! Your attitude about it makes such a huge difference; what you put into the internship is what you get out of it.

The Boerigter Center for Calling and Career wants to help students in their search for internships. Students can use our readily available resources along the way. Come check out our new office on the first floor of DeWitt!

Insta-Story: A Millennial’s Unique Internship

Intern: Kelly Arnold, ’19

Major: Communications, Digital Marketing focus

Location: Hope College Public Affairs and Marketing

Kelly Arnold is a passionate learner and lover of all things media. Two summers ago, Kelly interned with the University of Michigan’s social media team, and this past summer she worked as a social media assistant for Hope’s Public Affairs and Marketing.

In 2016, her time at the University of Michigan was formative: She was able to work alongside the best in higher education social media and learn hands-on digital marketing and social media strategies. She took initiative and led projects, wrote best-practice blog posts, and conducted a data report looking at the over 1,000 social media accounts connected to the university.

She had another fantastic experience in the summer of 2017 as well, right here at Hope College. Her responsibilities included planning and executing Instagram/Snapchat stories and writing about social media best practices for the department’s blog. In addition, she was advising different departments around campus on digital strategy, and so much more!

Hope College’s Instagram stories are fairly recent additions, thanks to Kelly’s hard work. She was actually the woman behind the magic in implementing that social media feature this past summer. She said:

“During my time this summer, we were able to begin crafting a brand voice on Instagram and creating content that has worked to reach our students in a more specialized manner.”

This was such a positive, hands-on experience. Now hundreds of students tune in to those stories to find out the latest scoop on Hope College.

Beyond that, Kelly noted that she was pleasantly surprised at how open and encouraging the full-time professionals were towards her ideas and work. Her workplace environment was inclusive and fostered creative collaboration within the office. She was able to flourish in her brainstorming and project execution, because of this.

Kelly has some fantastic advice for anyone entering an internship in the future:

“You may discover you do not really enjoy completing your main project, or you might not agree with your supervisor some days. However, this is okay and actually quite reflective of the real world. Internships are your opportunity to not only build your resume but learn so much more about your own workplace strengths and preferences.” 

Whether you have dozens of work experiences, or are just starting to discover the options out there, pursuing an internship is a fantastic decision. Like Kelly, you have the opportunity to explore your field of interest and cultivate your strengths in the working world. Head to Hope’s job search platform, Handshake, to see what might be a great fit for you next spring or summer.

Come visit Kelly and our awesome team of student Career Advisors in the Career Development Center!

Internships – What Can They Do For You?

Image result for internship

“Be brave. Take risks. Nothing can substitute experience.” -Unknown


Many students nowadays have no idea what they want to do for a job or career because there are so many different fields of work to be exposed to. One way for a student to narrow down their options is to participate in internships. Internships are beneficial during school semesters or during the summer as they will always give you tangible skills that you can take back to any job.

Doing an internship has so many beneficial gains especially for a college student. Internships are a great way to gain experience which a lot of employers are now looking for. An internship would give you the opportunity to use the knowledge you have gained in the classroom and apply it to the real world. You will have the opportunity to know whether or not a certain career is for you before you commit to it.

During an internship you will have multiple chances to network and make new connections that may be advantageous to you in the future and you will also have the opportunity to establish relationships with mentors. There is a possibility that you will be able to get college credit or a certification, which is always great to know especially for those who have courses that require an internship. There is always the fact that you will accumulate new skills, gain a ‘real world’ perspective and have experience that will look great on your resume. Finally, internships might be a stepping stone to a permanent job at the company you’re interning for after graduation.

If you are looking for information about internships, Jena Gasworth is the CDC member you should talk to first. When asked why she thinks internships are important, she stated:

Internships are critical because they provide the opportunity for career discernment. Students gain valuable world experience, build professional relationships, and develop skills. This experience builds your resumé and assists in the post-graduation job search.

Tyler Dunifin is a senior who is graduating this May and has a job lined up after with the company he has been interning for. When asked why he thinks doing an internship is important, he said:

Internships are important because they give you an opportunity to do a ‘trial run’ of working in a certain company or industry before you make the decision to commit to the job full-time. I worked as an intern full-time from January through mid-April in 2016 and now I’m working two days per week as an intern at the same company, and I have learned through this process that the work I have done throughout my internship really is the type of work that I want to be doing when I leave college. An added benefit that I was able to gain from my internship was the security of knowing that I will have a full-time job when I graduate from Hope.

In the graduating class of 2015, 92% of students had participated in experiential learning, 57% of students had participated in at least one internship and 26% of students had participated in more than one internship. You can find more of these statistics in the grad survey, which also has many different interesting facts concerning post-graduate life.

The Internship fair will be held in Maas auditorium on Thursday, February 2, 2017 from 3:00-5:00 pm. Attire is business causal. Make sure to bring copies of your resumé, as this will be a great opportunity for you to meet with employers and learn more about internship opportunities. You can also book an appointment with Jena Gasworth at the Career Development Center – she is more than happy to discuss your options with you!


The Philadelphia Program – Experiential Learning at Its Finest

Image result for try new things

“A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions”  – Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

If you are considering studying off-campus to gain valuable ‘real world’ experience while also earning credits towards your degree, The Philadelphia Center could be perfect program for you! Students have the opportunity to do an internship, live in the “City of Brotherly Love,” earn sixteen credits, and gain a better understanding of how to transition from college life to the professional world.

Dr. Annie Dandavati is the current executive director of The Philadelphia Center. She taught at Hope College for 24 years serving as the director of Women’s Studies, International Studies, and most recently, the chair of the Political Science department. She graciously gave us an opportunity to interview her, and she offered us some insightful information about The Philadelphia Center.

What drew me to The Philadelphia Center was the program’s ability to offer a liberal arts curriculum while also giving students the opportunity for experiential learning in an urban environment. The students get to engage in a more diverse and cultural experience, all within the borders of the United States. The entire experience with The Philadelphia Center provides a place to discern what your calling is and what career path you should follow.

The program offers a series of internships, which is a practical way of experiencing and applying what students have learned in the classroom to professional settings.  There are over 800 internships that are currently available in the program. Within those internships, students can find something in almost any major of the liberal arts curriculum.

Once you arrive at the Center, you get the opportunity to prepare a customized learning plan in consultation with a faculty adviser to explore available internships. You go through a process where you (the student), faculty adviser, and supervisors all decide which internship is best for you. You would then interview at three different internships, providing you with essential interview experience. Students may not get their first pick, but an internship is guaranteed to every student in the program.

2017 will be the program’s 50th anniversary, which allows students to have a large alumni base. There are typically about 40 students that are accepted into the program, hailing from a range of 90 different liberal arts schools. This gives students the opportunity to not only experience a new city, but to meet new people from different backgrounds and academic institutions as well.

Exploring housing options is another aspect of the program that helps students practice their ‘real life’ transitions. They are assisted in looking for housing by working closely with the Center staff who interim rent residential spaces.

The Philadelphia Center also offers a summer program. It is two months long and gives each student eight credits. Five are for the internship and three are for the class. The housing is provided by the University of Pennsylvania.

Many students have remarked that this is a life changing program. It is an opportunity that facilitates making the transition between college and the real world a bit smoother.

This is a great opportunity to gain experiential learning! If you are interested in exploring this beneficial program heck out The Philadelphia Center’s website for more information!

Finding Your Fit

“The expert at anything was once a beginner.”

― Helen Hayes

We all know at least one person who has known what they wanted to do since the second grade. Those who, even then, had a straight forward answer to the very cliche question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” and followed it through until they graduated college. Did you ever envy them? Of course you did! Especially if you are like the majority of college students and don’t know what you want your career path to be, let alone your major. If you happen to be one of these people, do not worry at all. The CDC has great services to give you a start in the right direction.

Start Simple

If you are wondering where to begin in your major discernment or career search, your first step is to make an appointment with Amy Freehafer. She is a Career Counselor here at the CDC and is the main administrator for StrengthsQuest through Gallup. StrengthsQuest is a useful tool in which the person answers a series of questions to find their top five strengths out of the 34 that they identify with the most.

When asked what a good first step would be for those looking for direction, Amy has some good advice:

“If you have not taken StrengthsQuest that should be the first thing on your agenda.  After taking the StrengthsQuest, coming in for coaching is important. This will give you an understanding of your results and how to apply them. StrengthsQuest will help you figure out who you are and this can the be applied to the different courses or career paths that your strengths fit into best. If by the end of this [process] you do end up finding your career, then there are further ways that I can assist.”

There are also two more assessments that are career related that Amy can work with you through – the Strong Interest Inventory (SII) and Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). Like StrengthsQuest, these assessments are personality based and can help you figure out more of who you are as a person to help in your major/career search.

Another way to figure out what direction you want to go is to find an internship. Internships are great for when students want to get a feel for the field they are thinking about going into. They are also useful for connecting what you have learned in the classroom to the real world, and networking. If you are unsure that the field you want to go into is the right one for you, an internship would be most helpful for you. Jena Szatkowski is your go to person if you want help setting up internships.

When asked how internships help students, Jena had some encouraging words:

“Internships are a great idea because it can affirm or redirect you onto a certain path. JobStop has about 200 different internships you can look at to get a feel of the different things that are offered. There are programs that you can do, some examples are The Philadelphia Center, New York Arts, Washington Honors, Chicago Semester and IES internships. Remember, an internship can either affirm or redirect you to a certain path.”

One of the Career Advisors that works in the CDC Office, Hadley Roy, commented on how both Amy and Jena helped her make progress in her career path:

“Coming into Hope as a Junior with an Econ major and Management minor, Amy helped me see if the idea of double majoring in both of those areas was feasible. Jena also played a big role in my career planning, as she (combined with Sarah McCoy) helped to get me my internship last summer with Commonwealth//McCann. This was a good affirmation that I was in the right field!”

As you can see, the CDC has many ways to help you figure out the next step in your major or career planning. Stop in soon or call us at 616-395-7950 to make an appointment today!

Summer Fun, Sun, and Jobs!

The semester is flying by, and summer is just around the corner! We hope that your summer is filled with fun and some much needed rest, but we also hope that you take some time to expand upon your career exploration process! Whether you’re working a summer job, interning with an organization, or even just taking time to consider what kind of career path interests you, summer is great for building your resume, expanding your network, and developing your career!

Career Advisor Gaby Vazquez gives some advice regarding summer career development, stating:

Gaby Vazquez helping at a recruitment event with Ernst & Young
Gaby Vazquez helping at a recruitment event with Ernst & Young

“Summers are some of the most awaited moments for college students. The feeling of freedom and liberty along with the warm air that accompanies the season are what we look forward to during finals week. While it is good to take a break and relax with family and friends, there is so much that we can do during the summer to prepare ourselves for the new school year. Work and volunteer experiences can be just as fun as spending the day at the beach! You just need to find a field that you’re really interested in. Finding somebody to job shadow for just part of the summer can do wonders for your resume and can develop your own interests. One summer I worked as a camp counselor, meeting tons of new people and working with kids. The following summer, I completed a pre-internship with an accounting firm I was interested in, which led to a second full internship for the next summer. Both summers were valuable in different ways, and being proactive during those seasons helped me discover my interests. Whether it be working at an ice cream shop or interning at a bank, doing something during the summer can be a great way for anyone to develop valuable skills.”

Career Advisor Stephanie Eiler also offers some advice on how to approach career development strategies this summer, saying:

“When someone thinks of summer, the first thing that pops into one’s mind is relaxation. While relaxation is great and all, summer can also be an opportunity for internships, job shadowing, and working on your LinkedIn profile.

Stephanie Eiler
Stephanie Eiler

Internships are a great way to expand what you have learned in the classroom and apply that knowledge to the real world. For some people, an internship can turn into a job offer if there is a job opening.

By job shadowing someone, you are able to see what a typical day looks like for someone in the career you are interested in.

LinkedIn is yet another way to get connected with peers, professors, and people in the workplace. By having a LinkedIn profile, employers are able to see your accomplishments throughout your time at Hope.”

If you have any thoughts or questions about how to go about your summer career exploration process, don’t hesitate to come talk to us at the CDC! We’ll be open during the summer, Monday through Friday, normal business hours, so definitely stop by and see us!

Career Exploration for International Students

We are encouraged to improve our career exploration all the time. We find ourselves needing to look for internships, interview well, create strong resumes, etc. What if you’re trying to do all this when you’re from a different country? What does that look like?

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Hope College senior Sasha Yonov is an international student, hailing from Nicosia, Cyprus. We asked him to write about his career exploration experience here in the States. Here’s what he had to say:

“International students in general have to jump across many obstacles to experience the same opportunities as all the other students do from the United States. Such obstacles include learning the English language to an advanced degree in order to keep up with the material being taught on a collegiate level. I was fortunate enough to have gone to an English school growing up, therefore, English was not the issue for me. A lot of international students do indeed learn the language to an advanced level however, the hardest thing that any of us has to do, is to leave our own families and learn how to survive on our own. Upon arriving to the United States, many of us, including myself, go through a cultural shock. A cultural shock is a phase, experienced by someone who is suddenly subjected to an unfamiliar culture, way of life, and a set of attitudes where the feeling of disorientation is immense and at times hard to endure, but absolutely doable!

Another obstacle was applying for a Student Visa. It wasn’t as difficult to tackle as the cultural shock. The Visa process was straight forward because being accepted to attend a college, the US embassies receive all the necessary documents for them not to deny your visa application. In some special occasions, they do deny applications, but rarely! What I had to do is gather all of my personal and Hope College documentations, make an appointment with a US representative and “voila”, that obstacle is no more. I received my European passport with my visa, ready to book my flight to Grand Rapids, MI a week later.

As far as the CPT process is concerned, applying for it was not a difficult process either. The difficult part was finding the right internship and the right employer willing to hire an international student. A lot of employers do not hire international students because their internships are designed to see how well that particular intern will perform in order to be given a full time opportunity in the future. The problem is that international students need to be sponsored by the company/employer, which will cost them money to apply for the sponsorship.

I was lucky enough to have found two internships (one of them is a current internship) thus far, that have allowed me to gain experience and develop my skills. Part of that, I believe, had to do with that fact that I have been involved in many different events/activities around Hope over the years, including being part of the basketball team. Being part of the basketball team, even though only for two seasons, has allowed me to meet many extraordinary people that are still a part of my life. These connections have helped me learn more about life and guide me through the process of searching for employment opportunities.

There will always be people to help you, but at the end of the day, it is you as an individual that will have to ask, search, and pursue anything you want to. This does not only apply to international students, but to all students!

My first internship was with Zoro Tools, a subsidiary of Grainger in Chicago. It was a great experience to be challenged outside of the classroom. It made it even better when I was surrounded by amazing people in a great atmosphere. Currently, I am interning at Royal Securities and Investments in Grand Rapids. With Royal, I am responsible for the accurate and detailed documentation of information of clients’ personal information. Royal too has allowed me to mature more as an individual, [and] I am truly gaining more experience in a different industry than my previous internship.

I am not sure what my next chapter of my life will look like, but if I were to give advice to other younger international students, it would be to be involved in the community [as well as] Hope events and activities because at the end of the day, no matter where and what one may be doing, one will always be in an occupation to make the lives of others better. Regardless of the type of employment a person is part of, people and our relationships between each other are what make life so precious. With that being said, I hope one day the work that I will be doing is not only important, but truly makes the lives of others better.”