Whether coaching a state champion high school baseball team or working in the regional office of a U.S. senator, students quickly discover that experiential learning is a key feature of the academic mission of Defiance College. In the 2009 National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE), Defiance College seniors ranked above the norm in completion of a community-based project as part of regular coursework.
These off-campus experiences provide students with the skills, perspectives, and contacts that will make them more competitive in professional settings upon graduation.
Dr. Tim Rickabaugh, interim academic dean and former sport science experiential learning coordinator, has had plenty of experience in placing students in internships. “In that role, I was very proud of our students' accomplishments at highly visible settings such as the U.S. Olympic Training Center, the Detroit Tigers community relations department, and the Harvard University Department of Athletics. However, I was equally proud of their local impact on youth at the Defiance Area YMCA, the Lucas County Metropark System, and within local public school systems.”
He adds: “Without quality experiential learning opportunities, DC students would not be able to fully experience our mission, to know, to understand, to lead, and to serve.”
Internships within a program of study provide some of the most valuable skills through on-the-job learning experience and professional networking opportunities. Defiance students intern at a wide array of businesses, offices, and agencies.
Business students may find themselves interning for accounting firms or retail businesses, while social work students receive valuable onsite experience through children and family service agencies, the court system, hospice facilities, a homeless shelter, or crisis intervention services.
For criminal justice majors looking to enter the law enforcement profession, internships have been conducted at locations such as area sheriff and police departments, adult and juvenile probation, prosecutors' offices, Corrections Center of Northwest Ohio, and the Juvenile Detention Training and Rehabilitation Center.
Students enrolled in the education program are required to complete intensive hands-on classroom experience. Some areas require an early practicum, spending half-days as an apprentice to a master teacher. All education majors must complete a semester (15 weeks) of full day teaching experience.
History major Laura Derov interned as a historic interpreter at Hale Farm and Village through the Western Reserve Historical Society. “Interning allowed me to discover more career opportunities in the history field,” she said. “My position as an interpreter also allowed me to apply my historical knowledge and expand my knowledge of Ohio history.”
Some unique and memorable internships of 2009 included senior Justin Schafer's internship as an assistant coach with the Patrick Henry High School baseball team. The sport management major worked with team members as their season took them on an amazing journey to the Division 4 State Tournament. The Patriots won the state championship, and Schafer earned a championship ring.
“Having the chance to intern at Patrick Henry was a great opportunity to hone my skills,” says Schafer. He notes that his mentors at the high school taught him many valuable skills in preparation for a career as a coach or athletic director. “I know that what I have learned during this internship will only help me in my future,” he adds.
Another senior, history and international global studies major Kyle Shong spent several weeks as an intern in the Cleveland office of U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown. Working as an administrative assistant, Shong saw the inner workings of government and spent much of his time advocating for Ohioans who needed help. The experience was a valuable learning tool for Shong who wants to enter public service after graduation.