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In a school as expansive as the University of Michigan, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed — especially if you’re a first-year student. Most first-years would agree that it’s challenging to be future-oriented while you’re still learning how to navigate campus or figuring out if you like your choice of major. This is where the Hub’s ALA courses comes in handy. For first-year LSA student Kate Sullivan, taking ALA 125: Positioning Yourself for a Successful Internship was a last-minute addition that had huge gains during her LSA experience thus far.
At the heart of the course is articulating the answer to one question: how do you want to use your liberal arts education towards achieving your professional goals? The answer: finding ways to explore what interests you and starting that exploration process early. “For a lot of students who didn’t know what they wanted to do with their time at Michigan, ALA 125 gave us the chance to explore” says Kate, who found that the workload of the course made it manageable amongst all her responsibilities. At the core of the syllabus is working collaboratively with your peers and your course instructors to navigate the exploration of careers.
Many students walk away from ALA 125 having built their first resume and cover letter, filled out an internship or job application, and reached out to alumni in the fields they are interested in. The low-stress environment makes all of this achievable and the small class-room setting allows student connections to form naturally. For Kate, this meant being able to connect with two pivotal alumni, a current medical student and lab manager, about their respective experiences. The result? Their conversations solidified her desire to pursue the pre-med track. Before taking ALA 125, Kate wasn’t clear on how to connect with alumni but resources introduced in the course, such as UCAN and the LSA Opportunity Hub, made a process that seemed daunting, actually possible.
Even though the course is officially done, the work the students completed will carry them through their time at LSA and beyond. Smart goal-setting is just one of the many professional skills these students will walk away with. Understanding how to set specific goals, creating a game plan to achieve them, and learning how to pivot and readjust as things change is just one of the skills Kate says she’ll take with her into the workplace. “With the skills and resources from the course, I was able to land a lab job on campus in a topic I’m interested in,” adds Kate, who hopes that she can apply these skills when she starts looking for internships and full-time positions post-grad.