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Externships and workshops invigorate CDO

The Career Development Office (CDO) is continuing its mission to ensure Grinnell students are well-prepared to enter the workforce—with polished resumes, superb interviewing skills, and a myriad of connections. 

Abby Trout discusses ways to improve upon your resume. Photograph by Kathlyn Cabrera

In addition to preparing students for the workforce, the CDO also helps build students’ interpersonal skills and provides resources to enrich their educational experience, although a common misconception is that the CDO is only useful for upperclassmen. 
“The CDO isn’t just for seniors,” Megan Crawford, Assistant Director of Career Development & Internship Coordinator, said. “We offer all sorts of programs for different years. We have a four-year success plan for students, with different things to accomplish each year. We can work on your resume, help you find internships, connect you to alumni and more.” 

For underclassmen, opportunities abound at the CDO. Dylan Gray ’14 has already taken advantage the programs. 

“They really helped me improve my resume by editing it down to one page. I’m also applying for the externships program,” Gray said. 

The CDO brought back the externship program this year. Targeted at first- and second-years, this program allows students to do an extended job shadow with an alumnus, and lodging is often included or at the alumnus’s home. By living and working with the alum, students are able to forge a strong connection while acquiring new skills.

“We’re really excited about the program. It’s a great opportunity for students to gain unique experience and make those new connections,” Crawford said. “Connections always help to get you places, and we want to make sure the students can make and use those connections, especially with our alums.”

The CDO recently updated its databases on internships, including sorting hundreds of internships done by Grinnellians into majors, locations and job types. The databases also include Grinnell-exclusive internships offered by alumni. The CDO provides many resources to ensure students from all class years are able to do an internship. 

“There is funding for some summer internships, averaging about $3,500 to $4,000 to cover food, lodging and transportation,” Crawford said. “You may not end up making money, but that makes it possible to do [an unpaid internship] without breaking the bank.”

The CDO also has prepared a wealth of events for this semester, promoted and designed by its employees, including a “wine and dine etiquette dinner.” This dinner is meant to “provide an opportunity for students to practice their manners in a less-stressful setting, so they are confident in themselves when they enter the professional world,” Crawford said. The dinner will be connected to lessons on professional etiquette and other interpersonal skills. 

Another resource offered by the CDO this year is their series of events related to getting admitted to graduate schools. Targeted towards third-years, these events cover LSAT, MCAT, and GRE preparation, interview skills, grant writing, and searching for graduate programs.

“We’ve got a lot of students at Grinnell that are interested in proceeding to grad school,” Crawford said. “We are trying to provide many resources to make their experience as smooth as possible.”

Many students are worried about finding a job after graduation. The CDO wants to allay those fears by providing students with a large wealth of experience to draw upon. Gray sees the CDO’s programs and opportunities as an important component in his undergraduate experience and beyond.

“In an economy with unemployment still hovering above eight percent, being able to find a job coming out of undergraduate and gaining experience and connections is extremely important to me. I hope [the CDO] continues to add resources and opportunities for the students,” Gray said.

Among the more recent additions to the CDO are programs targeted towards certain organizations or majors. Joe Lytle ’14 appreciated having workshops specific to certain students. 

“I attended one of the resume workshops for athletes. It was good for getting me on the right track,” Lytle said. 

With two new employees this year, the CDO is fully staffed and ready to serve students. Other informational sessions will deal with internship funding, preparing for interviews, job searching, cover letter writing, networking, and graduate school preparation. A full schedule of events can be found online at 

The CDO is more excited than ever to help students reach new heights and be ready to take on the outside world.

“There’s a big myth that you need a suit and a resume before you walk into the CDO,” Crawford said. “But you can walk in completely confused, and we’ll be ready to help you.”

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