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Humanities students can find vital opportunites for internships in renovated Reavis Hall office

March 20, 2013
Cathy Doederlein stands in her Reavis Hall 306-A office.

Cathy Doederlein stands in her Reavis Hall 306-A office.

Cathy Doederlein, internship coordinator for the humanities in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, spent a lot of time on campus growing up: “I definitely consider myself a kid of the university,” she says.

Both of her parents, Sue and Arthur Doederlein, came to the area in 1969. Since then, the Doederlein name has been a fixture at NIU.

Arthur Doederlein, a retired professor in the communication department who died last year, left a far-reaching legacy of helping students.

“That definitely solidified my decision to come here,” Cathy says. “I’ve had so many students of his reach out to express gratitude for what he did for them while they were in college. I’ve seen that you can make an impact and a difference in students’ lives.”

Today, Doederlein heads a newly renovated internship office located on the third floor of Reavis Hall.

After earning both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from NIU, she spent several years in the private sector, working primarily in human resources at Target, and in customer service and sales at a media distribution company in downtown Chicago.

“I always thought I was going to eventually go on to get my Ph.D.,” she says when she talks about her decision to return to NIU. “I was so excited because this opportunity gave me a chance to come back to an educational setting while maintaining my ties to the corporate world.”

In 2012, the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) conducted a survey that revealed that 60 percent of 2012 college graduates who participated in a paid internship received at least one job offer. Comparatively, only 36 percent of graduates with no internship experience received job offers. It’s clear that internships are becoming increasingly important for recent graduates looking for that first job.

Besides the obvious benefits of networking and experience, Doederlein says, internships also help students define their career paths, which aren’t always obvious within the humanities.

Cathy Doederlein

Cathy Doederlein

“Our office can offer advice about the kinds of things you can do with your English degree or history degree or philosophy degree – beyond things like teaching, or other more traditional set paths that people have defined. We provide guidance and give people new directions to look that they might not have thought of on their own.”

Cathy and her graduate assistant, Jason Farr, spend most of their time strategizing, collaborating and researching with students to prepare them for the best opportunities. They also independently reach out to employers in order to establish long-term working relationships that can help students find employment.

Recent students have interned at several Chicagoland television stations, publishing companies and various university offices and programs. She’s also helped students apply for more exotic opportunities including the Sundance Film Festival and the “Daily Show with Jon Stewart.”

In addition to these services, Doederlein and Farr also offer more general assistance for students, including interview coaching, and résumé and cover letter reviews.

“I wish I had taken more advantage of the services available from things like that when I was a student,” Doederlein says.

Humanities graduate and undergraduate students who are interested in internships can begin the process by visiting the internships page on the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences website, or by emailing [email protected]. The office is located in Reavis Hall Room 306-A. Call (815) 753-1016 for more information.

“It’s never too early or too late,” she says, “I’ve helped place students in their last semesters, and I’ve had students come to me in their freshmen years. I always feel happy when a student says how helpful it was to get heading in the right direction.”

by Cameron Orr