Spanish (Hispanic Studies) senior Kate Kovac
Being able to participate in the IE Pre-Graduate School Internship in the fall of my senior year is possibly the most useful and relevant experience I have had this semester with regard to my future. Before partaking in my internship, I had always assumed that I would attend graduate school even though I did not know for what specifically. As an undergraduate, I chose my major, Hispanic Studies, based on my love of the Spanish language and its applicability to many different career paths. Over my course of undergraduate study, interests outside of my field became very apparent and interrelated though very different from my chosen major of Spanish. I didn't quite know what to make of my interdisciplinary interests, and frankly, was starting to get scared with what was to come. Luckily, the Pre-Graduate School Internship and my mentor Erin Redmond came before things got scarier.
I'd first like to mention that being paired with Spanish PhD student Erin Redmond is nothing less than serendipity. Erin had not been a Spanish major as an undergrad nor had she been awarded her Masters in this subject either. Erin's education is wholly interdisciplinary, thus allowing her to be completely comfortable and supportive with the idea of me changing fields in graduate school, and furthermore, our interests are very much entwined. Erin and I agreed that our meetings would help me get a better grasp on what it means to be a graduate student as well as offer assistance in my application to graduate school. In the first few couple of my internship, I was able to sit in on a Spanish graduate course on teaching English as a second language and observe my mentor Erin teach her Spanish 312L undergraduate class. These being my first experiences with graduate school activity, I immediately realized a few important things. First, I realized with one hundred percent certainty that I did not want to continue to study Spanish in graduate school; second, I realized how much I would love to be a Teaching Assistant while in graduate school - or even an undergraduate professor as a PhD student! I became completely excited and motivated to make this a personal goal, and with Erin as an example, I feel that such an opportunity can be reached.
Our following meetings have involved more technical aspects of graduate school such as how to filter out and select eight to ten graduate schools to which I'd like to apply as well as writing a statement of purpose, obtaining reference letters and constructing a solid CV. We also have discussed at length the importance of academic conferences - and are looking for one to attend together this coming spring. Erin's guidance has helped to support and encourage me to find what I'd like to be my life's work, even if it is not in the Spanish field.
My refueled motivation led me to schedule a meeting with the Career Counseling Center in Jester which helped me immensely with subject matter that Erin was not familiar with: namely, counseling. My current and last Spanish class as a Spanish major is Hispanic Caribbean literature, and after learning about difficulties facing Latin American immigrants in their attempts to assimilate into mainstream American culture, I realized that I would love nothing more than to use my grasp of the Spanish language and culture in school counseling.
As an undergraduate, nearly all of my electives and minor classes have been related to communications, psychology and human development/family sciences. Understanding human behavior completely fascinates me, and from a young age, I have always been the friend that people open up to, offering advice. Upon reflection about the idea of counseling, I remembered my fondest memory that I have with my younger brother when he was a freshman in college. I remembered his unhappiness at his school, his discouragement about his current grades and his general feeling of being lost. He called me one day, and we talked at length about following his intuition to find a way out of his current situation. Offering him encouraging words, support and most importantly, someone to listen, I realized that motivating him to realize that he is in control of his future is possibly the best feeling I've ever had in my life.
Additionally, I reflected on my internship last semester at the For the Love of Christi Center, which is a non-profit organization that offers free group grief counseling to all ages. Honestly, I had always thought about my inclination to intern there as being random with regard to my Spanish major, but after putting together the pieces of my various interests, it fit in perfectly with what I believe I'd like to do.
And so, what began as an incredibly overwhelming and confusing semester ended up being calm and focused now that I have peace of mind about my future interests. I am still currently in the process of gathering all of my application materials, and immediately after my finals this fall, everything will be sent out! I am exceedingly grateful for the opportunity to have this experience, and I would recommend it to anyone even slightly considering graduate school. I remember Johanna mentioning at our first IE meeting together that this internship is meant to give clarity to your thoughts about graduate school, even if it means that you figure out that you absolutely do not want to go to graduate school. I completely agree that clarity has been brought into my life, and even if you do not know exactly what your graduate interests might be, it is entirely possible to find clear organization amidst the seemingly utter chaos.