English Graduate Student Paul Michels

Paul MichelsMy experience with Professor Cherwitz's IE Pre-Graduate Internship program proved rewarding for both my intern and myself. Due to the activities that we engaged in, my intern was able to broaden her field of graduate school possibilities to include options that she was previously unaware of. My intern and I spent the semester establishing a foundation from which she would be able to make the most appropriate decision for her graduate school future. This foundation involved the collection of data on possible programs that reflected her diversity of interests. This data included such practical matters as funding, geography, possibilities for interdisciplinary studies, character of the faculty, size of the department, placement of graduates, and so on. In addition, my intern learned how to obtain faculty descriptions, research agendas, and actual publications in order to fully asses and then compare graduate programs. In addition to this research, my intern engaged local faculty, graduate students, and professionals in her field to solicit further information about possible programs and insights as to standards to evaluate these programs.

Overall, by creating a rubric of information, my intern was able to begin the process of fully evaluating and comparing her graduate school possibilities so that she would be able to make the most appropriate choice given the breadth of variables involved. Recognizing that I was not afforded this opportunity to really explore the choices I made pertaining to graduate school, I know that my intern now has a greater set of tools to engage the process.

I attribute my personal gain from the experience to two different realms. First, I found the experience extremely rewarding as I watched my intern grow and mature into what can be a defining decision. I was pleased to witness my intern move from a position of relatively little knowledge about graduate programs and possessing relatively few analytic tools with which to choose between these programs to a position of relative authority in regards to her desires and needs. Second, I was pleased to be a part of a program which allowed me to rethink some of my assumptions about my own position within a university, within a college, within a department, with particular faculty, with my colleagues. In assisting my intern to assess her goals, values, and desires for her graduate education, I was simultaneously reassessing my own position within a graduate program. Whether that solidifies the choices I have made or propels me to make appropriate adjustments to my graduate career, I not only extend my sincere appreciation to Professor Cherwitz and his staff for the opportunity, but I highly recommend it.