May 04, 2016 | By NACE Staff
Spotlight for Career Services Professionals
At Wheelock College, all academic programs are focused on social justice and human rights. The college has a policy that calls for each student to have at least one field-based experience throughout his or her academic career.
“Because Wheelock College is a private college with a public mission to improve the lives of children and families, we can’t enact our mission without sending our students out into the world,” explains Linda Banks-Santilli, interim dean for graduate and professional programs at Wheelock College.
She points out that this mission requires the application of knowledge, skills, dispositions, and abilities to real-world settings in education, child life, social work, juvenile justice and nonprofit leadership.
“No one, for example, would want to have a teacher who only read about how to teach, or a social worker who understood her work theoretically, but had never practiced,” she says. “Our faculty values the intersection between theory, research, and practice. Our practice-based education is a cornerstone of the Wheelock experience.”
Wheelock partners with more than 280 organizations in the greater Boston area through its internships and practice-based models of learning. Its goal, Banks-Santilli says, is to produce citizens of the world, and skilled and knowledgeable professionals who enact Wheelock’s mission.
“We require our undergraduate students to take our signature human growth and development course,” Banks-Santilli notes. “This course helps students understand cognitive, social, emotional, physical, and socio-cultural development across the lifespan from conception through late adulthood. It requires a field-based experience in which they carry out their academic assignments and conduct child observations.”
There are four types of field-based experiences at Wheelock College:
Wheelock’s field experience office staff members work alongside social work and child life field education coordinators to arrange internships, practicums, and field-based experiences for students. Their work includes developing new relationships with schools, community-service agencies, hospitals, and medical settings, and nurturing those partnerships over time. They also interview students individually so that they are able to match them with professionals at internship sites.
The field experience office staff educates and trains staff members at partner sites about any new professional requirements related to licensing or accreditation, and they communicate regularly about the college’s policies and procedures related to internships and practicum. Additionally, the field experience staff works regularly with faculty who help determine quality sites that reflect the philosophy of Wheelock’s academic programs. They also share feedback from site partners about students, and address issues and concerns.
“We value our relationships with community partners and acknowledge the impact they have on our students and institution through vouchers for a free course, tickets to our award-winning Wheelock Family Theatre, and opportunities to co-teach or guest-speak in related courses,” Banks-Santilli explains.
In a recent event sponsored by the career services department, community partners volunteered to meet individually with students to provide them with feedback on their resumes and to conduct mock-interviews.
“Through this work, these internship sites become potential employment sites over time,” Banks-Santilli adds.
For schools considering a large-scale experiential program, Banks-Santilli also recommends:
Percent of institutions conducting First-Destination Surveys
Median number of professional staff
Percent of career centers with employer partnership programs
Percent of staff time spent student-facing
2021-22 Career Services Benchmarks Survey