Academic Internships Pave the Way to Career Success


Photo: FedEx intern

By Carrie Tahu ’09

As my walk across the stage at Fisher Garden for graduation this May draws nearer, I find that an increasing number of people—especially my parents—are asking me the same question: “So, what comes next?” As Rhodes parents, you might be wondering about your own son or daughter’s career interests and, more specifically, how they can steer themselves towards a specific career path in a liberal arts setting. 

Rhodes′ Academic Internship program offers students the perfect opportunity to apply the knowledge and skills they are learning inside the classroom to a professional setting outside the classroom. During either the fall or spring semester of their junior or senior year, students can work 10 hours per week with a selected employer and receive four hours of academic credit in lieu of a paycheck. 

Over 60% of Rhodes students participate in an academic internship before graduation and, according to program director Sandi George Tracy, the experience they gain is invaluable. “It’s a great way for students to see their education in play and test out an environment,” she says. “It also gives the student a chance to develop practical skills. Regardless of whether you’re going into graduate school or into the world of work, everyone wants you to have some related experience.” 

No more than 25% of the work a student completes in an academic internship may be of a clerical nature, and the employer must provide an accountable, professional mentor to the student.  So not only do students develop practical skills through the program, but they also gain the opportunity to network with professionals in a field. “In this kind of a job market, it’s so important to have professional networks and someone that can mentor you, give you connections and vouch for you,” Tracy adds.

Rhodes has partnered with over 100 local, national and international employers to ensure students have the ability to explore their interests in a wide range of professional settings. These opportunities include:

  • American Contract Bridge League Archive: Preserve and catalog an archive and artifact collection that consists of books, photographs, documents and media files. Interns receive training to use the industry’s premiere museum software, Past Perfect; experience utilizing preventive preservation techniques; and learning the basics of digitizing historical photograph and document collections. (History)
  • Church Health Center Child Life Specialist: Supervise and assist children in individual exploration and group teaching activities in the child life room, infant/toddler room, and intergenerational art studio. Responsibilities include teaching curriculum, providing exercise and movement assessments to children, and creating new lesson plans based on the needs of specific clients and current trends. (Psychology)
  • David Lusk Gallery: Work with gallery supervisor in keeping press books current, researching material for newsletters, and writing copy for newsletters. Interns also work with the gallery Director and Assistant Director to facilitate gallery and in-home sales appointments and special marketing projects. (Art)
  • FedEx Financial Analysis Intern: Using financial modeling and cost accounting, interns work with the Senior Vice President to benchmark investment in E-Commerce Technology software, which automates shipping, tracking, and related activities, against software companies that sell their solutions. (Business Administration)
  • Latino Memphis: Map the Hispanic community in Memphis, develop and implement ESL lesson plans, research potential funding opportunities and explore innovative cross-cultural awareness programs. Interns will work to establish a mentor program through which Rhodes and the Metropolitan Inter-Faith Association work with Latino children in the public school system. (Religious Studies/Spanish)
  • LeBonheur Children′s Medical Center: Interns work with a team of medical students, residents and physicians as they participate in rounds and staff meetings, rotate through several outpatient clinics and observe surgical procedures. (Biology)
  • Memphis Magazine and Memphis Flyer: Working alongside magazine editors, interns research and write 400-800 word "City Beat" features; proofread and fact-check columns and feature stories; and write introductory essays for the "Inside Memphis" supplement to the publication. (English)
  • National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences, Inc.: Assist with a variety of professional and educational outreach programs including working with GRAMMY Foundation programs, researching and writing newsletters and event planning. Interns will receive in-depth exposure to the techniques and practices of a professional recording industry organization. (Music)
  • Padgett, Whitworth, Donohue, and Mickiewicz: Assist with legal case management, research for cases and write letters to clients and opposing attorneys. Interns also engage in brief preparation of files for clients, court dates and hearings. (History/Political Science)
  • Refugee Empowerment Program: Assist staff in developing effective ways to empower refugees in Memphis. Interns work in an after-school tutoring program, assist with an ESL program for refugee adults and research grant development and refugee rights. (International Studies)

For a full list of internships, please visit the Career Services web site.