Setting up students for success

Dr. Wendy DeYoung talks to students while they wait for their turn to speak to panelists
Wendy DeYoung talks to students while they wait for their turn to speak to panelists.

One of the biggest hurdles that any soon-to-be graduate faces is learning how to market their newfound expertise into a career. Translating a particular class or an entire degree into marketable skills and how that knowledge makes them employable is often difficult, and can cause a lot of stress to graduating seniors. The Department Health and Exercise Science is working hard to change that.

HES 486, or the Wellness Program Management class, is designed to assist students in turning their new skills into a career. The course focuses on helping students prep for interviews, market themselves and interview for and secure internships.

“The purpose of this senior practicum is two-fold. First, it provides the students with a specific community-based practicum opportunity that aligns with their career goals,” said Wendy DeYoung, assistant professor, assistant department head and director of the Health Promotion concentration in the Department of Health and Exercise Science.  “Second, the class is designed to help students develop professional resumes, references, cover letters, professional dress etiquette, and interviewing skills to support them as they search for their full-time health promotion internship the following semester. These professional documents provide templates for students to use in their professional career path and/or as they apply to graduate school.”

A student talks to the Poudre Fire Authority Health and Safety Battalion Chief Gary Nuckols about their upcoming internship opportunities promoting fitness among their team
Student Bailey Zagar talks to the Poudre Fire Authority Health and Safety Battalion Chief Gary Nuckols about their upcoming internship opportunities promoting fitness among their firefighters

Professional panel

Every semester, DeYoung invites a panel of industry leaders to come to campus and speak to students about their programs and why their internship would be a good fit for HES students. Many of these professionals are former graduates of the Health and Exercise Science program, having completed their own internships and continued on at the company, only to eventually come back to recruit their fellow Rams to start their own professional journey within their companies.

“The Professional Panel is a showcase where successful industry leaders throughout the state are invited to campus to present internship opportunities to our students,” said DeYoung. “The Department of Health and Exercise Science has worked with many of these professionals over the years and has built mutually beneficial partnerships with them. Our students are searching for ideal internships that will provide career training and the sites are looking for well-qualified, well educated, and well-prepared students.  It is a win-win for the companies and for the seniors in HES. As a faculty member, I am extremely grateful for these productive relationships and the rich training and mentoring that occurs during these internships.”

A student talks with the representative from Thompson School District, Kathy Schlepp
Student Mikayla Valentine talks with Kathy Schlepp, Thompson School District’s wellness specialist. Valentine was able to secure an internship with Schlepp in the coming weeks.

This fall, 19 different companies participated over two days of panels, with 11 of them bringing back HES alumni who were previously hired at these companies to speak to their fellow CSU Rams. Of those 19 companies, 11 of them have recently hired CSU students or recent alums.

Networking during class

By giving students access to this resource during class time, it allows them a networking opportunity that they may not have had otherwise, due to conflicts in class or work schedules. It also allows them to make connections with industry leaders and HES alumni in a private setting that allows students to feel supported throughout the process.

“It also provided more support than other career fairs because it was during our usual class time when we would all be available,” said Ashley Horner. “We had the support of faculty to help us ask questions before we talked to the site leaders. Other career fairs did not have each site do a presentation so it was a great opportunity to hear what each site is and what the interns do there.”

The panel also offers the opportunity for each professional representative to promote themselves to the interviewees, rather than the other way around, which is a format students seem to prefer.

“The Internship panel was different in the fact that each company was given time to talk in front of the audience. Most other panels just have the structure of everyone walking around and having 1-on-1 conversations or small groups,” said Greg Barbosa. “The internship panel helped me prepare and achieve my internship by helping me see each internship’s unique vision. This helped me align my own vision with theirs.”

All students in HES 486 achieve placement into relevant internships within their chosen fields, allowing them to explore and create valuable skills before they enter the job market. They create resumes, interview with the panel or with companies outside the panel, and 100% of students find internships to complete for the following semester.

A student talks to the Poudre Fire Authority about their upcoming internship opportunities promoting fitness among their team
Courtney Therrien talks to the Poudre Fire Authority’s Greg Hubbard about their upcoming internship opportunities promoting fitness among their firefighters. Therrien was able to secure an internship with Poudre Fire Authority in the coming weeks.

Advice for students

For students still looking for internships, these newly hired students have a bit of advice.

“Really be your true self – let the interviewers see your passion and enthusiasm for this position and the field in general,” said Caroline Amman. “The panel gave me some insight as to what skills and strengths they were looking for and would be applicable to the job. It helped me form some of the answers I gave in interviews with them. It also told me a lot about their specific program that I may not have known otherwise, which made me seem that much more enthusiastic and passionate when I was able to bring up those specific talking points during the interview. Don’t just tell them what they want to hear, but give them genuine, unique answers that are true for you. Also, keep your options open and don’t be afraid to explore other options outside of what you think you might want.”

The Department of Health and Exercise Science would like to congratulate all our new interns and wish them the best of luck for their Spring internships.

The Department of Health and Exercise Science is part of CSU’s College of Health and Human Sciences.