Students gain real-world experience

May 13, 2019

Public Relations

Obtaining a college degree is a major step towards reaching professional goals and landing a full-time job. Gaining relevant work experience while in college can often be an important resume-enhancer that can distinguish one graduate from another in an application pool. Many Palo Alto College students are given the opportunity to do just that, setting them up for success in the workforce upon graduation.

Students gain this work experience at Palo Alto College and the entire Alamo Colleges District through Experiential Learning, where they gain career-relevant skills, knowledge, and experience outside of the classroom through experiences such as research, externships, internships, or community service.

"Today, employers prefer to hire a candidate with experience in their field," said Katherine Driscoll, academic programs specialist for the Alamo Colleges District. "Joining one of the programs in Experiential Learning can benefit a student by providing them with that experience and thus shrink the gap between graduation and beginning a career."

The Experiential Learning program presented a great opportunity for one music student at Palo Alto College, who we will refer to as "Ashley." She was selected to participate in the Exito: CIA Career Exploration Boot-Camp. This two-day program in Washington, D.C. is designed to help students learn about pursuing a career in the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). At the end of the program, participants are given the opportunity to apply for an internship that would take place during the summer months of 2020 and 2021.

"When I got the email, I was really flabbergasted," said Ashely. "I'm really looking forward to being able to meet new people, network, and just kind of get my name out there."

As a work-study with Tutoring Services at the College, Ashley has been able to hone in on skills that are important to her professional development.

"Since I was given this job, it's just opened up my social skills," said Ashley. "At first it was always really hard for me to talk to people, but now that it's in direct line with my job. It's really made it easier for me to talk and to get myself out there."

Work-study positions play a valuable role in making various Palo Alto College departments run smoothly. Student Ruby Filoteo used to be a work-study with Office of Student Life, where she gained valuable work experience as a student.

"It helped me with my confidence since I had to handle a lot of events," said Filoteo. "I had to talk to students and people. It really made my communication better."

Filoteo is graduating this semester, and she was able to build off of the experience she gained as a work study. She is now a marketing assistant with I Care San Antonio, a local nonprofit focused on providing complete eye care to low-income and homeless children, adults and seniors, in San Antonio, and the surrounding contiguous ten counties. As she moves on in her educational journey, Filoteo credits Palo Alto College for putting her in a position to succeed.

"If I could get my [bachelor's] degree here, then I would," said Filoteo. "I've never been to a campus where I feel like they really help you. I feel like, here, they go above and beyond, and it's incredible."