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To You

Richard Byrne

It’s no secret that these are tough economic times. So what advantages do UMBC students have in the struggle to find and secure a career? The great education that they receive at UMBC is one asset. But the strength of the university’s commitment to securing internship opportunities is another head start that UMBC students have in the job hunt.

As UMBC President Freeman A. Hrabowski, III, points out in our “Up on the Roof” feature, the university works hard to nurture relationships with potential employers in the Baltimore-Washington corridor. He also emphasizes the number of opportunities that UMBC has created on campus, observing that over 2,000 students gain work experience on the campus itself each year.

In this issue, we’re spotlighting the power of internships to shape and even transform one’s career aspirations and trajectory. In “Turn to Earn," we feature the stories of four UMBC alumni whose internships took them in a much different direction than they may have planned for themselves at the outset of their time at UMBC.

It’s no accident that three of the four alumni we profile obtained their internships from UMBC’s Shriver Center. The center is a powerhouse for applied learning on campus, placing 1,300 students into internships each year and winning high marks from students and employers for its efforts. (Can you help The Shriver Center place a student? You can contact the center at shrivercenter@umbc.edu or 410-455-2493.)

The mentoring efforts of UMBC faculty also play a huge role in giving students a leg up on internships and other networking opportunities.

Christopher Corbett, author and professor of the practice in the English department, is just such a mentor for his students and the college journalists at UMBC. Noted author and screenwriter Rafael Alvarez (The Wire, Homicide: Life on the Street) profiles Corbett in this issue of UMBC Magazine, and his piece traces Corbett’s path to success working at local newspapers in Maine and at the Associated Press in Baltimore.

These days, Corbett is imparting the lessons of those years in the journalism trenches to a new generation of students - through his classes and his job as faculty advisor to The Retriever Weekly. And it is Corbett who has helped many of his charges - including Jamie Smith-Hopkins ’98 of The Baltimore Sun, who is also profiled in our piece on life-changing internships – get their foot in the door at media outlets with a timely call to an editor.

“My experience has been that work begets work,” Corbett tells me. “Which I think is a truism of the trade. I’m sure you’ve known people who’ve had an internship and then somebody got drunk or ran off with the donut shop waitress, and then somebody got a job because they were there and these things happen.”

Corbett adds that “my philosophy about internships is that I only send out someone when they’re road-tested…. This isn’t complicated. And, historically, it’s led to people finding jobs.”

The UMBC community is also mourning the passing of the university’s founding chancellor, Albin Owings Kuhn, on March 24. Our feature on Chancellor Kuhn’s legacy can be found in “The News” section. A memorial service for Chancellor Kuhn will be held on Sunday, May 23 at 2 p.m. in the Albin O. Kuhn Library Gallery. A reception will follow.

— Richard Byrne '86
byrne@umbc.edu

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