At Northwestern, one of the things that I like about our curriculum is that we really prioritize real-world experience. What do I mean by this phrase “real-world experience?” I mean that as a part of the curriculum, I, along with my peers, have had an opportunity to gain exposure to working with others off campus in preparation for life after graduation.
As I’ve said in other blog posts, I’m taking part in the Theatre for Young Audiences Module. This is a relatively small program within the School of Communication that offers an opportunity to really get specific in my theatrical interests. For me, I’m very interested in the ways drama can be used to help children. As part of the program, one has to fulfill an extracurricular internship requirement.
To fulfill this requirement, this fall, I am shadowing Betsy Quinn at Haven Middle School. Betsy is a former president of the American Alliance for Theatre and Education and teaches Advanced Creative Drama here on campus. Knowing this, I knew I was bound to have a great time. Working with 8th graders, I’ve been able to witness really eloquent conversations and how drama can allow students to express themselves. In the class, they are devising a play based on big issues. It’s absolutely inspiring! I’m able to give some direction and I’ve been told that I might even lead some lessons! Through this experience, I now know that teaching is something I have to have in my life in some way.
There are many programs across Northwestern that provide students similar opportunities to gain real-world experiences. The first that comes to mind is the practicum quarter in the School of Education and Social Policy. This is a quarter you spend off-campus working somewhere that relates to what you’re studying. My friend Avi was a social policy major. For his practicum, he worked at the Chicago mayor’s office for class credit. After graduation, he was actually offered a full-time position there.
Other examples of real-world experience exist in specific classes. One class that exemplifies this is “Design, Thinking and Communication” within the McCormick School of Engineering. This class pairs first-year engineers with a client off-campus to help solve a problem. My friend Amelia’s group was assigned to work with a man in Evanston who had suffered a stroke. They created a device that connected to his arm. It made him more mobile in his day-to-day life and allowed him to play piano again, one of his greatest passions.
Real-world experience is something that I think every student has to have as an undergraduate. Therefore, I’m super happy about the opportunities that I have received here at NU and I take pride in hearing the stories of my friends that had similar experiences.