Acquiring a job or internship can be a difficult task for a college graduate, and even more so for an undergrad, but here at Brooklyn College, there is a program that can help.
Nicole Casamento, a graduate student at Brooklyn College, is in her third semester of a masters program for a degree in English Literature. Since February, Casamento has completed two internships, received a stipend while completing one of those internships, and has been invited to CUNY leadership events. And it all began after she attended two events at the Magner Center.
“I didn’t think it would take me as far as it has,” she said. “For all I knew, I could’ve gone and walked out and not learned anything. But it has definitely gotten me a lot more than I expected, especially in the time period that it has.”
The Magner Center for Career Development and Internships provides workshops and holds events for students and alumni to help them “develop skills necessary to attain their lifelong career goals.” For Casamento, her year began with a visit to a mentoring event at the Magner Center, where she wound up talking to Shelly Worrel, a former BC grad and founder of caribBEING, a non-profit organization that serves as a platform for Caribbean culture, film, and art.
“She just came and spoke on that day by coincidence,” said Casamento. “But it sounded interesting to me, so I wound up asking her about interning with her and I started interning.”
That internship started in the spring and lasted through the summer. She later found out that the Magner Center provided stipends for students doing internships and she was able to get paid for doing the work she enjoyed.
“They paid me essentially to intern,” said Casamento.
Towards the end of her internship, Casamento began talking with another intern at caribBEING who was there for the fall. That intern informed Casamento that Artnews magazine, the place she had been interning at, was hiring. She was able to get the internship with the magazine for this fall, while she continues to write a few articles for caribBEING.
“I just thought I was going to go and get an idea of what internships were like and I wound up not only getting a great internship, but that lead to another internship and being invited to leadership events,” she said.
After having earned a degree in psychology at Rutgers University, Casamento came to Brooklyn College to work on a master’s degree. After attending a mentoring event at the Magner Center, she received emails about potential mentors in writing-related careers. Soon after, she was introduced to a BC grad who was a journalist and currently works in public relations. She was able to meet with her mentor and was given information about going into the field of journalism and public relations, as well as tips on how to report on press releases and get press contacts.
“She was more than I expected,” said Casamento. “She was very generous with her time and with what she learned.
Casamento recalled already knowing some of the tips being offered at one of the Magner Center events, but says that there’s something to learn for everyone.
“They catch people up to speed who might not have known about those things,” she said, “and they give you new information, even if you knew some of it. Afterwards, they’re really active about trying to pair you up with people for mentors and internships.”
Although many students work, go to school, and participate in other activities, Casamento, who took four classes in the spring, worked part-time, and did freelance writing, says the Magner Center provides many times for workshops and that it’s worth trying to fit that hour into your schedule because it can help your career.
“It’s not something you have to commit a whole day to, much less commit regularly in any form,” she said. “The workshops they hold—it’s not like if you go to one, you have to go to another.”
Casamento, who was nominated to attend a women’s leadership event for CUNY students, said that students should go to the Magner Center as soon as possible, but also pointed out that her experience is an example of what students can do in just a few months.
“There’s a slim chance that maybe you’ll go and might walk out and not do anything,” she said, “but if you’re serious about wanting to use [the Magner Center] or have something in mind, then you can get a lot out of it.”
The Magner Center also helps students after they graduate. BC alumni have access to career counseling, events, and have open invitations to events and job fairs. Alumni can also become mentors or can serve as speakers at events. Casamento says that these services are not offered by all colleges and that students who dorm at other universities and colleges have an advantage because they can use those services whenever they want. However, she said that the convenience of the Magner Center is great because BC has many students who work or commute to school.
“You can go to other places to get these same services and wind up having to pay a lot of money,” said Casamento, “or you’ll just go to a one-day event and you’ll never see those people again.”
“This is a way you’ll be networked into the system and they’ll actually try to keep in touch with you so you’ll get more out of it than most places—and at no cost.”