by Nicole Coutlangus, SMWC journalism intern
Ashley Tharpe, a Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College campus senior double majoring in advertising and graphic design, is an excellent model for preparing for life after graduation. In addition to her hefty academic pursuits, Tharpe completed two internships this Spring 2012, and is currently completing a third with the Indiana State Museum. An Indianapolis, Ind. native, she said that, because of the heavy workload, she “was able to see firsthand what I can accomplish. I now feel confident that I can take on the real world.”
Tharpe completed internships with Halcyon Art Gallery and Crossroads Communications, a company of family radio stations, both in Terre Haute, Ind. In December 2011, she decided she needed professional experience, and when SMWC’s Career Development Center approached her about Crossroads, she eagerly applied. Additionally, Tharpe knew that she wanted to be a part of Phi Beta Lambda; to join, she had to participate in the business department’s virtual social media internship, and so found herself in the midst of two exciting opportunities. As she explained, “it was overwhelming at times, but I was always able to keep myself on track.”
Tharpe’s internship at Crossroads was unforgettable. A self-proclaimed perfect fit for advertising and graphic design, she handled work in the company that meshed perfectly with her goals. She recorded radio advertisements, and designed website ads and logos. Further, Tharpe said her duties gave her a feeling of real-world accomplishment and responsibility. Her supervisor, Kensey Kunkel, had an equally positive experience: “She shows originality and creativity when thinking through situations. She also had excellent suggestions and ideas.”
Working for Halcyon Art Gallery through the virtual internship was another great experience for Tharpe. In a team setting, she and other distance and campus students picked from a list of not-for-profits that requested help with their websites or social media projects. This internship was definitely an instance of test and triumph, for “it is challenging working with others, virtually. I was surprised by the amount of time and effort involved.” Still, Tharpe believes it was a rewarding, innovative experience.
Currently Tharpe works for the Indiana State Museum. With duties including graphic design work, photography, and advertising for the museum store, marketing, volunteer and intern departments of the museum, her confidence and field experience have reached new levels. Though one might say in jest that Tharpe is an internship addict, the truth is rather inspiring and simple: she loves what she is working towards. “I enjoy everything I am doing. I know that the great reward for all of this extra work will be great happiness in my career.”
Tharpe is obviously pro-internship. When asked what she would say to potential interns, she exclaimed, “I recommend everyone do an internship in college. The more the merrier. I plan to take more my senior year, so I will have four or five under my belt.” Further, she realized that internships often make or break your future. “Many places will not hire you without experience. Even if it is not your dream, any internship can help prepare you for the professional world.” From an outsider’s perspective, it seems that Tharpe is ahead of the pack.