College beyond the classroom 

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Staff Writer

Dr. Gail McGuire, Professor of Sociology and Anthropology at IU South Bend gave an honors talk January 27 in the River Crossing Student Housing. During her discussion, she covered the benefits of Community Engagement and how students can get the most from their experience.

Professor McGuire runs the program, Engage IU South Bend Internship Stipends.

This program helps students take part in internships and helps break the barrier for students who work and have a hard time putting in the needed hours for an internship.

The internship provides a $1600 Stipend for qualified students to work for a non-profit organization. Any student is welcome to apply, you can find the application on the Career Services website.

Many students can find it hard to juggle classes, work and possibly volunteer. Professor McGuire offers some ways students can step into volunteering such as through classes, a place of worship, with a friend or through student clubs.

“If you’re the kind of person that likes to learn hands on…there are 40 courses on this campus in a wide variety of areas where you can take and get this kind of experience where you do the learning outside the classroom” says McGuire.

The courses are offered in all different fields and provide each student with the right experience for their future. Being engaged in the community means a lot of things, volunteering, activism and even civic engagement.

There are things students can do to be more engaged in the community, participating in marches to help bring awareness to issues that are not as well known, starting a fundraiser or helping at a local food bank.

“Simply voting, going to a political debate, writing a letter to the editor, volunteering for a candidate are just some of the different community engagement ways that you might get connected with your community.”

Gaining experience in the field comes with a lot of skills and responsibility and as students engage more within the community those skills are strengthened.

“Going out into the community and doing this work is unpredictable…it can be messy and not always clear. There is no syllabus, no assignment you are put in a situation where you have to figure out what you need to do on the fly.

It really pushes students out of their comfort zone, they learn how to handle the messiness and unpredictability of organizational life,” says McGuire.

McGuire explains that employers are looking for people who are flexible, resilient and who are dependable. Putting yourself into a situation where it pushes you to grow as a person and student will help you in the workforce.

She encourages students to put themselves in harder situations to develop those skills. It doesn’t always feel good but there are really good outcomes.

Engaging in the community is a great way to start networking. Students can put themselves out there and show that they have the skills to be flexible and can handle different environments.

As a Professor, McGuire says she sees students become more confident in themselves. Students realize they can go out into the community and do the hard work and finish with a great outcome even if it is really stressful.

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