Monday, May 23, 2016

Plan on learning: Interns learn through experience

by Zinta Aistars
Published in Southwest Michigan's Second Wave Media
March 3, 2016

Interns at work in downtown Kalamazoo

That moment always comes, when the event planner must pull his or her hair out. 

Deb Droppers, instructor in the WMU School of Public Affairs and Administration, guarantees it. In her role as head of Kalamazoo’s Experiential Learning Center, or KELC, it is one of the many lessons she lets her interns learn the hard way—on their own, fistfuls of hair in hand, just before they get to work fixing the problem. 

“Oh, I love to tear my hair out,” says Droppers, with a chuckle. She earned a master’s of public administration from Western Michigan University in 1981. “I’ve been doing it since 1995, when I started The Event Company, and it was based on providing interns opportunities to plan events. Back then, we called them party planners. Today, it’s much more about business management.”

When she began her company, she operated out of her living room, forever apologizing to the students milling about in her house, helping her organize hundreds of events. The students didn’t mind. Her husband finally did. He offered to buy his wife a building to house her business.

Now located in the heart of activity in downtown Kalamazoo, KELC offers internships to juniors or seniors majoring in event management, communications, marketing, public relations, graphic design, or similar field of student study.

“From start to finish, the center has been student-led, managed and implemented,” Droppers says.

The center was an important opportunity to practice what is preached in the classroom. They’ve got the book knowledge. Now they’re putting it to use.”

Becca Shemberger graduated from WMU in 2015 with a degree in public relations, and she is grateful to Droppers and KELC for giving her the edge that helped her land her job as an engineering recruiter.

“Deb gives you direction, but then lets you do the work,” Shemberger says. 

One of her projects as an intern was to ...


This story was originally published in the Western Michigan University Magazine.

No comments:

Post a Comment