Kremen School equips student interns with skills to flourish and succeed

The Kremen School of Education and Human Development provides a broad variety of internships that help prepare Fresno State students for their future careers, teaching them valuable technical skills and instilling in them the confidence that allows for a smooth transition into their professional industries.

Marivel Bravo-Mendosa

Marivel Bravo-Mendosa began working on her master’s degree at Fresno State in the fall of 2017. Being enrolled in the Student Affairs and College Counseling program required her to complete 700 hours of supervised counseling experience. When exploring internship opportunities, Mendosa discovered that the Kremen School of Education and Human Development had an open internship position in its Counselor Education and Rehabilitation Department. After applying, Mendosa was quickly catapulted into the world of advising, learning how to assist students such as herself with their academic needs.

Interning with the Counselor Education and Rehabilitation Department helped Mendosa in many other ways as well.

She was quickly exposed to many of the things Kremen does for college students both while they are attending Fresno State and after graduation. Mendosa explains how everyone at Kremen was extremely nice and welcoming. She enjoyed getting to know the diverse group of students that apply to Fresno State and being able to assist them on their journey.

“I feel much more confident and prepared to embrace new environments, especially after working with so many different backgrounds. My internship helped me to become more culturally aware and also allowed me to apply the advising skills that I was learning in my classes.”

Marivel Bravo-Mendosa

Now a graduate with a M.S. degree in Counseling, Mendosa fondly looks back on her internship at Kremen.

“I treasure the connections that I made with the students, especially when they were stressed out or unsure of what the program was asking for. I would help them fill out applications and go into detail on what some of the questions meant. It was amazing to see the relief in their eyes once their emotions were validated. It was very empowering and humbling to see that I was making a difference, especially with my first-generation students. Even though it was in my own little corner of the world, at a tiny desk, it was still meaningful,” – Mendosa explains with pride.

Since graduating, Mendosa has continued pursuing her passion in counseling as an Academic Advisor for Enseñamos en el Valle Central. The valuable skills and connections she gained during her internship are now helping aid her as she continues her journey.

Mendosa elaborates on her successful transition to Enseñamos, “interning for Kremen helped me with networking. I got to know a lot of the staff and faculty which was great because now, with Enseñamos, we put on special events and projects which involve reaching out to the rest of the department. It gave me the confidence to work with them directly and to implement a different level of professionalism in our interactions.”

While the Counselor Education and Rehabilitation Department has provided countless hours of training and resources for students, they are only one of the many different internship programs that Kremen offers. The school’s communications team has also helped to prepare numerous interns for their upcoming careers by offering comprehensive training that will help carry them through the rest of their life.

Stacy Hurtado, a current student in the Mass Communication and Journalism bachelor’s program, applied for a communications and marketing internship with the Kremen School during her first summer at Fresno State. After gaining the position, Hurtado expected her assigned work tasks to be mundane in nature, such as organizing files, labelling documents and attending to reminders. The actuality of her internship proved to be much more thrilling and immersive, however, something she is grateful for in retrospect.

“One thing I really miss from my internship is planning my mini summer social media campaign. It threw me for a loop originally because I wasn’t expecting to do something like that. I thought it was just going to be like ‘oh help me out with a couple of instagram posts or tweets’. Working with the school, getting my ideas on paper, brainstorming and making it all come to life, that was really fun.”

Stacy Hurtado

Hurtado’s summer social media campaign was focused on increasing student excitement for returning to campus for the fall semester. She incorporated summer colors, motivational quotes, lighthearted memes and versioned the campaign for three different social channels. “I really cherished the creative freedom that was given to me.”

Hurtado describes some of the skills that she acquired through her internship and how they are now benefitting her current position as Social Media Director of the Fresno State Collegian Newspaper.

“It really helped me with content creation, especially with the planning aspect of it, knowing how to organize articles and campaigns. I had already done similar tasks before but not with that amount of content. It taught me how to do things very quickly, but with the same amount of quality that I was used to,” Hurtado cheerfully explains.

Working as a Communications and Marketing Intern helped to ease the transition for Hurtado after she was hired by The Collegian. All of the organizational skills, design techniques and writing styles she picked up during her internship were instantly transferred to her new and exciting position. She now helps direct all of the social media platforms for Fresno State’s main student news outlet with confidence and assurance.

Phylisha Chaidez, a recent Fresno State graduate, has now been appointed as a Community Health and Wellness Assistant for the Madera County Department of Public Health. She, too, worked closely with the school’s communications team. While pursuing her B.A. in Mass Communication and Journalism in the fall of 2019, she began her semester-long internship.

Chaidez warmly reflects on her time at Kremen and how it has shaped her as both an employee and as an individual.

“My internship pushed me to learn new things that I had never had any experience with before such as writing press releases and interviewing people. It made me a better writer,” said Chaidez. “I found the environment very exciting especially when news agencies such as ABC30 came to cover an event or a program we put together.”

Phylisha Chaidez

Chaidez explains how her passion has always been to work in the journalism industry. Attaining this internship was a dream come true. She recalls how she would shadow the school’s Communications Specialist, watching how they conducted their work, while taking notes on their techniques for future reference.

“It introduced me to the world of communication and journalism, making it an easy transition to my current job as a Community Health and Wellness Assistant. It is really neat seeing it all come full circle.”

Looking back on the fond memories she made during her internship, Chaidez describes some of the things she now misses, “I miss the unique method that Fresno State uses to write press releases. A lot of organizations are very straight to the point when it comes to writing publicity material but Fresno State really personalizes their stories, making them more compelling for the reader. One of my favorite stories was centered around a Fresno State graduate who authored a bilingual children’s book for her daughter. I remember that both the Collegian and ABC30 picked that story up. It was amazing to get that amount of publicity, especially for such a heartwarming and visionary story.”

Without the guidance and support that the Kremen School’s communications team offered, Chaidez states that she might not have felt as comfortable entering her current position. Having been given an arsenal of resources and training, she now confidently marches forward in her career.

Oneida Escobar

The Kremen School’s Center for Advising and Student Services has also helped a myriad of individuals find a niche within their particular industry. Oneida Escobar interned with them during a 2-year span while she was pursuing a master’s degree in Student Affairs and College Counseling. After graduating just this year, she is now a counselor at Fresno City College. She works for the Applied Technology Department, focusing on assisting students within the area of technology and trade school occupations. She works to ensure students receive the hands-on training that they need to transfer directly into the workforce.

Escobar explains how the rigorous nature of the training she encountered during her internship helped to prepare her for working in a technical, trade-based environment. She was taught how to construct and give presentations and how to participate in a broad range of areas that encouraged professional development. Attending to the front desk in the Kremen advising center also helped Escobar expand on her interpersonal communication skills and increased her situational preparedness.

“The training I received from the Advising Center was extremely hands-on and prepared me for working in different sectors that were previously outside my comfort zone. I was taught how to advise students one on one through zoom, provide credential information to interested applicants, and how to facilitate group advising. When I had the opportunity to enter into an employed position, I already had the transferable skills and experience I needed.”

Oneida Escobar

She describes how the Advising Center even helped to coach her on employee etiquette and assisted with the process of securing a job once her internship was over.

“When I was interviewing for jobs it was great having the support of the department behind me. It can be a very stressful experience as a new graduate, not knowing if you are going to get hired or not. The Advising Center would help quiz me on interview questions and sort of emulate what would be asked of me to help me prepare for the real thing. They really helped to build my confidence and encouraged me to be brave when it came to presenting my skills.”

The advising tactics that Escobar learned during her internship are the same ones that she is now applying as a full-fledged academic counselor. She explains how she has Jessica McVay, her previous supervisor and a member of the Kremen Liberal Studies Department, to thank for teaching her a wealth of valuable information.

 “During the internship portion of my training we had to be observed by our supervisor for a certain period of time as we conducted advising sessions. I received an immense amount of positive feedback and constructive criticism from our supervisor at the time, Jessica McVay. She helped reveal some points that I needed to work on, such as connecting more with the students in my office, making the experience personal for them,” Escobar elaborates.

“She showed me how to start a friendly rapport near the beginning of the meeting to set up a strong relationship foundation and then how to lead the appointment in a gentle manner, making sure to ease the concerns of the student by the end. It was over a year and a half ago that she gave me that particular piece of feedback and it is something I still employ currently with my students.”

Escobar has also been able to utilize the networking connections that she acquired through her internship to benefit some of her current philanthropic efforts. She works closely with an AVID coordinator from the Porterville High School, helping to raise funds to send students on college field trips. The AVID program focuses on students who are primarily First Generation and who come from low-income families. They provide these opportunities for the students so that they can obtain exposure to college and realize the amount of resources offered to them.

To help the program gain traction and to encourage publicity, Escobar was able to rely on the Advising Center for assistance.

“Recently, I reached out to some of the staff within the Kremen Department. I’m wanting to do a fundraising effort for our liberal studies teacher credential students and potential first year teachers. We want to provide them with the opportunity to apply for money, so that they will be able to create lesson plans during the credential program to help kickstart their classroom. By having those connections, I was able to reach out to them with my idea, gaining valuable support and insight. They were all very helpful and offered to assist with marketing and everything.”

Escobar is extremely grateful to have so much support from the Kremen Department, especially post-graduation. She acknowledges them for helping shape her as a leader and a mentor, and for inspiring her to reach for the stars.

“My internship provided me with countless opportunities of leadership, especially when it came to organizing fundraising efforts. These leadership skills helped me go beyond the realm of simple academic advising and started me on a path of mentorship which I am now continuing as a Fresno City College counselor.”

(Written by Audra Burwell, a creative writing student)

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