Empowered by Career Path Internship at ISU
July 28, 2023
On his fifth attempt at finishing his undergraduate degree, Christopher Thomas, a 35 year-old non-traditional student, is going to succeed. Christopher will complete his degree at ISU in December 2023 with a major in English Professional Writing.
One of the factors that influenced Christopher’s decision to attend ISU was when college advisor Virginia Barnett told Christopher about the Career Path Internship program (CPI) program.
“I chose to finish my degree at ISU because it was affordable and it offered the Career Path Internship program, where I knew I could gain experience and be paid while attending school,” Christopher says.
Christopher says that increased CPI wages reflects the economic reality we live in. Initially he started his internship at $9.00 per hour. The College of Arts and Letters (CAL) initiated a pay increase to all CAL CPI’s during the Spring 2023 semester, which raised wages to $15.00 per hour. In April, the University announced a campus-wide increase in wages for CPI’s for the year 2024.
“I felt like finally somebody realizes that this is the paying wage now,” Christopher says. “Being fairly compensated while attending school built my confidence. It gave me a sense of worth.”
Christopher, like many ISU students, is a commuter. He says that the increased CPI wages helped him offset his costs, and gave him the ability to work in an internship that was relevant to his professional growth, rather than having to pursue work elsewhere in an unrelated field.
The internship he participated in was not an internship that existed. Through the help of the Department of English, the College of Arts and Letters, and the Career Center, Christopher was able to design an internship to meet his academic and professional development goals. The internship also served the needs of the organization who hired him, the Pocatello Unitarian Universalist Fellowship (PUUF).
Christopher points out that for writing, much of the work is freelance. The internship gave him insight into this type of writing experience, and helped him gain confidence that making a living this way was possible.
Christopher worked with PUUF to update their handbook, which hadn’t been updated for about ten years. Christopher says that in addition to writing skills, he gained experience with research, interviewing, conducting himself professionally, and communication. He was able to create a digital document that reflects PUUF’s values as an organization.
“In the technical writing field you take complex ideas or problems and find solutions and how to communicate them,” Christopher says. “It involves research, listening, and recommending an implementation. The CPI taught me how to ask better questions.”
“Considering where I’ve come from, and to finish my degree, ISU has been a fantastic campus,” Christopher says. “When I ask for help everyone finds a way to help. There are services available. You just need a way to put it together. It’s put me on a new path in life and I’ve learned a lot.”
For more information about the CPI program, please visit the Career Center website at