Internships With Purpose

All employment that we engage in in our jobs and careers is uniquely grounded in liberal arts thinking and humanistic knowledge. Why is this?

First, all employment works with people and for people. No matter how scientific or technical a job might be, it requires a team effort of peoples responsible for it -- even if the person is self-employed. We need to know how to coordinate actions that lead to the reaching of our objectives. This applies whether the objectives are physical or psychological, or whether the product is consumed or not, or whether it is temporary or lasting.

Second, the liberal arts, or humanities, prepares us for the knowledge of people both individual and as social. In any workplace, some of one's work is done solo and some jointly with others. This is found in life at many levels: how we deal with civic duties, how we work with our families

Third, when we deal with people, we work with how they both think and feel. Thoughts are general ideas people have, but their emotions combine with them to produce action. To motivate people, the sign of a leader, requires knowledge of both and addresses the ways the people, in all situations and thus also in a work environment, think and feel. Both are necessary.

Fourth, to be successful every occupation requires both theoretical and speculative knowledge, even if many of the producers of the good do just the practical side of the production. The liberal arts are also focused, in all areas of study, on theory and is thus then linked directly to practice. Put simply, theory is what helps us to imagine whatever product we make, and practice then forms the means to reach it. Both of these require critical thought.

Internships are key in liberal arts, then, for many reasons:

  1. They help students to know every workplace is social and systematic, relying on many individuals to do highly coordinated work.
  2. They help students to discover originality in their productive lives by helping them to imagine new products and many new ways of producing them.
  3. They expose students to the ways that the ends and goals of whatever they do or produce can change over time.