Building the Next Generation: URI Students at Perspectives

By Sara Porcaro | February 19, 2019

The spring semester is in full swing, bringing a wave of students towards the end of another academic year. Some students are scratching the first year off their college journey, while others are thinking about caps and gowns, but everyone is nonetheless learning and preparing for their future career. In this effort, Perspectives is here to help--and last month, Perspectives was one of the agencies a class of University of Rhode Island students visited to learn more about how their skills and areas of study translates in the workforce!

Between the fall and spring semester (also known as the "Jterm," or winter session), these students took a community and career exploration course with Instructor Sarah Miller: Advocacy and Action in Rhode Island. During the course, students learned about various service-based industries and non-profit agencies that work towards advocating for and supporting local communities. They also learned how their personal strengths and values coincided with potential future careers, how to professionally introduce themselves to employers, and how to connect with professionals in their chosen fields through hands-on experience and agency visits, like the half-day event with Perspectives.

"It was a really nice opportunity for both students and Perspectives employees," says Senior Director and URI alum Andrew McQuaide. "Many alumni were excited to talk with current students and show support both for their alma mater and Perspectives."

Thank You Card from Jterm Class

To start the day, Training Directors Lynne Chaput and Patricia J. Harder introduced the agency's mission, core values, and standards, and the students had the opportunity to practice what they learned about making professional introductions. Joining them to talk about the transition from school to career was a panel of Senior Directors, as well as Executive Officer Judy Niedbala, almost all of which are URI alumni. After, another dozen URI alumni joined the group for lunch, where students were able to ask plenty of questions to Perspectives professionals.

The students ranged from business management and communication studies majors to English majors and nursing students. Among Perspectives URI alumni were also a variety of majors: from psychology, to communications, to soil sciences, to URI's last home economics graduate. Everything, including the most unexpected and unique areas of study, have a role to play, and employees were happy to show students how anyone can find their niche and thrive.

"We didn't have classes like the ones these students were taking when I was in college," says Senior Director and URI alum Brenda Verdi, "This class is a fantastic way to teach students about what's out there and give them hands on experience to solidify that in-class learning." Verdi herself majored in psychology, with a minor in sociology--and it was with Perspectives, working as a Direct Support Professional, where she made the decision to get her master's degree in social work and pursue her current career.

Instructor Miller notes about the event: "It was wonderful for the students to hear from so many proud Perspectives employees who truly love not only the work they do, but the environment they work within. I know the students left feeling incredibly impressed by the level of passion and dedication that was shown by the employees."

Programs and courses like PrepareRI internships, job fairs, and URI's Advocacy and Action course are paving the way to a smoother, clearer transition between school and working life--and Perspectives is happy to be a part of it! We have various internships available within the agency that provide hands-on experience and the opportunity to become regular positions. Many thanks to Instructor Miller for allowing our professionals to show URI students all that their strengths can bring to the human services industry!