Representatives from nearly 40 employers filled the I. King Jordan Student Academic Center on February 22 for Gallaudet University’s biannual Internship and Job Fair. “For a lot of them, it’s their first time here,” explained Julie Tibbitt, EdS ’18 & PhD ‘20, Director of the Office for Career Success, who is thrilled to introduce students and alumni to new opportunities. Attendees came from a wide range of fields, she added, with representatives from federal and state agencies, private corporations, and schools located across the country.

Clara Baldwin, ’12, Assistant Director of the Alaska State School for Deaf and Hard of Hearing, flew all the way from Anchorage to recruit. “We want to be able to meet people directly,” said Baldwin, who hopes to convince more Gallaudet graduates to come to her community. Many students asked how cold it gets there. “In the right socks, it’s fine,” she told them. “We really do believe Anchorage is small enough to be deaf friendly. We value everyone, and we take pride in that.”

A student engages with an employer.

Every table buzzed with career questions and answers. A group of students asked about paid and unpaid internships at the U.S. Department of State. Over at the National Institutes of Health, an employer encouraged anyone interested to follow her on LinkedIn to find out about the latest opportunities. And at the District of Columbia Department of Insurance, Securities, and Banking, senior Zahra Alhammad asked, “Do you accept international students?”

Alhammad is graduating in May and trying to understand her job options, ideally in positions related to communications and design. Other undergraduates were focused on summer jobs, like education major Douglas McComb-Barnett, who hopes to work with deaf children at a camp. He found several leads – and a dose of inspiration. “Our students are so amazing and motivated,” McComb-Barnett said.

Junior Klijah Mitchell felt energized just being there. “My long-term big dream is to become an interpreter,” explained Mitchell, who wants to serve his community in North Carolina. “There are interpreting agencies here and a lot of resources I can leverage in this room, and people I’m aspiring to become like.”

For Kirsten Hernblad Poston, ’92, Disability Program Manager at the Federal Highway Administration (FWA), it is important to be a role model to Gallaudet students. “I began as a writer’s assistant here, and the rest is history,” Poston said, noting that there are career tracks at the FWA for a variety of interests.

The same is true at Imagination Stage, said Shanna Sorrells, Senior Manager of Access and Inclusion at the Bethesda, Maryland theater company. She was primarily searching for deaf talent to teach classes, but there are other options available. “If you’re interested in social media or graphic design, we might have something for you,” she told Chris Weber, a first-year student, who handed her a business card embedded with a QR code. He had made them himself, Weber noted.

Interactions like this with Gallaudet students wowed Sorrells. “I’ve been impressed with their initiative,” she said. “People seem open-minded and willing to engage.”

Tibbett looks forward to continuing to grow the Internship and Job Fair next year.

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