A friend to undergrads, she helps give students an advantage in career readiness
Debbie Cutler
College of Arts & Science
Kirsten Pape

Kirsten Pape, a Mizzou graduate and lifelong Columbia resident, is a new face at the College of Arts and Science Internship Office, working primarily with undergraduate students to help them reach their career goals.

Pape has worked at Mizzou in various positions since graduating from her master’s program in 2005, but her most recent position as A&S internship coordinator was developed to help students with their needs in finding internships, updating resumes, participating in job fairs, and otherwise helping students build skills to be competitive applicants in the workforce.

“Our office is really focused on what the students need for advancement,” Pape says. “A lot of them come in seeking internships. They are searching for an opportunity, and I just guide them in their efforts. Oftentimes they have anxiety, wondering how they will manage their search. I think a lot of time students are overwhelmed when they are looking for an internship. Most students think they can only search in the summer because that’s when they have time to do it.”


Scholarships and More

But Pape, who went to undergraduate and graduate school at Mizzou — and has a BA in history, English, and philosophy; and a master’s in public affairs — says she can assist year-round in finding paid and unpaid internships.

She also helps students who might already have an internship, particularly if they are seeking academic credit. In addition, she works with departments to build out websites with career enhancement tools, including sociology’s  hands-on learning opportunities page. Her goal is to do more of this type of work with other departments.

Pape says opportunities for undergraduate students have shifted as there’s a different expectation now among employers. They want students to have experiences beyond the classroom, so they can measure a student’s candidacy by more than just their GPA and degree program. “I really do feel like students believe there is a little more pressure today,” Pape says.


Tools of the Trade

The university uses several databases to assist, including Handshake, which is an interactive portal that connects students with jobs, internships, and career events. “It’s designed specifically for college students. The interactive portal notifies students of opportunities they might be interested in once they build out their student profile,” Pape says.

We help these individuals collectively because it does take a village. - Kirsten Pape 

When students upload their resume to Handshake, they also get feedback on their resume from a career specialist, she adds. “The interactive portal is not only helpful to students, but also allows the college to track certain datapoints or outcomes that are relevant to the university.”

Pape also recommends that students build out their Linkedin profiles, which not only connects them to open opportunities, but also is a good way to meet Mizzou alumni in the industry.

Another research source is idealist.org. “It’s a great search engine,” says Pape. “And they have internships, job opportunities, and volunteer experiences.”

While Linkedin and Handshake are great tools for looking at careers and other opportunities in the for-profit or corporate industry — idealist.org or missouri.givepulse.com are great tools for looking at nonprofit and advocacy agencies. Missouri.givepulse.com’s website offers service-learning courses to Mizzou students that combine coursework with impactful service to the community. It is a database run by MU’s Office of Service-Learning, used to track the office’s service-learning students, but it is available to all Mizzou students. MU students can use the platform to identify and connect with a community partner for volunteer and internship opportunities.

“I utilize these career tools quite a bit,” says Pape. “I’m here for the students.” In December, nearly 140 individual students came to her office for career advice, though that varies from month-to-month. “It ebbs and flows. February is internship season; March is when students start gearing up for summer.”


A Good Note

Pape says her biggest tip for student success is to start early on their career-readiness path. She adds students should start thinking about involvement, volunteering, and future internships as early as their freshman year.  

“It takes working with faculty, departments, students, and other organizations on campus — such as the Office of Undergraduate Research and the MU Career Center. We help these individuals collectively because it does take a village,” Pape says.