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English majors now have the opportunity to apply for a recently created Co-Op with Sports Illustrated.

Each semester one or two juniors will be selected to work in New York City where they will research, write and, most importantly, network.

“Many wonderful opportunities can result from networking,” explained Karen Graziano, director of Leadership & Professional Development in the Office for Undergraduate Students in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences. “The new Sports Illustrated Co-Op for English majors is one of those wonderful opportunities.”

For one semester—fall or spring—SI interns will focus on reporting and fact-checking stories, pre-research, web work and some writing.

This Co-Op is a paid position, but students can also receive credit for the English electives requirements of the major.

 There is no established housing, so the student is responsible for his or her own residential accommodations.

Nonetheless, English and journalism instructor Jody Ross feels this experience will show students what they can except in employment after college.

“The first job for a person interested in working at a magazine is always editorial assistant, which involves fact-checking and a bit of writing, usually for the online edition,” Ross said. “That’s exactly what the Co-Op students at SI do.”

A Co-Op is similar to an internship, but differs in that it is a joint consistent program between the University and a selected business.

Co-Ops are usually full time, paid positions where students are given more responsibility than at an internship.

Students who participate in Co-Ops are given real life experience and are more marketable to employers.

It builds their resumes and shows a level of maturity to job recruiters.  When a student proves himself or herself full-time for a semester, he or she becomes a known quantity to employers, often leading to a job offer after graduation.

The application process for this Co-Op includes a letter of application, highlighting writing skills and research experience, a resume, two letters of recommendation from faculty and two to three writing samples, such as academic papers or published pieces.  Students versed in sports writing, magazine writing, journalism and technical editing are looked at favorably.

English and communication major Ava Gyurina is the first student to participate in this Co-Op and has been working at SI for the 2013 spring semester.

This opportunity could not be possible without the connections of dedicated alumni and SI senior editor, Jim Gorant, who established of this program.

“I’d had a chance conversation with a colleague who mentioned SI was planning to use more interns,” Gorant said.

“Around the same time, I met Karen Graziano, who does career development for A&S, and was looking to create opportunities for students.”

Because a similar program was already established with the University of Texas, the process was easily developed.

Villanova and the University of Texas now stand as the only schools with established SI internships.

Gorant notes not only the importance of networking, but also the prestige of the Co-Op with a corporation as prominent as SI.

“Any time you can add professional experience to classroom learning it gives you an advantage,” Gorant said.

“When you’ve done it at SI, people in the industry know you have a certain level of competence and that follows you everywhere you go.”

 Understanding the difficulty of breaking into the field, Gorant wanted to give Villanova English majors an opportunity to get their foot in the door and gain experience.

“I know how hard it is to get started in this business and thought I could help,” Gorant said.

After graduating, Gorant made a name for himself through 20 years in the magazine industry.

His freelance writing has been printed in over three dozen publications and he presided on the editorial staff for GQ, Men’s Journal, Maximum Golf and Popular Mechanics.

Gorant is the author of four books, including the New York Times bestseller “The Lost Dogs: Michael Vick’s Dogs” and “Their Tale of Rescue and Redemption.”

As a senior editor at SI, Jim works specifically on golf and college football.

He plans the coverage for those sports, brainstorms story ideas with the journalists, edits articles, collaborates with the art and photo departments to create a layout, writes headlines and captions and coordinates extensions of the content for the iPad edition and for the website, SI.com.

With the help of Graziano and the BRIDGE Society, Gorant was able to tie his connections with the University and SI to make this opportunity possible.

“Networking is about more than seeking a job,” Graziano said. “It’s about creating and maintaining meaningful, authentic relationships. I simply offered ideas to Gorant, and he made the relationship with the English department possible.”

Because many alumni and parents are interested in supporting the professional development of Arts and Sciences students, Graziano has spearheaded the development of mentoring and networking programming in BRIDGE.

  The BRIDGE Society aims to create relationships among students and alumni in the College of Arts and Sciences and stands for “Build Relationships, Inspire Development, and Gain Expertise.”  It functions on the ideals of “Villanovans Helping Villanovans.”

“Through the BRIDGE Industry events, we bring alumni, like Gorant, onto campus to share advice and experiences,” Graziano said. “I have witnessed how motivating these conversations are for both students and alumni. That’s the true power of networking: to not only connect, but to empower.”

Alumni often schedule workshops or networking events on campus and sometimes students are brought to the alumni on site visits.

“Not only is it important for students to research potential fields by talking to professionals, but it’s also important for them to learn how to present themselves in a professional setting,” Graziano said.  “Participating in BRIDGE events and becoming a member of BRIDGE can help students accomplish both.”

The next BRIDGE event is on Thursday,  Feb. 7th at 6 p.m. in Dougherty West Lounge with alumni who work in the psychology, sociology, counseling, human resources and education industries.

More events can be found on the BRIDGE Society website or in SAC 107.

The Los Angeles Internship, an opportunity for students interested in the entertainment industry to partner with Temple’s Film and Media Arts department over the summer, is another experience that falls under Arts and Sciences internship programs.

Additionally, the Vatican Internship allows students studying communication and computing sciences to spend a semester studying and working in Italy.

In the Villanova School of Business, internships are available with companies such as Johnson and Johnson, Hershey and Morgan Stanley Financial Services.

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