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Keuka College: Where Learning Is an Experience

Keuka College graduates don’t just walk off campus with a diploma — they leave with a résumé. Every single one of them.

That’s because a Keuka College education includes self-designed annual internships known as Field Period® experiences — one for every year of study.

The College established this program back in the 1940s, making it a leader in experiential learning for nearly 75 years. Today, Field Period opportunities range across disciplines and around the globe. They encompass not only internships, but cultural experiences, artistic endeavors, community service projects, and spiritual-based exploration.

By immersing themselves in real-world environments, students like occupational therapist Tori Putch ’14 M’15 can explore different fields and fine-tune their career goals.

“Field Period really helped me to get an idea of the areas of practice that I liked way earlier than I would have,” says Tori, who works with special-needs students in the New York City School District.

She conducted Field Period studies in schools, hospitals and — the one that cinched her career direction — a summer camp for kids with special needs.

“When it came time for Tori to look for a job, she already had experience in, like, eight different areas of occupational therapy,” says Tori’s mom, Deborah Putch.

That’s not uncommon. Keuka College offers a wide range of Field Period opportunities for all of its 37 majors, 29 minors, 8 pre-professional and 7 graduate programs.

Field Period experiences require 140 hours of hands-on participation. They are planned with College advisors, documented by employers, and examined by students themselves in post-Field Period® reflection papers.

How effective is this immersive internship program in shaping positive outcomes? The most recent survey of Keuka College graduates found that:

  • 96% were either working full time or are in graduate school within six months;

  • 94% said that Field Period was important in assisting their career development;

  • 90% said they were well prepared for the job search process.

  • The feedback from hosts was even more impressive:

  • 98% of employers with Field Period students said they would recommend Keuka College internship students to other employers.

That’s good news for employers hosting Field Period students but better news for the students themselves. They’re incorporating on-the-job learning with their formal education to become valuable assets even before they walk the stage.

​​And as for internship options, the list is limited only by students’ imaginations. Field Period students can be found in the offices of political leaders like Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer of New York; in the board rooms of companies like Corning and Paychex; on the fields of professional sports teams; and in hospitals, colleges, clinics, schools and organizations across the nation and around the world.

And we mean around the world.

  • American Sign Language major Chelsea Cooper traveled to the birthplace of signing — Paris — to study the origins of the language.

  • Occupational Therapy major Abby Hess spent three weeks in Nicaragua in preparation for taking part in the OT Without Borders program after she graduates.

  • Child and Family Studies major Maria Wayne gained invaluable perspective by attending the Catholic World Fellowship in Rome and Schloss Wissen, Germany.

Keuka College has launched hundreds of students on global journeys that are not just academic internships but educational adventures.

The network is so vast and enduring that Keuka College students are sometimes even hosted by College alumni. Molecular biologist Dr. Carolyn “Carrie” Klinge ’79, for example, has mentored more than a dozen Field Period students at the University of Louisville School of Medicine.

And anesthesiologist BettyLou Kofffel ’74 once went above and beyond: Opening her home to a Field Period student interning at the Maryland hospital at which she then worked.

“It was unbelievably gracious, especially for someone she had never met,” recalls Dr. Jason Lake of his 1995 Field Period experience with BettyLou. “And since we were staying together, we had the chance to talk about medicine — the things you see in the hospital, the implications of going into medicine. It was a really enriching experience.”

Field Period experiences have enriched thousands of Keuka College alumni. By the time they graduate, Keuka College students have amassed 12 to 14 weeks — practically a full semester — of immersive experiential learning in real-world environments.

They haven’t just worked toward, or dreamed of, their professions, they’ve lived them.

There’s no replacement for experience, and there’s no experience like a Keuka College Field Period.

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