Intensive (and Intentional) Learning

From Celine Chen

Getting the most from my Bryn Mawr education, inside the classroom and out.

Bryn Mawr offers intensives and workshops throughout the academic year to supplement their liberal arts curriculum. These programs offer experiential learning, in which students can explore career and professional development tracks and topics that are not traditionally offered within a liberal arts curriculum. These intensives are really helpful in getting a chance to explore a professional area you may be interested in. You get a sense of what that field is all about, and the types of skills that would be helpful to make yourself a competitive candidate.

What’s an Intensive?

Intensives take place over breaks (fall, winter, spring, and sometimes the end of summer break) and last anywhere from 2-5 days. They are essentially 9am-5pm days (they don’t call them intensives for nothing!) in which you participate in a variety of workshops, learn different skills, and connect with alumnae or professionals in the field. I’ve had the chance to participate in 3 intensives during my time at Bryn Mawr and although they are truly intense, I’ve never regretted participating in one.

Digital Narratives panel: (from left to right) Ann Rafalko-Sublett ’97, Jesse Gale (BMC Chief Communications Officer) Smith ’91, Kaaren Sorenson ’85.

Entrepreneurship Intensive – Fall 2016

I took this intensive as a sophomore during Fall break. I decided to stay at Bryn Mawr for Fall break because home is a bit far for me to travel for a week-long break, but also, at the time, I was extremely interested in entrepreneurship. Since Bryn Mawr offers a liberal arts curriculum, I thought the intensive was a perfect opportunity to get a taste of entrepreneurship to see if I was interested in an MBA after graduating (or exploring the possibility of taking a course at UPenn). The instructor, Leslie Mitts, is a serial entrepreneur and Bryn Mawr and Wharton alum. Not only was she a knowledgeable instructor, she was also such a boss lady (for lack of a better term) who had so much advice on career and professional development. She had a whole range of colleagues come in to talk about for-profit and non-profit ventures that ranged everything from education to feminine products. The intensive was such a great opportunity to learn more about analyzing the product, market, and economic models of different businesses. As a sophomore, the intensive was also a great way for me to start building my professional development materials, and it was in that intensive that I learned more about creating a marketable resume.

Job and Grad School Bootcamp – Summer 2018

This intensive took place a couple days before the start of the Fall 2018 semester. I had heard really great things about the intensive, and, as a senior, I thought it was a great way to put myself in the right headspace to start my last year off right. This intensive was jam-packed with all types of content for career and professional development. We identified our talents and assets through Clifton StrengthsFinder and then developed concrete strategies to market ourselves to jobs and grad schools. We also attended site visits for a variety of different career paths (I went to an architecture firm in Philly!). Throughout the three days we learned about networking, cover letters and resumes, managing money, interviewing, and even had some time to search for jobs and internships. I definitely walked away from this intensive feeling ready to practice the skills I learned and jump into the job and internship search. I applied the networking and resume tips I learned to the Tri-College Recruiting event I attended in January. I took time in my Fall semester to continually edit my resume based on the different positions I applied for and the intensive helped me feel prepared walking into the recruiting event.

Digital Narratives Intensive – Spring 2019

A podcast in the making!

This intensive was very different from the previous ones in which I had participated. The previous two intensives focused a lot more on professional development while this intensive focused more on skill-building. That being said, it was an interesting change of pace and I learned a lot about the world of media and journalism from this intensive. We started off by discussing the nature of narratives and learning about different forms of narrative platforms: Scalar (essentially a blog), WeVideo

(video editing), and Audacity (digital audio recording). By the end of the two days we were expected to have a draft of a project whether that was on the three platforms or some other form of media. It was fun to have time to play around with these different platforms and explore how we can develop those skills, or Digital Competencies. You can learn more about Digital Competencies here (there’s also a fun quiz you can take!) On the second day we had alumnae come in and review our work, provide feedback, and share their experience graduating from a liberal arts college and pursuing a career in media.

Learning to use WeVideo.

My personal experience with intensives really inspired and motivated me to put the skills that I learned into action. I always walked away from my intensives glad that I participated them and was able to learn something new and connect with new people. I’m also really grateful that the intensives have provided me with the opportunity to explore areas that are not necessarily offered within the liberal arts curriculum. Even though I might not have in-class experience with entrepreneurship or digital media, my experiences attending these intensives reflect a high-level of interest in those topics which I can reflect in my cover letter, resume, and in interviews.

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