Field Work Term and the Plan Process
FWT experiences are a fantastic opportunity to translate theory into practice and to stretch out of the comfort zone of a classroom into the dynamic unknown of the working world. One of the best ways to maximize this opportunity is to think about how each FWT will integrate with your Academic Plan and will build upon both prior FWT experience(s) and your coursework. In other words, think of all your FWTs as a continuum of learning that help generate momentum towards your academic and professional objectives. Although everyone’s FWT path is a bit unique, the following suggestions are designed to help you think about how to integrate FWT into your Plan Process and get the most out of your Bennington education.
Your First Year
Explore. Take this first FWT to try something new. Explore a field you’re curious about. Perhaps delve into an interest that has recently blossomed over the summer or during your fall term. Try working in an environment different from where you may have worked before. If you’re debating what you want your Plan to focus on next year, test drive a position in one of these possible future areas of study and see how you like it. Attempt something that will challenge you in new ways. Be bold. When writing your first-year reflection essay, include how you imagine your first FWT will impact the educational inquiries that are beginning to come into clearer focus.
Your Second and Third Years
Examine. Now it’s time to take the academic areas of study that are surfacing in your Plan Process and deepen and broaden your learning in these fields. Use these FWTs to: expand your network; develop special skills in your field(s) of interest; and examine various ways these areas intersect with different professions and with the world. Challenge your assumptions about your career preferences. Just as you are likely doing in your courses, go ahead and wrestle with pressing issues—as they relate to your areas of professional exploration. Engage with the world at the next level of your civic, intellectual and professional development. Consider what role organizations, and you as a member of them, play in local, regional, national and world communities. Go abroad if you haven’t already. If it’s your third year, maybe take on that Independent Study you’ve wanted to tackle. In addition to gaining particular skills, push yourself to explore the bigger questions related to what it means to be a citizen and a professional working in an interconnected world. As you draft and revise your Plan, and as you develop advanced work to increase breadth and depth of study, select FWT opportunities that support these learning objectives.
Your Final Year
Extend. In preparing for your last FWT, it’s a time to review what you’ve done to date, where you are headed and how to build a strong bridge between the two. In consultation with your advisor, you might want to look back over your previous FWTs, summer employment, and coursework, to see if there are any gaps in your study or professional pursuits. How can this FWT help close any gaps? Additionally, in looking to the future, you may also want to weigh opportunities that will best position you for employment after graduation. Perhaps explore an area of the country or world where you hope to relocate. Seek a position in a field where you can make strong, relevant connections for your future. This is an ideal time to clarify personal and professional goals as well as make important contacts with potential future colleagues and employers. In the fall, you will also have the opportunity to take part in Life After Bennington Weekend, where you’ll hear from alumni, build your network, and begin to think about life after graduation. As you write your eighth-term Plan essay in the spring, you’ll have a chance to wrap up your undergraduate time by reflecting on how FWT, your coursework, and all elements of your education have culminated into your unique Bennington experience.