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University of Pikeville
Office of Career & Professional Development
Darwin V. Kysor
Learn More about Darwin
Campus Employment Specialist
Learn more about Sonia
Faculty are critical to the success of UPIKE students and alumni. They serve students as teachers, advisors, supervisors, mentors and supporters. Many also serve as internship sponsors and provide letters of recommendation for students and alumni seeking employment and graduate/professional school admittance. These roles are all extremely important so we offer a comprehensive variety of resources for your assistance.
The UPIKE Career Development Team is prepared to offer your students an abundant array of opportunities to enhance their career and professional development. This is available through our regular workshop series, classroom presentations and via individual appointments.
For additional information on these and other career topics, check the Career & Professional Development LibGuide
The Career Development Office (and other administrative offices on-campus) is available to cover your class session when you are unavailable due to illness, professional development or any other reason. Possible Career Development topics are listed under Career Programming. Other topics like “What to do with a degree in…” can also be developed. To make arrangements for this service, email Darwin Kysor, Director of Career & Professional Development or call 606-218-4467.
An internship is a structured learning experience where a student applies concepts learned in the classroom to the realities of an on-the-job experience. The primary purpose of an internship is to provide an educationally sound platform for the development of the student’s professional and career readiness skills through a field-based activity. Interns receive practical training and experience in a variety of settings through cooperatively arranged placements. Interns are placed in pre-professional positions and work side-by-side with other employees.
Credit vs. Non-Credit Internships
Credit for internships is not given for work per se. Students apply theoretical concepts to the workplace and assess ideas. Hence, academic credit is given for placing the pre-professional work experience in a conceptual and comparative context. The primary distinction between credit and non-credit internships is the degree to which students are required to reflect on their experiences. This distinction is exhibited in the academic requirements, university supervision, the investment of university resources and the student’s payment for and receipt of credit.
Credit internships are a coordinated responsibility of the faculty, the career development staff and the students. Students may be compensated for internship work if the department and/or faculty sponsor believes the college can maintain enough control of the internship experience to ensure its academic validity. Interns working in non-credit situations normally are compensated.
• A Faculty Guide to Ethical and Legal Standards in Student Employment
• Sample Faculty Reference Letter
Letters of recommendation are often used by an organization’s hiring officials to gather additional information about a candidate. It is assumed that a confidential letter of recommendation will provide a candid viewpoint of an applicant’s abilities and professional promise. The letter of recommendation should give a picture of the candidate’s personal characteristics, performance and experience, strengths, capabilities and professional promise from someone who has worked closely with the candidate. The selection committee relies on these letters to assist in making a final decision.
There are several reasons to refuse a request to write a letter of recommendation: You may not know the applicant well enough, you may not have time to write it by the time the applicant needs it, and you may not feel you could say good things about the applicant, etc. You need to be honest with the applicant about your reasons. If it is lack of knowledge, perhaps a conversation could give you enough information, or the time frame might be negotiable. If you feel you can’t write a good letter, it is vital for the applicant to clearly hear why. This can be an opportunity for growth and a “reality check” for the applicant. It is difficult to say no, but if done with grace and tact, it can be quite productive for the applicant in the “long run.”
Preferably, the person writing the letter of recommendation has been in a supervisory or mentor relationship with the applicant. The letter should be about one page in length, and generally consist of three parts: the opening, the body and the closing.
The writer should explain the relationship between themselves and the candidate and why the letter is being written. Were you a supervisor? President of the company? Advisor? Professor? It is important to indicate this because a professor may see the academic skills while a supervisor may be able to identify work habits.
The body of the recommendation should provide specific information about the applicant based upon the observations of the writer. Information may include: 1) personal characteristics such as poise, confidence, dependability, patience, creativity, etc. 2) Specific areas of strength or special experiences/projects on which they work. 3) How they work with other people, etc.
The closing of the letter should briefly summarize previous points and clearly state that you recommend the candidate for employment, graduate school, etc. Finally, you want to give them your contact information in case they want to contact you directly.
Meeting with the applicant can yield a great deal of information. You should be inquiring (they should be telling you) about what this letter will be used for, (i.e., employment, graduate school, scholarships, etc.). The applicant should also provide you with information regarding their relevant skills, experiences, abilities, strengths, qualities and qualifications—anything that will help you write the letter. Have the person give you a list of accomplishments, organizations they belong to or any other relevant information. It might surprise you to see how much that person has done outside of your contact with them. This can also help you get a more accurate picture of the individual. Having the person give you a copy of their resume is an easy way to have this information at hand. You must find out what sets the applicant apart from the “average.” The more informed you are, the higher quality of the letter, and the quicker and easier it will be to write it. A simple question, “why should I write you a letter?” can be enough to start the conversation.
Ask the applicant if this letter will be confidential or non-confidential; it is their choice. If it is confidential, you will need to send the letter directly to the organization to which they are applying. Some employers (traditional organizations like banks or any educational institutions) prefer confidential letters; the rest are about equally divided in regards to which of the two types they prefer.
Darwin V. Kysor, Ph.D., LPC, NCC
Darwin Kysor has over 30 years of experience in higher education and has been a member of the professional staff at the University of Pikeville since 2020, serving as Director of Career & Professional Development. Previously, he was the Director of Career Services and Internships at Juniata College in Huntingdon, PA, Coordinator of Job Placement & Cooperative Education at Harford Community College in Bel Air, MD and the Cooperative Education Coordinator/Career Counselor at Georgia Southern University in Statesboro, GA.
Darwin graduated with a B.A. in Criminal Justice and M.A. in Counselor Education from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania and a Ph.D. in College Student Services Administration from Oregon State University where he wrote his dissertation on the career benefits of cooperative education/internship experiences. He has been a National Certified Counselor since 1998 and in 2007 was selected as a Fulbright Scholar in the U.S. – Germany International Education Administrators Program.
Professionally, Darwin is a member of the National Association of Colleges and Employers, National Career Development Association, Kentucky Association of College and Employers, Kentucky Career Development Association and the American Counseling Association. He is a Program Reviewer for both NACE and the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Darwin’s family includes spouse Patricia, daughters Riley and Summer and sons Roman, Connor and Pierce.
Sonia Smith, M.A
Sonia has more than 10 years’ experience in higher education, providing career guidance to students on their journey as they explore how they want to live and craft a meaningful life. Utilizing reflection, listening, curiosity, questioning, experiential learning, and holistic exploration she has developed opportunities and created and managed programs for students to connect their studies, major, interest, responsibilities, work and what they are curious about doing in the world in order to better design their life. Sonia integrates and utilizes her background and experience in ministry, human resources, work with non-profits, internship and job development, volunteer services, and student employment to engage students, connecting their desire for work with interests in studies and life.
Guided by a professional interest and emphasis on “How Do I Do What I Say I Believe in the World,” Sonia enthusiastically works with students to design a life with purpose and meaning. Sonia has certifications to work with and interpret the Myers Briggs Type Indicator and the Strong Interest Inventory in addition to grant writing. Her educational background includes psychology, understanding human development and counseling as well as teaching and administration along with curriculum development. She holds a M.A.C.E. from Union Seminary and B.A in Psychology from Meredith College. Professionally she has taught college classes and presented at conferences for organizations including the national conference for the Network for Vocation in Undergraduate Education (NetVUE) “Fostering Student Vocational Discernment through Clearness Committees” (also awarded a grant for this) and Career Development Professionals of Indiana, state conference, on a marketing case study.
At the University of Pikeville, Sonia enjoys helping students find where they are supposed to be as they connect their education with employment. She served as a mentor for the national NASPA Undergraduate Fellow Program (NUFP) and oversees the university’s participation in the “Student of the Year” national award including winning the KY state award two years in a row. For fun, Sonia appreciates cooking, reading, traveling (in person and virtually) domestically and internationally, spending time with friends and family, and keeping up with her nieces, ages 6 and 21.
To contact Sonia: email@example.com or 606-218-5223