Shelby Schuster '15 and Chris Brandt, executive vice president of Hourigan Construction
2/27/14The Randolph-Macon College experience gives students The EDGE through an exceptional education, faculty mentorship, alumni connections and career preparation for a competitive advantage in the marketplace and lifelong success.
Yellow Jackets learn how to be leaders, thinkers, and communicators, and they can put it all into practice with a tailor-made internship—essential experience in today’s competitive job market. R-MC’s Bassett Internship Program has placed more than 3,000 students in internships in the U.S. and abroad since 1982. The program provides students the resources to identify and pursue academic, paid, or volunteer internships in any career field.
Learning by DoingShelby Schuster ’15, an environmental studies and political science major and sociology/anthropology minor, interned at Hourigan Construction in Virginia Beach, Virginia during January Term (J-term). At Hourigan, she learned about the theory and application of sustainable design (“green” building) by studying Living Building Challenge™ and LEED (two sustainable-building certification programs) and by observing the construction process of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s Brock Environmental Center.
The Center, named for Joan and Macon Brock Jr. ’64, is an international model for sustainable building and will serve as the regional headquarters for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and its award-winning programs. The Brocks generously provided a $3.6 million leadership gift toward the $21 million project. The Center, located at Pleasure House Point in Virginia Beach, is slated to open in fall 2014.
MentorshipSchuster interned under the guidance of Hourigan’s Executive Vice President Chris Brandt.
“The purpose of my internship was for me to learn about sustainable building in theory and in design via the Brock Environmental Center,” says Schuster. “I learned how to read blueprints, attended meetings, participated in conference calls, and visited the building site.” Brandt’s role as mentor was to allow Schuster to independently study an established design system and provide feedback about their relevance.“Internships promote the creative thought process of the intern,” says Brandt. “In Shelby’s case, the analysis of the Living Building Challenge™ design requirements for the most sustainable building on the East Coast was perfectly aligned with her environmental studies major. Her interpretation of the LBC design guidelines demonstrated her ability to analyze and challenge the logic of the established process and to propose possible alternate avenues for achieving the certification.”
R-MC Geology and Environmental Studies Professor Michael Fenster, who helped Schuster secure the internship, serves as her advisor. Fenster is the Stephen H. Watts Professor of Science.
“The story of my internship would not be complete without mentioning the help that I received from Professor Fenster,” says Schuster. “Prior to my internship placement, he provided valuable assistance in the development of my résumé and cover letter. During my internship, I emailed him weekly to give him updates, and his responses always boosted me and gave me a sense of achievement.” Schuster also prepared for J-term by attending an Internship Seminar hosted by the Randolph-Macon EDGE.
“Most of my dreams and ambitions are related to making Earth a better place,” says Schuster. “Although my post-R-MC plans are still in the making, I do know that I want to further my education and one day become a LEED professional. My internship experience really opened my eyes to all the possibilities that are out there.”
The Randolph-Macon EDGEThe EDGE is an intensive four-year program that prepares students for life after college. Located within the Career for Personal and Professional Development, the EDGE gives students a competitive advantage in the job market or graduate-school admissions process. Workshops, internships, one-on one advising and a host of other resources ensure that students who graduate from R-MC are lifelong learners who can think critically and adapt to new situations.