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July 17, 2000

Internship Program Revs Up

For Calvin College's Andy DeVries placing students in summer internships is a little like matchmaking.

The key is finding a good fit between student and employer, a fit that eventually leads to a "triple win," meaning things work out well for the employer, the student and Calvin.

One of the ways in which DeVries works to make that happen is by getting to know employers. And, he admits, he has a secret weapon in that effort -- a 1999 Harley Davidson Wide Glide, a 612-pound, 1,450-cubic centimeter slice of hog heaven.

"I know with several employers it's been a nice icebreaker," he says. "I've shown up to their place of business on the bike and it's a conversation starter. It helps."

What also helps is that DeVries is no Harley-come-lately. He's been riding cycles for 33 years, since his days as a Calvin student when he once rode his bike through an entire winter after being challenged to do so by a roommate.

That sort of determination is evident in the work that he and Calvin colleague Beth Cok are doing on Calvin's internship program. This summer there are 129 Calvin students working in summer internships, including almost 100 that are using their talents in West Michigan.

"It's fair to say," says DeVries, "that Calvin students are having a significant impact this summer in West Michigan businesses."

DeVries notes that Calvin was able to place a wide variety of students in a wide variety of businesses in a wide variety of jobs within those businesses. He has business majors in the field to be sure, but also chemistry and biology majors, English and Spanish majors, and history and philosophy majors. Philosophy?

"Kent County needed some work done on a history of Grand Rapids," says DeVries. "We placed a philosophy major who loves to write and he got the job done well before they thought he would. They were so pleased to hired him on for the rest of the summer."

Another employer had a maternity leave they needed covered in accounting. DeVries placed an accounting major with the company who will, this summer, be the business's full-time accountant.

This is the first year that DeVries and Cok have run the summer internship program and they are pleased with the results. Their goal was to place 70 interns this summer. DeVries came to Calvin in August of 1999 to work as the Cooperative Education Coordinator as part of Career Services at Calvin. He also teaches courses in the business and recreation departments.

DeVries, a 1970 Calvin graduate with a double major in psychology and physical education, spent a dozen years as a teacher after graduation before becoming a vice president for 13 years for Teledial America/US Signal (which then became U.S. Exchange).

DeVries plans to visit interns this summer on his Harley, including a trip at the end of July to Wisconsin that will include a sidetrip to Milwaukee, home of the Harley.

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Contact Phil de Haan.