For Kira Womack (senior, communications media), graduation is only a few weeks away, but she already has major plans for after IUP, thanks in part to a summer internship and hard work over winter break earning an English teaching diploma.
Womack had an internship this summer in Los Angeles. Before traveling there, Womack also had an interview with Dream Careers. Dream Careers is a company that helps provide housing and accommodations in the Los Angeles area to students whom it feels have the potential to find internships and be successful.
They also show interns the city, provide tours and do other activities with students to make their time in Los Angeles more enjoyable.
After receiving housing from Dream Careers, Womack found an internship on her own. An internship is required for all communications media students to graduate, and she was able to do hers at an actual television company, KidsatPlay.
“It was pretty awesome to me,” Womack said. “I got to travel and go into the entertainment world in a place where entertainment is born. I got to see Hollywood, Beverly Hills and Venice Beach.
“It’s just like any other city, but all the people and entertainment make it what it is. I made some great friends. We still talk about LA and future plans. The good thing about the program is everyone I met there is determined to go back there. You make lifelong friends and see them again.”
This summer, Womack will be returning to Los Angeles to work for Dream Careers as a media specialist. Her new job will require her to create videos to show off the program to new interns.
Because she also went through the experience herself, Womack will be a mentor to interns by helping them become professionals in the entertainment world as well as counseling and advising them however necessary.
Womack said this job is only temporary in relation to her more long-term goals, though. She plans to be in the city only for the summer. After that, she wants to use her recently acquired English teaching certification to teach abroad.
Womack is qualified to teach English to speakers of other languages (TESOL) because of a 250- hour diploma-granting program she took over winter break through UNI-Prep Institute.
UNI-Prep is an accredited university that offers various courses and certifications including TESOL. The course Womack took was online and granted her a diploma in the field.
In addition to various courses she took, she also gained experience student teaching in local schools in her hometown of Oxford over break. Womack said she wants to teach English abroad in order to see the world, pay off her student-loan debts and gain new experiences.
Japan is her preferred country to teach in because she has always been fascinated by the culture, and she took language courses at IUP.
“I just fell in love with Japanese culture because I fell in love with the language,” Womack said. “I like the way they approach things. I like their traditional culture, but also their pop culture. It is very futuristic over there.”
While studying Japanese at IUP, Womack had the opportunity to emcee Japan Night and East Asia Night during her sophomore year.
In spring 2015, Womack also helped organize the first annual IUP Japanese Speech Contest. Her Japanese professor, Yongtaek Kim, asked her to help with the event.
She was responsible for buying supplies, setting up the event with other students and working alongside Kim to plan and make it a success.
The event was open to students from local high schools and other western Pennsylvania colleges such as Carnegie Mellon University, Lock Haven University of Pennsylvania and Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania.
Kira has also been involved in other organizations at IUP, as well.
She was the technical director for TOST and Turned in fall 2015 for the group’s production of “Arsenic and Old Lace.”
She has been involved with IUP-TV as a part of the show “Sketch- O-Phrenia” for two years. During that time, she has served as producer, actor and general crew member.
Womack has also done work for the Center for Media Production and Research, filming IUP commercials, live broadcasts of football and basketball games and projects for professors.
Womack offered some advice to other students, especially those trying to find their niche at IUP.
“Take initiative; don’t undersell yourself,” Womack said. “If you have a goal that you want, go for it. Don’t tell yourself you can’t do it because you can do it.
“Find your passion, definitely, because I bounced around between majors. Instead of focusing on money or status, I focused on what I’d be happy doing, and that is being creative. Why not spend your time in college and life doing what you love?”