For This Alumna, Returning to Campus Is as Fun as It Is Productive
By: Nick Santangelo
Nisha Parekh, CLA ’06, misses college. Maybe that’s why she keeps on coming back. Well, part of why, at least. The former criminal justice major and psychology minor was on campus last September to recruit students for National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) internships and entry-level work roles and will return tomorrow, February 5, for another recruiting effort.
The Campus Recruitment Team Lead for NGA, Parekh sees a lot of reasons why College of Liberal Arts (CLA) students stand out in the job market. As a CLA alumna and a seasoned recruiter, she knows as well as anyone that a well-rounded liberal arts education makes for a professional who’s able to see issues from different perspectives and solve critical problems in the workplace.
“You communicate better, you develop better interpersonal skills, research skills,” explains Parekh, “which allows you to have healthy debate because there's always going to be differing opinions and different perspectives. But that also allows you to adapt to new ideas and challenges.”
Parekh says those skills translate exceedingly well to working at NGA, which offers many opportunities for mobility within the organization and throughout the intelligence community. The CLA alumna has enjoyed her two years and change there so far, but she knows NGA may not be well-known by students despite being one of the government’s “big six” agencies (out of 17). NGA delivers world-class geospatial intelligence (GEOINT) that provides a decisive advantage to policymakers, warfighters, intelligence professionals and first responders.
“What a student could expect out of an internship is working towards a really meaningful mission, having mentorship from senior leaders, personal growth and development,” says Parekh. “There are a lot of career opportunities here. There's a lot of benefits available, and a lot of great work-life balance options as well.”
Students enrolled in CLA Professional Development courses can find out more tomorrow, as Parekh will be visiting several of these classes, with one being open to the general public in Weiss Hall, Room 517 from 4 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Anyone who wishes to attend the open session must register on Handshake beforehand.
It is humbling how much Temple has helped me
Knowing that NGA isn’t a household name like the NSA or CIA, Parekh urges students to keep an open mind before hearing about the internships it offers. She welcomes any student looking for an internship to come out, ask questions and learn more about the opportunities the agency offers, such as working on geospatial intelligence for national security missions.
Every time Parekh returns to the campus, she’s reminded of things like where she used to sit in Paley Library (now Paley Hall since being replaced by Charles Library last year) as well as the friends she made here and the skills she learned that have powered her successful human resources career.
“You know, it is humbling how much Temple has helped me,” she says. “The Joyce K. Salzberg Center for Professional Development and everybody there does so much to prepare students for that next step or the next season in their lives. It's a lot of fun coming back, and it's kind of full circle for me. I kind of get pulled back here because of where I work, and it gets me back to where I came from.”
Just like every other student, Parekh sometimes wondered if she’d use the things she was learning at CLA when she was pursuing her degree. Fourteen years later, though, she says not only has she used that knowledge, but she’s used it a lot. Being a liberal arts student prepared Parekh for the “real world,” and an internship she landed helped ready Parekh for nonprofit and law firm work early in her career before she transitioned into the human resources profession.
As such, Parekh highly recommends students get involved in experiential learning opportunities like internships. She’s also particularly grateful that she chose to take part in the Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program. The experience gave Parekh a stronger understanding of criminology and criminal justice than she could have picked up from traditional classroom learning alone. Hands-on experiences like Inside-Out and internships, Parekh says, are the best way for students to find out what they do and don’t want to do after graduation.
“An internship is really a two-way evaluation. You’re being looked at as a potential future employee. You're also looking at the potential employer wondering if this the right thing for you to do or not. It is a great way to gain those experiences and network and build relationships. So, really in freshman year, begin taking advantage of the Career Center and NGA’s information sessions and workshops. We're here to help you.”