Leading with a Smile: How Caitie Shimp ’17 is Preparing for Post-Grad Success
December 22, 2016
For Caitie Shimp ’17, the decision to major in psychology was a no-brainer. A self-described people person, Shimp knew the field of psychology was one in which she would thrive.
“In high school, I took an Advanced Placement Psychology course, and it just clicked,” Shimp explained. “At Mount Union, I began to realize all the things you could do with a psychology degree. I could go into counseling, work in communications, or explore a career in business. I know I’m going to be dealing with people in my career, so what’s better than getting to know the mind behind the person before working with them?”
Despite her friendly nature and draw to psychology, Shimp worried she wouldn’t find her place on campus, but she quickly found her niche in the Black Student Union (BSU).
“Where I grew up, I was one of two black people in my entire school, so joining BSU was a big step for me,” Shimp said. “It truly helped me find a part of myself that I didn’t know I had. The mentors in the organization helped me develop as a leader. I know that the BSU is the key piece that made my experience at Mount Union a memorable one.”
If Shimp could share one piece of advice with fellow and future students, she’d tell them to get involved in a variety of activities – not just ones that fit their personalities, but organizations that shape and educate.
“I really encourage people to not just stick with what they know,” said Shimp. “Once I was comfortable with BSU, it would’ve been really easy for me to stop searching for other opportunities, but I’m glad I didn’t limit my college experience.”
Shimp became the political action chair of BSU, president of Student Senate, student coordinator for the Together Initiating Excellence Program, and a Preview and Raider guide coordinator. Needless to say, the ever-busy senior has her work cut out for her. Still, Shimp explains that her enthusiasm for both her classes and campus involvement make the work enjoyable.
Shimp has refined her skills in the field through two internships. These opportunities gave her the chance to apply what she learned in the classroom in a professional work environment, learn new job skills, discover the areas in which she is able to thrive, and identify those that do not fit her as well.
Her first internship was with the Mount Union Office of Counseling Services.
“For the longest time, I thought I would be a counselor,” Shimp recalled. “After my internship, I realized how much goes into counseling, and I had to really reflect on my own personal well-being. I have the tendency to be there for other people, but forget about myself. This internship was a really great eye-opening experience that made me realize I want the same type of interaction that comes from working with and consoling students, but I don’t necessarily want to be a counselor.”
Her second internship was with the Office of Alcohol, Drug, and Wellness Education at Mount Union. It was through this experience that Shimp started to hone in on what she wanted to do with her degree.
“It was great to see another application of counseling in a student affairs setting,” she said. “I developed a love for student affairs through this internship and all my other leadership roles, and I realized it is the atmosphere in which I want to work. I can still console, counsel, and work with students, but it’s not all that I would do. I feel that both of these internships made me realize what I like from both areas in the field and found that student affairs is the role that gives me the best of both.”
As a senior, Shimp is beginning to search for her next step in achieving her career goals and trying to answer the question, “What am I going to do after Mount Union?”
“I wonder that every day,” Shimp laughed. “I’m actually in the process of applying for graduate school right now, so fingers crossed that goes well. I’m looking at a program that focuses on college as a community.”
According to Shimp, this program seems to be a great place to foster her passions and continue to develop her skills in the field of psychology.
“I’m all about making sure the overall experience for students turns out as they hoped,” Shimp explained. “You’re not going to make every person happy, but I want to encourage college campuses to listen to students and recognize that sometimes pushing boundaries is what we need in our world.”