When Luke Vidic, a blonde-haired pony-tailed senior from Pennsylvania, graduates in May he knows he will be staying in Vermont.

The English major has just signed up to join a small weekly newspaper, The Barton Chronicle, as an assistant editor and general assignment reporter.

“Just meeting people is something I’ve learned I really like about reporting,” Vidic said. “I like listening to people, hearing their stories, talking with them and developing connections.”

Northeastern Vermont is often called the “Kingdom,” a more rural and forested place than Burlington where Luke has made his home the last few years. “One of the things I’m most excited about is just connecting with the area,” Vidic said. “I’ll be covering pretty much anything that could happen in the northeast kingdom.”

Vidic will take with him the critical thinking and writing skills he learned in his classes and the hands-on reporting experience he earned in the College of Arts & Sciences signature internship program called Communities of Practice – where students work directly with professionals in writing, communications, planning and more.

Luke joined the reporting practice where students write stories for small local papers, gaining valuable skills and provided needed content to struggling community papers.

“The skills I learned I’ll take with me forever,” Vidic said. “Learning about researching things, learning how to pick out information and more importantly, learning how to present information. And learning how to write coherently.”

Luke’s internship is part of the rapidly growing internship program in the College of Arts & Sciences. In the last four years, internships in the College have doubled from 250 a year to more than 500.

 “We believe that every student should have the opportunity to have at least one, if not multiple internships during their time at UVM,” said William Falls, the Dean of the College. “Internships provide essential life skills, preparing students for the work place and building the networks and skills they need to succeed.”

Launched in the summer of 2019,  the Communities of Practice program enrolled 114 students in the spring of 2021, Falls said, spread across reporting, planning, research and legislative programs. Luke’s Community News Service internship had 48 students in the spring, writing stories for more than 20 media partners.

Internships are core to a liberal arts education. “They improve students’ writing, critical thinking, and public speaking skills,” Falls said. “Internships allow students to practice these skills while exploring career options.”

For Luke his classes provided training in many of those skills, the internship helped him connect the skills to a career. Also key during his time at UVM were the connections and support he got from his teachers along the way.

One of the teachers who started Luke on this path by sending job ideas and then championing him in the reference interview for the newspaper job is student media advisor Jenny Grosvenor. “Once she learned I was a senior and I was approaching graduation she just started sending me emails with opportunities,” Vidic said. “And I found that really helpful that she put that much care into me.”