First in Class: Yarlett is first student to graduate under Maryville College Works program

First in Class: Yarlett is first student to graduate under Maryville College Works program

Dec. 21, 2017

After finishing her graduation requirements this month, Alicia Yarlett ’17 is the first Maryville College student to graduate under the College’s Maryville College Works program. She also completed her requirements a full semester early, allowing her to graduate in only three and a half years.

Yarlett, a design major from Maryville, Tenn., started at Maryville College in fall 2014, when the College launched its comprehensive career preparation program, Maryville College Works.

Maryville College Works integrates career preparation for today’s job market “with a time-tested, small-college liberal arts education,” said Dr. Doug Sofer, MC associate professor of history and director of Maryville College Works.

“Career readiness these days means learning how to market yourself, becoming a pro with new job-search and career-development technologies, and knowing how to sniff out quality opportunities,” Sofer said. “Liberal arts students ask open-ended questions, and have broad knowledge that prepares them to be free-thinking participants in a complex world. Maryville College Works is a step-by-step, developmental curriculum that channels the agility of liberal arts thinking towards specific career goals in order to maximize our graduates’ abilities to find fulfilling vocations.”

In addition to the Maryville College Works program, MC students benefit from a number of campus resources and activities that help with career readiness:

  • newly revamped Career Center that keeps students up to date with new professional trends and that offers individual advising, resume critiques, and workshops on vocational topics 
  • Regular, one-on-one meetings with an advisor who is a faculty member in the student’s major or in a related field.
  • Center for International Education offering opportunities and scholarships for international study and work that last from three weeks to an entire semester.
  • team of faculty and staff tasked with building partnerships with external businesses, organizations and individuals that lead to internships and other meaningful opportunities for students.
  • A continually updated database of available internships, jobs, and work-study positions
  • The Office of Community Engagement focused on resume-building volunteer opportunities and service-learning experiences.
  • Multiple online resources providing experiences and information such as: interview practice, personalized assessments, career descriptions and statistics, and job searches.
  • A vibrant athletics program, including varsity and intramural sports that help build skills desired by employers.
  • Multiple leadership positions available through 50 clubs and organizations on campus.

While the Maryville College Works program requires the completion of a self-assessment, foundational resume and career development plan, the program also requires students to attend career fairs and complete a significant practical experience (SPE), which may take the form of an internship, volunteer opportunity, Senior Study, study abroad experience, creative project or another experience relevant to a student’s career goals.

Yarlett, whose career goal is to work in a graphic design firm, said her design major gave her the opportunity to become familiar with the graphic design programs she will be using for the rest of the career. The Maryville College Works program helped her explore and pursue several internship opportunities that are relevant to her major. She decided to complete her significant practical experience at Maryville graphic design firm Visual Voice.

“I interned for Visual Voice for two and a half years, learning how to interact with customers, expand my design experience and develop conceptual skills that school couldn't teach me,” she said. “(The internship) confirmed that graphic design was what I wanted to do. The skills and awards that I won while working at Visual Voice have allowed me to qualify for many other positions.”

Last summer, Yarlett worked at National School Products, learning about what goes in to building a catalog and the production process. 

Yarlett’s design work also can be seen on the Maryville College campus. Earlier this year, Yarlett created the winning logo design for Isaac’s Café, during a student-led logo search for the café space in Barlett Hall. Yarlett’s senior art show, titled “Gospel,” was on display this month in the Clayton Center for the Arts’ Blackberry Farm Gallery.

“Since Alicia arrived at Maryville College, she has been steadfast in her commitment to make design her chosen career path and consistently built opportunities for herself in internship experiences, award achievement and honing her creativity and skills,” said Adrienne Schwarte, associate professor of design and chair of the Maryville College Division of Fine Arts. “Her achievement in finishing her degree in three and a half years is a testament to her dedication, strong work ethic and her future success as a designer.”   


Maryville College is ideally situated in Maryville, Tenn., between the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Knoxville, the state's third largest city. Founded in 1819, it is the 12th oldest institution of higher learning in the South and maintains an affiliation with the Presbyterian Church (USA). Known for offering its students a rigorous and highly personal experience that includes an undergraduate research requirement, Maryville College is a nationally ranked institution of higher learning that successfully joins the liberal arts and professional preparation. Total enrollment for the Fall 2018 semester is 1,146.