One Thing Leads to Another

summer internship showcase

Students talk about their experiences as summer interns at the 2013 internship showcase, one of the many ways that students can learn from each other about how to find and maximize internships.

For student interns, more is better, creativity is key

Good news: That career-launching internship is out there, waiting to be claimed. But it may not be just one internship, and it may be found somewhere that you didn't quite expect.

That was the takeaway message at last week’s internship showcase, as three former interns described how they used Career Center resources to find and maximize exceptional internship experiences, in hopes of inspiring fellow students to do the same.

'Never stop looking' 

"My advice is to go to the Career Center early, and never stop looking," said Max Russo ’15, a double major in economics and biology from New Jersey. "You have to try hard."

Russo found a plum internship at a Bristol Myers-Squibb laboratory during his first year on campus. That summer, his supervisors were delighted to find that he required very little training or monitoring, because he' d already learned all of the basic lab techniques at Dickinson.

As a result, Russo was able to return to the international pharmaceutical company last summer, this time to use state-of-the-art equipment to research the ways in which rats metabolize various drugs. "It was definitely interesting work, and it was great to be a part of a research team," he said.

Get creative 

Diamond McClincok '14, an art & art-history major from New Jersey, stepped out of her comfort zone last summer to compete with top fashion-design majors for an internship at high-end leather-goods manufacturer Coach Industries. She was thrilled to get the internship, which offered a chance to offer input on leather samples used in the company's 2014 spring line.

"I definitely grew a lot through that experience, and it gave me a lot of confidence," she said. So as winter break neared, she channeled that confidence and cold-called a fine-arts center near her home to ask if they'd create an internship for her. They did."So now, I have an internship in my major," she said. "Sometimes, you have to get creative." 

Explore, adapt, repeat.

Lindsey Blais '14, an international business & management (IB&M) and East Asian studies major and Posse scholar from Los Angeles, was a first-year student at Dickinson when she learned about an internship opportunity at a major semiconductor manufacturer in Shanghai. "It seemed like a good fit, since I am an international-studies major, but I didn't know a thing about semiconductors," she said, "so I immediately got online and started to research," she said.

It was a dream opportunity for an IB&M major. So Blais enlisted Career Center staff to help her draft the proposal, and that summer she worked in China as that company's first American-born intern. She ventured into bold new territory the following summer, when she researched media-use trends at Paramount Studio's New York headquarters and again last summer, when she studied in Japan.

Blais reports that she entered each new setting with ease. "I think the liberal-arts aspect of our education--the fact that Dickinson gives us a broad, diverse background--gives us skills we can apply to any field, so I was able to transfer and apply the skills I'd learned in the first internship to the second one," she said. "That taught me I'm a very adaptable person and now, as a job-seeker, I'm highlighting that skill."

So think big, Blais told fellow students, and see where your experiences lead you.

"Internships are there to teach you basic office and personal skills that will set you apart in an interview, and they can come from places you hadn't thought of," Blais stressed. "Don't be afraid to step outside the box."

Photo caption: Class of 2014 members Max Russo, Diamond McClintock and Linsey Blais urged fellow students to start searching for internship opportunities early in their academic careers and to make use of the resources available to them. “One of the benefits of going to a smaller school like this is that we get so much one-on-one attention from professors and staff members,” Blais said. “People get to know you, and they remember you, and they’ll work with you to help you meet your goals.”

Published February 23, 2014