Interns in Action: Developing New Skills & Serving the Greater Good

Dickinson College student Interns

by MaryAlice Bitts-Jackson

Hundreds of Dickinson students took on summer internships at sites including NBC Universal, the American Museum of Natural History, the United States Congress, the National Forest Service, Amazon, TripAdvisor, Sprint, Uber, L.L.Bean, the Children’s Defense Fund, Apple Computer, Marie Claire, the American Federation of Teachers, the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), Wells Fargo, the National Aquarium and the Philadelphia Medical Examiner’s Office.

Each used what they’ve been learning in class—and, in many cases, during previous internships—to help lay the groundwork for successful and satisfying future careers that will enable them to make a meaningful impact on the wider world.

Students like international business & management majors Nicholas Struzenski ’18 and Khoi Nguyen ’19 saw direct translations from classroom lessons on risk management to their internship experiences—while Struzenski conducted investigations at Ernst & Young, Nguyen analyzed trips to and from a major airport to uncover patterns and detect fraud for Uber in Hanoi. Others, like Molly Gorelick ’19, learned to apply traditional skills in fresh ways. As a social media intern at the Franklin Institute, Gorelick took her English major writing skills to another level to create strategic posts that advanced the nonprofit’s goals.

These experiences can open up unforeseen paths to students at the start of career decision-making and can fine-tune career plans. Mitchell Andres ’18 says his sales and marketing internship at Discovery Communications afforded “a 360-degree view of the world of media” and a clearer picture of the work he enjoys. Erica Wells ’19 will use her experiences as a programming intern with the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum to craft a career that combines education and sports.

Internships also provide opportunities for students to engage meaningfully in issues they care about and work with organizations committed to serving the greater good. Ashley Morefield ’18, an international studies major, prepared for a career in conflict prevention and resolution while serving a communications and policy internship at STAND: The Student-Led Movement to End Mass Atrocities in Washington, D.C. Carol Fadalla ’18, a psychology major planning a career in health care, completed lesson plans, conducted surveys and led educational sessions in India through the Comprehensive Rural Health Project, an NGO that works to build healthier communities around the world.

Lisi Mueller ’18 had a chance to view an issue from two different professional perspectives. An aspiring fifth-grade teacher, Mueller describes her latest internship with the Earth Day Education Network as “a big change of pace” from her work the previous summer with the National Republican Convention. Both were valuable experiences, and she plans to apply what she’s learned this year about sustainability education in her future lesson plans.

It all adds up to much more than resumé bullets, says Mueller, who broadened her professional contacts, as well as her worldview, over lunch breaks with coworkers and fellow interns. And it’s all made more widely accessible through an internship grant program, supported by the college and alumni, which helps cover housing and related costs for students pursuing an unpaid or low-pay internship. Fadalla and Gorelick are among the students who received alumni-supported awards. Both are grateful for the opportunity and the new possibilities ahead.

“I will be able to move in a more focused direction when searching for a job after graduation,” Gorelick says. And that’s why Struzenski advises fellow students to contact the Career Center early and to keep an open mind about the opportunities that arise.

“Sometimes the experiences that are slightly outside of our interests are the ones we can learn from the most,” he says. “It’s one of the great things about a liberal-arts education—it allows you to be flexible, adapt to dynamic environments and easily learn new skills.”

Read more from the fall 2017 issue of Dickinson Magazine.


Published November 3, 2017