Internships help you explore fields, jobs and workplaces you’re interested in as you develop career plans and gain the skills and experiences for postgraduation success. They also can help you build your professional network, get ready for the workforce and identify the workplace types and cultures that work best for you. Sometimes, they lead to job tips and offers—or to connections that could pay off big down the road. And the more internships you have, the more you’ll know about the jobs and work environments that are out there and that interest you.
That's why at Dickinson 92% of students complete an internship, research, externship, service learning or field experience course before graduation. Below is a dose of inspiration and unfiltered advice from some of those students, who recently completed summer internships.
Beach (environmental science) helped to lead volunteers with garden maintenance and planning, collected data for an insect inventory and updated educational materials. She particularly enjoyed helping out with animal care—especially feeding the seahorses.
Best advice: “Try to find an internship where you will be doing a variety of things. That way you can get a better idea of what your interests are."
Bechtel (earth sciences) built a database of rock and mineral samples, prepared rock samples for petrographic analysis, worked on a survey of sinkholes, digitized geologic maps and performed geologic field work.
Best advice: “Start hunting for an internship early. And as with any job, you only get out of it what you put in. Talk to professionals and show genuine interest in what you’re doing and more interesting work will come your way."
Dunn (law & policy), who plans to run his own distillery one day, prepped ingredients, loaded the fermenter, operated the still and worked with the team on all aspects of creating the product. He also traveled with his supervisor to meet with legislators and discuss alcohol-related bills, and he learned about day-to-day operations and related laws.
Best advice: "Don't be afraid to ask 'stupid' questions, and make as many meaningful connections as you can."
Gianni (environmental science), who learned about internship opportunity at NRG Energy from a 2016 Dickinson grad who works there, interned in NRG's sustainability and advisory-services department. Throughout the summer, she helped to convert the company’s vehicle fleet to 100% electric vehicles, performed customer analysis and market research, prototyped solutions, and created a database. She says her prior internship with Dickinson’s Center for Sustainability Education helped set her apart from fellow applicants and empowered her to make a positive impact through her internship, beginning on day one.
Best advice: “The things you learn during an internship are unlike anything that you will find in a classroom, so I highly recommend applying for as many internships as you can."
Drda (biology) has served several patient-care internships at UPMC Central Pennsylvania hospitals. In summer 2022 he mixed it up as a research intern at Georgetown, where he analyzed liver tissues for cancer and stem-cell markers and investigated the mechanism underlying hepatocellular carcinoma. He also gave weekly presentations about the ongoing work.
Best advice: “Rejection happens to everyone—own it! Use what you learned to better your next application.”
Each of these students shadowed physicians and other medical personnel in various departments and gained valuable insight into the medical profession. Galvez-Ceron (biochemistry & molecular biology) (pictured on the right above) particularly enjoyed learning about obstetrics and gynecology. Shearer (biochemistry & molecular biology) (pictured on the left above) plans to become a pediatrician, and especially appreciated the chance to work with pediatricians and the children they serve. For Yamoah (biology) (pictured in the middle above), who was raised in a small village in Ghana where there's little access to Western medical treatments, the highlight was working with underserved communities through the mobile-services unit.
Best advice: Pursue an internship! "This internship was very valuable and meaningful to me. Choosing a memorable moment is hard, because every aspect of this five-week program was significant," explains Galvez-Ceron.
After serving a chemistry research internship at Wilkes University last summer, Herman (biochemistry & molecular biology, environmental science) interned this year in cardiothoracic surgery research at CHOP—the very place where she’d undergone open-heart surgery as an infant. Herman shadowed physicians and nurses, watched cardiothoracic surgeries, attended educational conferences, went on NICU rounds, helped patients move to new units and updated a database. She enjoyed seeing how her classroom work applies in a work setting, and CHOP already offered her a postgraduation job.
Best advice: Go for it. "Whether they further ignite your passion or teach you that maybe you should be looking into other fields, internships are extremely helpful."
Kakou (political science) wrote reports, attended conferences, organized events, contributed writing for speeches and performed data analysis. He says the variety of work helped him pinpoint what he’d like to do professionally.
Best advice: “Internships are the bridge between academic and professional life. It is through these experiences that we learn better, we consolidate knowledge, and, above all, we begin to make decisions and develop a vision of what steps need to be taken to achieve our goals."
Loalbo (physics) researched quantum physics and material science through an internship he discovered through the National Science Foundation website. That work gave him greater exposure to job options for physics majors.
Best advice: “Find the internships that really interest you, and spend time creating strong applications.”
This summer marked Lynch's (international business & management) second as a Comcast/CNBC finance intern. She is now applying to Comcast’s CORE Finance Associate program. “I know a lot more about the field now, and I can apply the soft and hard skills I’ve gained here in any academic or professional setting,” she says.
Best advice: "Reach out to people to discuss your goals, interests and skills, because you never know if it will open up a potential job opportunity."
Makosky (art history, Middle East studies) completed one of the nation’s most prestigious internships, where she put her writing and research skills to work, contributing to research for an upcoming exhibition on Sufism. Throughout the internship, she learned about the remote internship through one of her art-history professors.
Best advice: "Talk to your professors before, during and after your internship. They know their fields and want to help you succeed. For example, go to their office hours! Send them emails about opportunities you find and things that interest you, and don’t forget to talk to your professors once you finish your internship. This will help you process your experience and think about next steps. Also, don't be afraid to apply for big opportunities. If you have worked hard on your application and are happy with everything you are submitting, then you should be proud of yourself. Take pride in your personhood and put yourself out there!"
Orefice (environmental studies) researched and wrote for grants and posted on the center’s Instagram account. She learned how nonprofits work and how to apply for grants, and she practiced her Italian-language skills while preparing to study abroad in Bologna this year.
Best advice: “Start applying for internships early in the year, and reach out to your advisor and the Career Center for support."
Rojek (philosophy) was an outreach intern in Gov. Phil Murphy's office—an opportunity he found through the nj.gov website. He archived data and communicated with advocacy groups through site visits and virtual meetings, and he archived data. Previously, he interned at the Office of the Mercer County Clerk, working on political campaigns through the New Jersey Democratic Assembly Campaign Committee and in nonprofit administration through Leadership Cumberland.
Best advice: “Say 'yes.' Never assume a position or task is beneath you."
As a first-year, Schultze (international studies, Chinese) attended a Career Center event and connected with Dickinson Trustee Craig Weeks ’77. Weeks recommended that she take part in a five-week virtual program with Citi, and she did. That led her to pursue a summer analyst internship with Citi. in Buffalo, New York, this past summer, working as part of a sanction-screening team and getting involved with Citi's affinity networks and mentorship program. In between her Citi program and internship, she completed a research internship at the U.S. Army War College. She has also worked in Dickinson's admissions office.
Best advice: "Attend campus events to learn about different career paths. Network with Dickinson alumni, because this can provide you many opportunities to ask about their experiences in the workforce. And be proactive in your internship search. It helps to be prepared and it can alleviate some stress.”
Shannon (law & policy, international studies) (pictured on the left above) was an intergovernmental affairs intern in Gov. Tom Wolf's office—a position he learned about from former internship bosses in the Office of U.S. Senator Robert Casey Jr. His 2022 internship focused on helping constituents and writing outreach materials about specific policies. Shannon had also previously served as a congressional intern in the office of Jim McGovern and an intern at the Center for New Americans.
Best advice: “It's important to have fun and create lasting bonds with your colleagues and form strong professional relationships."
Warren (data analytics) used his GIS-software and Python skills as a data-analyst intern, working on site two days a week and working the remainder of the week remotely. He says that the experience of directing his own work within an office setting was perhaps even more useful than the technical skills he picked up.
Best advice: “If an internship program is going to provide an influential learning experience from which you're going to grow, then absolutely do it.”
Learn more about internships.
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Published September 12, 2022