By Kate Hartman
In today’s economic climate, college graduates enter into an immensely competitive job market regardless of their degree and chosen profession. Unlike decades past, securing a job requires more than just good grades and a college degree. Students are expected to enter the working world with experience that demonstrates they are fit for the job. That is where internships come in.
“Participating in a credit-bearing internship expands academic opportunities for students by providing them with unique experiences that complement their learning in the classroom,” says Michele Boté, assistant director of experiential learning.
There are many current MU students who pursued valuable and exciting internships this past semester. Here are just five of them.
BALTIMORE AQUARIUM, BALTIMORE
Senior MEGAN O’NEILL is currently interning at the Baltimore Aquarium — a dream job for ocean and animal lovers — though she admits the internship wasn’t immediately on her radar. She assumed it would be a good experience and decided to apply for it; and she was right.
“It was a perfect fit,” says the biology major, who is concentrating in marine biology. “A lot of what I’m learning in my classes pertains to this internship.”
Her morning routine consists of making rounds and feeding the animals. At 10 a.m. she gives a talk to the public while she feeds the wood turtles.
“The public really loves that,” she says. “The animals are more what I’m interested in, but being able to interact with the public and getting groups that are really interested, I enjoy that.”
O’Neill calls her time at the aquarium “a highly positive experience overall.” However, she says she isn’t entirely sure what she wants to do after she graduates. Her immediate goal is to get scuba certified so she can dive in the aquarium tanks.
“Ideally I would like to be out in the field and do fieldwork,” she says, “but with the experience I’ve had here, I can probably get an [entry-level job] at any aquarium.”
HERSHEY ENTERTAINMENT & RESORTS, HERSHEY
Senior COLLIN LONG always wanted to intern for Hershey Entertainment & Resorts. He worked for them in different capacities in the past and his mother works for the company, so she would keep him in the loop about opportunities. When a marketing intern position opened, he was quick to apply.
“What’s nice about Hershey Entertainment is that they own so many different brands,” says Long, who is a business student with a focus on marketing. “You could be working on the Hershey Park or the Hershey Bears. One day you could be working on the Hotel Hershey, and the next you could be working on dining. It’s something different every day.”
As a marketing intern, Long’s main focus is competitive research. He does a lot of work with pricing and competitive offers.
“I think [an internship] gives you an up-front, hands-on view of what you’ll be doing,” he says. “You can learn so much in the classroom, but until you get some hands-on experience, then you can base what you want to do on that.”
LANCASTER FARMLAND TRUST, STRASBURG
For the past five years, senior JESSICA GRAHAM has worked on a dairy farm. Agriculture has always been important to her, and she was looking for an internship that could combine her extracurricular interests with her geography major.
“I heard from another classmate who had interned with the [Lancaster] Farmland Trust. I thought I really want to do that,” she says.
Graham is one of two interns this semester and she says her job centers on mapping and updating building layouts because she has geographic information system (GIS) knowledge. She also gets the opportunity to go on monitoring visits to various farms, which she says is the fun stuff.
“Since [the Lancaster Farmland Trust] mostly deals with Plain Sect farmers, it can sometimes be difficult to establish a relationship,” Graham explains. “It helps if you have an agricultural background. You know what you’re talking about. You know what it means to milk a cow every day.”
The coolest thing she’s gotten to do at her internship? “Having the opportunity to see a herd of water buffalo,” she says.
FENNER PRECISION, MANHEIM
Senior chemistry major DEEPAK RAI is a full-time employee at Fenner Precision in Manheim, but he is also receiving college credit that is getting him closer to his May graduation. Rai is a nontraditional student who balances a full-time job with his course load. It was through some smart advisement that Rai realized he could receive college credit for some of the work he does at Fenner.
Every day Rai completes a battery of routine testing and sometimes helps other employees with different projects, but right now his main focus is on an important project involving the testing of polymers with solvents. He volunteered for the project because he recognized the potential importance.
“Polymer testing is important for the production,” says Rai. “That’s why I stood up and requested they give this project to me.”
After graduation, Rai plans to stay at Fenner Precision and hopefully move up from being a lab technician to other positions within the company.
CLINIC FOR SPECIAL CHILDREN, STRASBURG
LIEL POLLOCK says she completely wrote off the internship at the Clinic for Special Children when she first heard about it because she assumed it was geared toward medical students. As an English major she didn’t see the connection, but when she learned the position was for a public health writing intern, she decided to apply.
“Originally they wanted me to take things that were very complicated and write them in an eighth-grade level of understanding. Many of the people who come are Amish or Mennonite, and they only have an eighth-grade education,” says Pollock. “Along the way they have added a more journalistic aspect because they want to take really interesting patient stories and present them to people who are donating or who are interested in what we do.”
The aspect of her internship that’s the most exciting and unexpected is when she’s able to interview Amish or Mennonite people in their homes. “It shows me a culture I’ve never been exposed to before,” she says.
Pollock says she isn’t sure what she will do after graduation, but this internship and all the experience she has gained with scientific writing has definitely diversified her portfolio and allowed her to think outside the professional box.