Walla Walla Library to Victoria, Australia: SEC Summer Internships

Audrey Hecker, Staff Reporter

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This past Monday, Sept. 10th, students who had summer internships funded by the SEC gathered to reflect on and discuss their varied experiences. From the Walla Walla Library to Victoria, Australia, this year’s summer internship grant recipients were spread far and wide.

With a total of 152 internships supported by the Student Engagement Center (SEC) Internship Grant, the excitement to begin the job search is tangible. Out of the 152 internships, 143 were in the United States and nine were international. Domestic internships occurred in 19 U.S. states and Washington D.C.; the international locations included Australia, China, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Germany, Israel, Peru and Thailand.

The reunion dinner on Sept. 10th served as an opportunity to welcome the students back from their busy summers as interns. Beyond offering the students a chance to reflect and discuss the summer with their peers, 2017 alum Arthur Shemitz addressed the group on the long road to finding your ideal career.

While the breadth and meaning of each internship cannot possibly be accurately captured, below are just a few student highlights.

 

Mimi Feldmann-DeMello ’19

Office of U.S. Senator Edward J. Markey (Boston, MA)

Feldmann-DeMello spent her internship drafting letters of support for constituents submitting visa or political asylum applications, taking phone calls from constituents and answering questions they had about their casework, and attending Naturalization ceremonies, press conferences and immigration hearings.

While Feldmann-DeMello doesn’t see herself working full-time in a Senate office in the future, she enjoyed many aspects of her internship.

“I had the opportunity to attend a Naturalization ceremony of over 300 people, and that was an emotional and also beautiful experience,” she said. “These people were citizens of over 47 other countries and renounced that citizenship to become U.S. citizens.”

 

Alex Cooper ’20

Seattle Children’s Hospital (Seattle, WA)

Cooper worked on designing, implementing and publishing “a study on the integrity of EpiPen devices after being frozen” during his internship.

Cooper’s internship was full of valuable lessons, new skills and some mishaps.

“The main difficulty was keeping track of everything. I was freezing and firing hundreds of EpiPens, each of which had a certain expiration date, lot number and pair,” he said. “[At] one point I accidentally fired an EpiPen into my hand.”

One of his most memorable highlights includes asking the local Safeway butcher “which meat most [resembled] human muscle tissue,” and perhaps the most valuable insight Cooper gained during his internship is that it “helped [him] decide that [he wants] to attend medical school.”

 

Michelle Foster, ‘20

Lutheran Social Services of North Dakota (Fargo, ND)

Foster’s work at the Lutheran Social Services of North Dakota (LSSND) consisted of writing “a range of articles, stories, blog posts and social media posts focusing on the organization’s work and the people involved.” She “attended events, interviewed employees and people receiving LSSND’s services, and sat in on workshops,” using all of the information she gathered from these events to compose narratives.

“One of the most important things I learned from this internship was how important it is to listen carefully and empathetically,” Foster said. “I also learned so much about the different problems people face in my community that I wasn’t very aware of before … It really opened my eyes to the community needs and how important it is to try to help.”

While Foster still isn’t sure about which career path she will take, this internship “reaffirmed [her] hope to have a career in writing,” and taught her many valuable lessons about the Communications field.

 

For some, these summer internships provided unique and valuable insight into the professional setting. For others, it confirmed their unease about pursuing a career after college. Either way, these internships prompted the development of a “professional narrative” for these students, as Shemitz referred to it in his speech on Monday.

“A professional narrative is what you might share at a networking event or when you’re asked to ‘tell me about yourself’ at a job interview,” he said. “I think it’s empowering to develop a professional narrative: you choose what to put in and what to leave out. You choose how to draw the lines between different experiences.”

Regardless of what your professional narrative is or how you choose to compose it, “you are the only person who gets to tell your story … A narrative is looking back, retrospectively, and tying together disparate threads into a unified whole,” Shemitz says.

In this sense, maybe finding a career doesn’t have to be as scary as it seems at first. For some, this collection of personal experiences has already begun to grow, and they find themselves trying to compose their narratives while undergoing the everyday stress of college life. For those students who are still nervous (rightfully so), consider Shemitz’s perspective.

“[Take] where you’ve been, and form it into a story based on where you want to go.”

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