On the Job
Southwestern students gaining valuable experience through summer internships
From California to Germany, Southwestern students are gaining valuable job experience this summer through a variety of interesting internships.
Meredith Henry, a junior art history major, landed an internship with the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C. She is working in the library that is shared by the Smithsonian and the National Portrait Gallery and helps with updating artist files, shelving books, and assisting researchers who use the facilities.
“I am loving being here and working at the Smithsonian,” Henry said. “I have learned a ton about American art, which is something I didn’t know too much about.”
Henry prepared for her internship with the Smithsonian by working in the Special Collections department of Southwestern’s library this spring. She would like to work in the curatorial or publication department of a museum. “This internship has helped me understand the day-to-day of working in a museum and what kind of tasks each department performs, which has helped me decide where in the museum field I would like to study,” Henry said. In addition to helping her figure out her future career path, Henry hopes her internship will help her “get my name out there and make connections with people who could possibly help me get a job after I graduate.”
Senior business major Shant Yegparian is in Los Angeles this summer doing an internship in the interactive department of MGM Studios. “I’m learning a lot about how the entertainment industry works,” said Yegparian, who hopes to pursue a career in the industry after he graduates. So, far, he said he has had the chance to read some scripts, work on a couple of iPhone application projects, as well as some other research projects.
Pelham Keahey, a senior physics major, landed an internship at the University of Münster Institute for Nuclear Physics in Münster, Germany. This lab is doing work for CERN’s Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland, which was featured in the recent movie “Angels and Demons.”
The lab is one of several involved with A Large Ion Collider Experiment (ALICE), which is one of the detectors for the Large Hadron Collider. Keahey is assisting with the assembly of the Transition Radiation Detector which is part of ALICE. In addition, he is developing computer programs to look at data that will be produced by experiments when the LHC becomes operational in the fall.
This is Keahey’s third physics internship. Last summer, he interned at Stanford’s Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC) and the previous summer he worked in a smaller particle accelerator lab at the University of North Texas.
Although he enjoys particle physics, Keahey said he would like to land a job with NASA after he graduates.
Cameron Clinton, a junior who is double-majoring in biology and English, is doing an internship at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago as part of the Kemper Scholars Program. The Kemper Scholars Program provides its recipients with scholarships between $3,000 and $8,000 each academic year, as well as stipends for internships the summer after the students’ sophomore and junior years. The summer after their sophomore year Kemper scholars work in a major nonprofit in Chicago, and after their junior year the scholars can intern at a for-profit organization anywhere in the world.
Clinton chose to work at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago because it combines the goal of the Kemper Scholars Program, which is to educate students about being a leader in the professional world, with his interest in medicine. His internship has allowed him to get an in-depth look into medicine as well as the administrative side of healthcare. Clinton has observed doctors going on their daily rounds and attended lectures on topics such as “Cognitive Neuroscience” and “Rehabilitative Care 101 for the Primary Care Pediatrician.” He’s also been helping the hospital’s corporate compliance director prepare for the institute’s audit from the Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO). His duties have included everything from examining research files to ensure that they are properly documented, examining billing operations to ensure that they are equitable between physicians, to working on statistics about how many staff complete their yearly competency requirements.
Clinton’s other large project is to create a type of database known as “The Brain.” “The goal is to implement some sort of system in which top-of-the-line peer-reviewed journal articles can be reviewed and digested, then compiled so that staff wishing to continue their education or stay on top of the most recent developments in their fields have easy access to the latest and best articles without spending too much time. Ultimately, it will become a sort of information hub for all disciplines at the hospital—physical therapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy, and physical and rehabilitation medicine,” Clinton said.
The wide variety of tasks that Clinton has been given have made his internship an invaluable experience. “I’ve gotten to observe the system within which physicians operate first hand, and learn some things about the medical field that most undergrads (and even some med students) aren’t aware of until they finish their education and are pushed into the culture. I’m also getting to work on some projects that really matter, where my work has real impact and weight. These projects are major initiatives of the hospital that are ongoing and will continue to evolve and change after I leave, but assisting with starting them is extremely rewarding,” Clinton said. While he is still unsure which area of medicine he would eventually like to practice, Clinton said this internship has solidified his desire to enter the medical field.
Four Southwestern students are working with community service groups in Houston and Dallas through a program sponsored by Exxon Mobil.
The Exxon Mobil Community Summer Jobs Program was founded in 1971. In addition to placing students in eight-week internships in various nonprofit organizations, the program also gives students the chance to participate in service projects and professional development workshops. These supplemental experiences are one thing that Leslie Haire, a sophomore who is undecided about her major, values highly about her internship experience at the San Jose Clinic in Houston.
“Instead of just sending each of the 65 interns to their separate nonprofits for the summer, they’ve really encouraged us to get to know each other and share our experiences,” Haire said. Supplemental experiences planned for the summer interns in Houston include a breakfast and introduction to the program, two intern development seminars, a service project and a final get-together at the Alley Theatre.
Recently, about 20 interns in Houston took half a day off from their internship sites and painted a day care center. “It was a nice break from the daily duties that come with the internship and I really enjoyed the time spent with the other interns,” Haire said. “Everybody is having completely different experiences, but it just highlights how diverse the nonprofit field is.”
This is Haire’s first experience working for a nonprofit organization, and the San Jose Clinic is helping her understand its entire operation. She is working in the Development Department and directly assists the grants coordinator, but she also spends one day each week in a different area of the clinic. “My employers want me to understand how the clinic works as a whole, and so far I’ve observed the dental and optometry departments and a pediatrician, and I’ve assisted with cataloging medications in the pharmacy,” Haire said.
Other students doing internships through the ExxonMobil program this summer are Mayra Garcia, Lauren Hamlett and Alyse Haugen. Garcia is working with another nonprofit in the Houston area and Hamlett and Haugen are working in Dallas.