Above: Noah Williams is spending his summer working as an art curator and collector with the Medical University of South Carolina’s Arts in Healing program.
The summer is upon us. And, for most college students, it’s a time of fun and exploration away from the daily rigors of class. But it can also be daunting, particularly for those preparing to make the transition from college to what comes next.
Coursework, exams and research, among all the other experiences, make great preparation for the working world or graduate school. But those things don’t necessarily provide an opportunity to fully explore career interests. That’s where the experiential education of an internship really offers advantages.
Students at the College of Charleston understand this. It’s why some 71% of those who recently received their undergraduate degrees had one or more internship experience, many of which were supported by CofC’s academic departments and Career Center. That figure is well above the national average for undergraduates. And those experiences span the spectrum from roles in the humanities and the sciences to business, engineering, the arts and beyond.
The College Today surveyed a group of current students to learn about their summer 2022 internship plans and how these experiences will help support their goals after graduation.
Year/major: Rising junior; computer science major with a minor in mathematics
Internship: Working in software development with Dominion Energy
Outlook: “I was part of the Career Center‘s Internship Award cohort for 2021-22, which has been such an invaluable experience. We were coached on networking skills, writing cover letters and LinkedIn profiles. We worked one-on-one with staffers in the center to develop specific applications for internships and do mock interviews. Ultimately, I wouldn’t have secured this internship without that support. So, this summer, I’ll be based near Columbia, South Carolina, at Dominion Energy’s South Carolina headquarters, working on several in-house software projects. All this work is custom-tailored to meet the needs of the company and that will be exciting for me.”
Year/major: Rising senior; international studies, political science and French triple major with a minor in German
Internship: Working at the United Nations University(UNU)-MERIT in The Netherlands
Outlook: “I’m spending my summer as a research intern for UNU-Merit and the institution’s Migration Lab. My work is focused on the return and reintegration trends and data. This includes creating and delivering country briefs, as well as transcribing interviews from experts on various regions and their outlook and forecasts regarding migration trends.
“I’m working with and learning from scholars, policy makers and experts in the field of migration, and it has been such a pleasure already just getting to know them. I’ve tailored my studies at CofC to give me a good base in the field of migration, so it’s really great to be able to put that education to use by actually researching and working in this field. I think that studying migration – in particular forced migration – is extremely important and timely. So many people are displaced around the world and understanding the trends and being able to predict what might happen in the future can be really helpful in creating sustainable policies and finding funding to actually make a difference. Forced migration and displacement are the areas that I hope to focus on professionally, either in the form of academia or by informing policy through other ways. That part I’m not sure about yet, but I’m sure this internship will give me more direction.”
Gabriella “Bunny” Nazari
Year/major: Rising junior; psychology major
Internship: Social media intern with D.C. United soccer team
Outlook: “I will be working closely with the content and communications team at D.C. United, a professional men’s soccer team based in Washington, D.C. My role is to assist the digital media workers, the graphic designers, the videographers and other content creators in drafting, creating and publishing content for the team’s social media platforms, including Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. In addition, I’ll be meeting with the team’s sports psychologist and learning about her work because I aspire to become a sports psychologist for a professional team in the future.
I was fortunate to get this internship through a connection with the president of the club, and that’s partially due to my extensive background in soccer. (I play on the women’s soccer team at the College.) I hope this internship will give me a sense of what it’s like to work behind the scenes of the sport and how I can use my knowledge of the game in a way that goes beyond being on the field and playing. I’m really looking forward to this opportunity.”
Year/major: Junior; astrophysics major with a minor in mathematics
Internship: Conducting research with professor Joseph Carson of the College’s Department of Physics and Astronomy to analyze the activity of select stars
Outlook: “I was fortunate to secure a research position with Dr. Carson my second semester on campus. I took the initiative to email him about his research and he invited me to discuss that. I was originally interested in this opportunity just for the experience, which is helpful preparation for graduate school. Now, however, my internship is funded by NASA’s South Carolina Space Consortium, so the project has become more involved. We’ll be using specialized software to analyze spectra from stars and determining the activity level of those stars. Part of our work this summer involves traveling to Chile to make use of the telescope at La Silla Observatory on the outskirts of the Atacama Desert. Ultimately, my hope is to advance my understanding of the influence of stars on planetary evolution. In addition, I’ll learn how to conduct observations and work with new data analysis software.”
Year/major: Rising senior; public health major
Internship: Working as the behavior health and health policy intern at Westat, a research company based in Maryland
Outlook: “I’m super excited to be doing this internship with Westat, even though it will be virtual. Yes, I’ll be paid, but more importantly, I’ll be gaining experience in a public health-related profession that I’m passionate about. I wouldn’t have this opportunity if I hadn’t been diligent about researching positions in this field and then completing the application as well as multiple rounds of interviews. Now, I get to work with survey databases that reflect patient experiences as well as provider and staff data from healthcare facilities. I’ll be conducting quality-control checks on data and reports, and I’ll be able to present the results using infographics and other data-visualization products. For me, it will be a great way to gain advanced technical skills, but it will also provide me good exposure to how a successful public health corporation operates and collaborates with other agencies and organizations. Ultimately, I’ll gain a better understanding of the tangible ways to tackle a very important mission, which is the core work at Westat – improving lives through research.”
Year/major: Rising senior; majoring in data science with a concentration in business analytics
Internship: Working with the Healthcare Fraud Protection Program (HFPP) at General Dynamics Information Technology
Outlook: “This summer, I’ll be helping to identify and analyze fraudulent claims and transactions. The HFPP is a public-private partnership between federal, state and local government agencies as well as private health insurance plans and anti-fraud associations in healthcare. The goal of this organization, and my internship, is to identify and reduce fraud and abuse across the healthcare sector. I will be working with both the raw data and data studies to find underlying patterns and relationships that could lead to the discovery of fraudulent charges. I’m fortunate that this is a paid position, but I mainly accepted this role for the experience I’ll get and the possible network connections I can make.”
Year/major: Rising senior; arts management and art history double major
Internship: Art curator and collector with Arts in Healing, a program at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC)
Outlook: “I actually did my first internship with Arts in Healing as a sophomore. After doing that for most of the year, the organization asked me to take on that role as a part-time job, and I’ve been working there ever since. Now, I curate artwork for the various spaces at MUSC and I create proposals for exhibitions and new additions to the hospital system’s extensive art collection. For me, a highlight has been the experience of working closely with artists and selecting work for the corporate offices that reflects the themes of sustainability, gentrification and equity. I’ve realized that I’m most excited when we begin hanging and displaying the pieces we’ve purchased and start meeting the needs of our care team members, patients and the hospital’s leaders.
For me, this internship presented an opportunity to really take ownership of the role and work with the supervisors to determine where it could go. In that way, internships are much more than a hypothetical work situation. If you really invest yourself and are passionate about the work, there’s a strong chance that you can turn your internship into something larger. That’s what happened for me.”