Illinois Wesleyan Students Interning Across the Globe This Summer
Aug. 1, 2013
BLOOMINGTON, Ill. – From Fortune 50 companies to nonprofits to a medical clinic in
Peru, approximately 180 Illinois Wesleyan University students are gaining valuable
experience through internships this summer.
“Internships provide the relevant experiences employers are looking for,” said Laurie
Diekhoff, assistant director and internship coordinator of Illinois Wesleyan’s Hart
Career Center. “They allow students to learn about an industry, make professional
contacts and develop concrete skills in preparation for a future career.”
Experts say networking is still the best way to find a job and the same can be said
for finding an internship, especially in a tight market. Several Illinois Wesleyan
students interviewed for this story found their positions through contacts with faculty,
alumni or Wesleyan’s Hart Career Center. Following are the summer experiences of four
Illinois Wesleyan students:
Patrick Nevels ’14, Software Development Engineer Intern, Amazon.com
Patrick Nevels '14
The positive experiences of two former interns (now full-time employees) at Amazon.com
in Seattle influenced computer science major Patrick Nevels to apply for an internship
at the online retailing giant. He is spending 12 weeks writing software to help vendors
reach a wide audience as a member of the Disc-on-Demand team.
“Some DVD and CD orders through Amazon are actually created and packaged after the
order is made, hence the ‘on-demand’ name,” explained Nevels. “We work with big vendors
like Warner Bros. and MTV, but we also work with independent musicians and filmmakers.”
Outside of work, Nevels often sees the two former interns (Kate Siebels ’13 and Ammar
Malik ’13) who work at Amazon, and has enjoyed exploring the Seattle area. On the
job, the internship experience has reinforced his choice of careers.
“This internship is my first real-world software development project, and I can see
myself happily doing this sort of thing for the next 20 years.”
Jenn Oswald ’15, Costume Intern, Great River Shakespeare Festival (GRSF)
Jenn Oswald '15
Oswald, a theatre arts major, is in Winona, Minn., learning first hand what it means
to stage a professional production in less than four weeks with almost no budget.
In addition to its mainstage productions, GRSF puts on an intern-run production —
this year it’s Macbeth. Oswald is the show’s costume designer, in addition to her other responsibilities
on the main productions.
“Designing Macbeth has been the most exciting part of the summer,” said Oswald. “From the beginning,
it was stressed (to the interns) that this was an extra opportunity that goes on top
of our other responsibilities within the company. But it’s given each of us constant
opportunities to learn and remind ourselves how incredible theatre can be when everyone
is as committed as those at GRSF.”
The festival is well known to Illinois Wesleyan theatre students. Wesleyan Costume
Shop Supervisor Jeanne Oost worked at GRSF for several years, connecting many Wesleyan
students, including Oswald, with the company.
After earning her degree, Oswald hopes to work in theatre, balancing costume design
with acting. She said her internship experience has provided a true glance into the
process of professional theatre within the comfort of a nurturing environment.
“The reality of long hours and extremely hard work is rewarded by creating a world
that has the power to transform, if for only three hours at a time,” she said.
Michael Heaton’14, Sales and Marketing Intern, The Horton Group
Michael Heaton '14
The Affordable Care Act’s impact on the insurance industry and one company’s business
clients has been the most significant lesson of Michael Heaton’s internship at The
Horton Group in Chicago.
A finance major, Heaton learned of the internship opportunity through the Hart Career
Center. After researching The Horton Group, one of the largest privately held insurance
brokers in the nation, Heaton applied and was hired as an intern in New Business Development.
Heaton’s tasks include updating the prospect database and utilizing demographics to
suggest social media and advertising options to target prospects.
“I have come to learn how vital it is to bring in new business for The Horton Group
to sustain itself and prosper,” said Heaton.
He said his internship has also increased his interest in the insurance industry as
a possible career. “Regardless of my career choice, this internship is serving as
a tremendous learning experience that will enhance my business acumen.”
Brian Sorich ’14, Research Intern, Northwestern’s McCormick School of Engineering
Brian Sorich '14
Brian Sorich hopes someday to work in the renewable energy field, and he’s currently
taking an important step toward that goal.
Sorich is a research intern in the mechanical engineering lab at Northwestern University,
where his tasks include operating a 3D optical modeling printer. Sorich prints two-millimeter
high springs that are designed to resonate at low frequencies to capture the energy
of ambient vibrations. Graduate students in Sorich’s lab, including Evan Baker ’11,
design the springs for use in vibrational energy harvesting, a process where energy
is derived from solar, wind, kinetic or other renewable sources and then stored for
small autonomous devices.
“One possible application is for pacemakers, so they can power themselves and not
require surgery to replace the battery,” said Sorich.
It was Baker who informed Wesleyan Assistant Professor of Physics Bruno deHarak that
interns were needed in Northwestern’s engineering lab. DeHarak told his students,
and Sorich first secured a position in the summer of 2012, returning this year for
a second stint.
A student in Wesleyan’s pre-engineering 3-2 program, Sorich has finished his three
years at Illinois Wesleyan and will move on to the University of Illinois in August
to complete two additional years of engineering courses. Upon completion of this popular
five-year program, students earn both a bachelor’s degree from Illinois Wesleyan and
a second bachelor’s degree in engineering from the cooperating institution.
“This internship is providing useful and immediate experience in the field I will
study in the fall,” said Sorich. “Plus, the value of gaining some experience in the
alternative energy field cannot be overstated.”
Networking is as important to the Hart Career Center as it is to job seekers. Hart
Center staff reaches out to alumni, parents and on-campus recruiters to develop internship
possibilities for Wesleyan students. Job and internship fairs, one-on-one meetings
with Career Center staff, alumni presentations and panel discussions and electronic
job postings give students multiple opportunities to network and find the internship
that is the best fit for their skills and interests.
Contact: Kim Hill, (309) 556-3960