Student Internships Open a World of Opportunities

Sept. 11, 2018

Freeman Asia
Freeman Asia intern Grant Park ’19 assists with taking a blood pressure reading while interning with the Food & Nutrition Research Institute in the Philippines.

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. — From a lab at Yale University, to a research institute in the Philippines, to a packed baseball stadium in California, hundreds of Illinois Wesleyan students spent the summer building valuable hands-on experience by interning at places as diverse as their interests.

“Internships are an excellent way for our students to gain experiential learning opportunities,” said assistant director for career engagement at the Hart Career Center Brian Richardson ’09. “Whether students are curious about a particular industry or career field, or they want to see how their classroom learning experience applies in a professional work environment, internships are the perfect platform to allow students to explore their passions.”

While some Illinois Wesleyan students remained in the United States for their internships, others interned abroad. A group of 36 IWU Freeman Asia interns – the most in the program’s four-year history at IWU – spent the summer working at 16 internship sites in four countries across Asia, thanks to the renewal of a $400,000 grant from the Freeman Foundation. In addition to Freeman Asia, other University programs – such as the Fund for Human Rights, Environmental Sustainability, and Social Justice – supported student internship opportunities across the globe.

Following are the summer experiences of a few Illinois Wesleyan interns:

Nina Anderson
Nina Anderson (center left) with Logan Kent '13 (center right) and two additional interns.

Nina Anderson ’19, Sales Intern, Sprint Business
This summer, Anderson (Park Ridge, Illinois) experienced the ins and outs of the sales process as an intern with Sprint, one of the nation’s largest internet and wireless providers. She took on multiple responsibilities, from coordinating and running meetings to contacting businesses about Sprint’s services. Anderson, a finance major, has also made an Illinois Wesleyan connection with Logan Kent ’13, who worked with Anderson’s team of interns as a Solutions Engineer.

Based on her positive experiences with the company, Anderson hopes to land a full-time position with Sprint’s sales division after graduation.

“Discovering if sales is something I want to do as a career was ultimately my goal this summer, so I am fortunate that I have figured that out going into my senior year,” said Anderson. “I was given the chance to be extremely involved in everything my team did, and that really helped me gain an understanding for the company as a whole and also learn more about other industries in the Chicagoland area by working with a wide variety of them every day.”


Emma Darragh
Emma Darragh with the River Cats' mascot.

Emma Darragh ’20, “Cat Crew” Intern, Sacramento River Cats
As an avid baseball fan throughout her childhood, marketing major Emma Darragh (Granite Bay, California) took the initiative to search for summer positions at the minor league baseball team near her hometown. As a member of the “Cat Crew,” Darragh worked as part of the on-field promotional team. In addition to handing out programs and selling raffle tickets, Darragh was responsible for coordinating first pitches and the national anthem before the game, as well as engaging crowds of fans in various activities between each inning.

“I gained knowledge about approaching people who I did not know and how to talk to them appropriately, as well as time management,” Darragh explained. As a result of her positive experience with the River Cats, Darragh is now researching more avenues into the sports marketing industry, where she hopes to incorporate her excitement for the game into a career.


Ryan Ozelie ’19, Software Engineering Intern, UTC Aerospace Systems

Ryan Ozelie at UTC Aerospace Systems
Ryan Ozelie (back row, second from the left) with fellow UTC interns.

At UTC Aerospace Systems, one of the world’s largest suppliers of aerospace and defense products, Ozelie (Sayner, Wisconsin) applied his skills as a computer science major to work alongside manufacturing engineers. He was tasked with developing custom SAP scripts and a dashboard to monitor the efficiency of operators at the plant located in Vergennes, Vermont.

“I have learned a lot about the manufacturing process and the software development lifecycle,” said Ozelie, who aspires to be a software engineer. “Specifically, I've been able to see how manufacturing engineers help the manufacturing process run smoothly and how to create robust software applications from the design stage to a fully functioning, tested application.”


Olivia Sarkis ’19, Scenic Artist Intern, Colorado Shakespeare Festival

Olivia Sarkis
Olivia Sarkis stands on stage at the Colorado Shakespeare Festival.

During her internship at the Colorado Shakespeare Festival, Sarkis (Racine, Wisconsin) helped paint, carve and decorate the sets of four theatrical productions over the summer, an experience which gave her the chance to develop her skills as a theatre arts, design and technology major.

“Through this internship, I’ve made many meaningful connections and gained knowledge on different techniques, approaches, and detail work on various forms of scenic painting,” said Sarkis. “It was great to make some awesome theatre in such a beautiful place.”

After completing her education, Sarkis plans to work as a scenic designer or scenic painter, and her internship provided a window into how those roles work in unison. “As a scenic designer, you need to understand what you’re asking of your painters and how things like color theory, texture and composition work together to complete the bigger picture,” Sarkis explained. “This internship has given me greater insight into how these relationships work.”


Ellen Stumph ’19, Research Assistant, Comparative Cognition and Social Cognitive Development (SCD) Labs at Yale University

Ellen Stumph
Ellen Stumph and a "dog scientist" sit in the Canine Cognition Center at Yale University.

Biology major Ellen Stumph (Arlington Heights, Illinois) conducted research into the origins of human social cognition as part of a Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program at Yale University. Stumph led studies in the Canine Cognition Center (CCC) of the Comparative Cognition Laboratory with the help of the lab’s “dog scientists.” By having the dogs interact with treats, toys and robots, Stumph worked to discern how human language cues can affect their ability to to individuate different objects.

When she was not studying “dog scientists,” Stumph found herself in the SCD Lab with “child scientists” who played games and listened to stories, allowing Stumph to determine the origins of human friendships and how children perceive individuals with unique skills. Throughout her research projects in both labs, she worked to develop a methodology, run participants, analyze data and write manuscripts.

As a biology student who plans to pursue a Ph.D. in studying comparative cognition and the origins of social behaviors, Stumph considers her internship to be an invaluable experience. “I have been lucky to work directly under some of the best minds in comparative and developmental psychology,” said Stumph. “The best thing that has come out of this research experience is the validation it has given me for my love of science, psychology and comparative cognition.”


According to the Hart Career Center’s Class of 2017 First-Destination Survey results, 71 percent of the Class of 2017 respondents participated in at least one internship during their time at Illinois Wesleyan, and 46 percent of those reporting internships, reported completion of multiple internships. According to the same survey, 92 percent of the Class of 2017 was employed or in graduate school within six months of graduation.

By Rachel McCarthy ’21