BLOOMINGTON, Ill. –– Illinois Wesleyan University students continued to participate
in internships throughout the summer, although many experiences were modified amid
the COVID-19 pandemic.
Students seeking future internship and career opportunities are invited to participate
in the Hart Career Center’s Virtual Career Fair on Monday, Sept. 28 from 4 to 7 p.m.
This event will connect candidates with employers and organizations that are recruiting
for pre-professional, professional and educational opportunities. These include: internships,
volunteer experiences, graduate and professional school opportunities, and part-time
and full-time jobs.
A virtual career fair is unique from an in-person fair because there is no waiting
in lines. Instead, students will plan their day in advance when they register for the fair through the Handshake platform. When registering on Handshake, students can sign up for group video sessions, as
well as one-on-one meetings with companies that are hiring. Illinois Wesleyan students
of all years and majors are welcome to participate. Students can prepare for the Career
Fair by viewing a series of videos published by the Hart Career Center.
The following is a sampling of student internship experiences from the summer, based
on responses to the Hart Career Center and the Office of Communications:
Abraham was an Advisor Development Summer Analyst Intern with Bank of America. While
Abraham had not planned to work from home, due to COVID-19, the internship was conducted
remotely. The internship included working with executive leaders, conducting group
projects, and learning about the roles of a financial advisor.
“This internship has given me more insight on the financial services world in consumer
investments,” explained Abraham. “This internship also showed me that, through technology,
it is still possible to work from home and have a meaningful experience.”
Jessica Flores ’22 Major: Business Hometown: Chicago, Illinois
Flores was a summer intern with the Boys & Girls Club of Bloomington-Normal and the
Town of Normal as a part of the 2020 Summer Enrichment Program (SEP) organized by
the IWU Office of Diversity and Inclusion. Flores carried out her internships virtually
from home amid the COVID-19 pandemic. At the Boys & Girls Club of Bloomington-Normal,
Flores was responsible for contacting alumni to update their information and encourage
them to stay involved with the club. She also developed a virtual club experience
by creating and editing videos that showcased the activities and resources available
to club members participating from their homes. Flores also had the opportunity to
work on research-based projects at the Boys & Girls Club. She researched opportunities
to connect with alumni, re-engage high schoolers, and identify resources that could
benefit the club’s current and future expansion efforts.
Through her internship with the Town of Normal, Flores helped with the community gardens
by contacting gardeners to hear their stories and feedback so that she could help
the town identify what aspects of the program are working and what could be improved.
Flores also helped the Town of Normal research art programs implemented in urban areas
and compare those to similar programs in suburban areas. Finally, to assist with the
Bike Light program, Flores researched pre-existing bike light programs and brainstormed
ways to expand the program in Normal and create community partnerships.
“In terms of advice to others I would say to take your internship seriously and it
will be a very rewarding experience,” Flores advised. “I am very appreciative of the
knowledge gained, the skills learned, and the connections made both through my internships
and through being a cohort member.”
Gaines worked remotely as an Underwriting Analyst Intern with American International
Group (AIG) in Chicago. Through the internship, Gaines was partnered with Lexington
Insurance, working as a Wholesale Commercial Property Underwriting Analyst.
“I learned how to underwrite insurance for commercial properties in different parts
of the U.S. I collaborated on a couple of accounts, one worth over $800 million with
my group of interns and my mentor,” Gaines explained. “What I gained most from my
internship was the skill set I needed to work effectively in a team setting in the
insurance industry, with the development of personal and professional connections,
and the tools necessary to achieve higher heights in the insurance and real estate
Moises Garcia ’21 Majors: Business and Music Hometown: Joliet, Illinois
Garcia was a virtual intern with Driving Forward. Through this internship, Moises
analyzed the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and
the Arts and Entertainment Industry. He presented creative and innovative solutions
to reduce the negative impact of the pandemic. Moises and his team were named the
best overall case study presentation. Three other IWU students also interned with
Peyton Howe ’21 Major: Business Administration Minor: Advocacy with a concentration in Law Hometown: Bloomington, Illinois
Howe was a summer legal intern with Mueller, Reece & Hinch, LLC, a civil general practice
law firm located in Bloomington, Illinois. Howe gained experience in the legal field
while also helping with tasks around the office.
“This internship gave me a lot of insight on how an office job works. It is extremely
different trying to transition to an 8-hour work day from a college schedule. I'm
grateful I was able to figure out what I should look for in an employer and what I
should avoid. I also learned very simple things like, how to communicate better over
the phone with clients and with my coworkers. Transparency is very essential in an
office, it's important to make sure everyone is on the same page,” Howe reflected.
“Overall, I learned things that I otherwise wouldn't have from a classroom. Experience
is essential in figuring out the little things in what makes an office function and
the tasks that are accompanied with it.”
Kiper '22 worked as a Medicinal Chemistry Intern with AbbVie Pharmaceutical Company,
Drugs for Neglected Disease Initiative (DNDi), and the Franciscan Institute for World
Health (FIWH). Through this internship, Kiper gained experience planning experiments
based on cost and bioavailability. He synthetically planned, designed, and optimized
a novel compound into the AbbVie library repository; learned to use, document, and
finalize all of this work within a chemistry RSpace electronic notebook; and learned
some of the basics of medicinal chemistry, neglected disease research, and the overall
drug discovery process in the pharmaceutical industry. In addition to the neglected
disease work, Kiper was one of four interns designing noncovalent inhibitors of the
main protease of COVID-19.
“I gained experience communicating professionally with other scientists, applying
what I know to complex problems, and understanding when it is time to ask for help
understanding. Internships help you gain experience working in a particular field,”
Kiper explained. “I am blessed to have had the opportunity to continue my internship
in a different modality. Although virtual, I learned how to adjust my mode of working
and learning. It required self-motivation and focus, two skills that are valuable
Kiper felt prepared for this internship thanks to Illinois Wesleyan’s organic chemistry
courses and research opportunities, as well as the Hart Career Center’s help in providing
feedback on his resume and reviewing his applications.
“By seizing these opportunities, I was able to gain insight into what I enjoy and
what I do not enjoy in my particular field. It helped me to affirm that I am going
down the correct career path,” added Kiper.
Kelly Kitahata ’22 Majors: Business and Sociology Hometown: Lombard, Illinois
Kitahata worked as a remote Quality Improvement Intern with Marcfirst and a Planning
Intern with the Town of Normal as a part of the 2020 Summer Enrichment Program (SEP).
At Marcfirst, she worked with the Quality Improvement team to primarily create a training
presentation of Outlook for current and new employees, while working on several additional
projects throughout the summer. As a Planning Intern with the Town of Normal, Kitahata
primarily utilized the town’s GIS system to map out properties alongside Constitution
Trail. She also completed additional research projects, looking into things like Housing
“I am so grateful to my mentors as we navigated this incredibly strange summer,” Kitahata
said. “The fact that it was a remote internship was incredibly valuable because I
was able to learn how to connect with people completely online, which has serviced
me more than anything else during this unorthodox school year.”
Yushan Liu ’21 Major: Biology Hometown: Xian, China
Over the summer, Liu conducted research as a 2020 Summer Enrichment Program (SEP)
intern with Assistant Professor of Biology Tyler Schwend. While this experience was
originally scheduled to take place in the lab, the COVID-19 pandemic required her
work to be done remotely. Liu conducted literary research and helped write research
proposals from home.
“What’s interesting about this internship is that I got to meet a group of fantastic
people who are supportive, nice and kind,” Liu reflected. “We had a lot of deep conversations
with each other. I appreciate all the vulnerability that everyone shared to each other.”
Lopez worked as a Software Engineering Intern with Facebook. He was placed with the
WhatsApp iOS Core Infrastructure team and worked on optimizing several data pipelines
and creating systems to reduce data usage for WhatsApp users and the overall server
load. Furthermore, Lopez had the opportunity to participate in an internal hackathon
where he led a team of several engineers to work on racial justice tools for Facebook.
Their project won the prize in its category and will be included in one of the Facebook
“Luckily, I will be joining Facebook as a full-time software engineer next year,”
said Lopez. “In addition to that, I believe that my most important takeaway was being
exposed to a network of really smart and motivated people that are working in some
of the hardest problems in science.”
Sommer Martin ’21 Major: Anthropology Minor: Biology Hometown: Clarkesville, Georgia
Over the summer, Martin worked as an intern at the Northeast Georgia History Center
in Gainesville, Georgia. Her responsibilities included taking on the role of a museum
curator which included researching artifacts, collaborating with archives and collections
in creating an item catalog and deciding upon displayed items, writing and creating
new information panels for the exhibits, and reorganizing artifacts and supplementary
materials to create a more professional museum experience. Through Martin’s internship,
she gained valuable experience in performing proper research and writing the subsequent
research proposals for the Director and for museum grants, along with experience in
planning and organizing exhibits in accordance with grant requests and American Alliance
of Museums standards and practices. Though she is back on campus at IWU, she is continuing
her research and work virtually through the fall of 2020.
Quist worked remotely as a Search Engine Optimization & Search Engine Marketing Intern
with State Farm in Bloomington, Illinois. Quist’s main role was as a software developer,
and he spent most of his time writing python code to manage over 6,000 web pages worth
of content. Quist also helped in an enterprise-wide page speed effort, which aimed
to make StateFarm.com load faster for visitors to the site.
“This internship was awesome because it provided me with hands-on work experience
that is incredibly valuable. I can actually point to work that I have completed that
is available on a popular website and say that I was entirely responsible for it,
which gives me an advantage in future job interviews,” Quist remarked. “Additionally
I was able to learn how to apply classroom concepts to the real world. Overall it
was a great experience.”
Students who completed internships during the summer of 2020 who would like to be
included in this story are invited to email: email@example.com.