Students Embrace Summer Internships, Study Abroad
By Michelle Hiskey
Many Georgia State University students have been off campus this summer, building their academic records and resumes through internships and study abroad experiences.
For biology major Arrion Williams, 21, the summer has been a literal deep dive, at the U.S. Navy’s Marine Mammal Program at Naval Base Point Loma in southern California. The Honors College student is helping train dolphins and sea lions for security patrols.
“Ever since I was 6, my goal has been to become a marine mammal trainer,” said Williams, who interned at the Georgia Aquarium in the spring, helping with the care and training of beluga whales and harbor seals. “I have become more in tune with reading an animal’s behavior and determining how to train behaviors.”
In London, history major John Hill, 34, is interning at the Westminster City Council, representing the area that is home to Buckingham Palace and Westminster Abbey, where 1 million tourists pass through daily. Hill, also an Honors College student, is helping make a housing project safer by researching and budgeting a $16,000 plan that includes the installation of a small police station.
“This internship has shown me that I have the tools to thrive in government work and has allowed me to identify some strengths. I’ve really discovered that I’m very good at getting people to open up when they usually wouldn’t and share opinions and information.”
And at Chrysler headquarters just outside of Detroit, marketing major Ali Elkhalil, 19, is helping roll out the Ram ProMaster work truck. He is developing a national and regional database for commercial sales and organizing an exhibit on the truck for a national sales show.
“I aim to lead and represent a company on a global scale,” Elkhalil said. “I have a strong passion for international business and love interacting with different people from around the world. This is a real work experience I can apply throughout my career.”
The collective ambition of these three, who represent hundreds of Georgia State students working and studying this summer, is mirrored by a recent study by the National Association of Colleges and Employers. The association surveyed more than 38,000 members of the Class of 2013 and found that almost two-thirds took part in an internship or work-study assignment as undergraduates. “This represents the highest overall participation rate since we began tracking this with the Class of 2007,” said NACE executive director Marilyn Mackes.
Georgia State students are benefiting from internships in the growing film and video industry, in local businesses, and at startups in creative fields, said Colleen Perry, Georgia State’s co-op and internship coordinator. Unique summer positions included paid internships with the Greening Youth Foundation, which stations college students at national parks and historic sites.
“Summer internships allow students to immerse themselves in experiential learning, to see the results of a work project more quickly, and see themselves moving and growing faster in their careers,” Perry said.
Another mark of a global learner is study abroad. The number of Georgia State students studying outside the U.S. this summer — 525 by the most recent count — is down slightly because of rising costs, said Jeremy Scott Billetdeaux, the university’s director of study abroad programs. Last summer, a record 538 students studied abroad, up from 431 in summer 2011.
“Reduction in Pell Grant funding has definitely had an effect on summer study abroad participation,” Billetdeaux said. “I do believe that more and more Georgia State students will pursue study abroad programs in future terms and our summer enrollment numbers will rise.”
Here are some tips for students interested in summer challenges like these:
- Seek help early. “Plan ahead as far in advance as possible. Apply for as many scholarships as you can find,” Billetdeaux said. “If you want to go abroad, you will find a way, and we are here to assist.”
- Be aggressive and strategic. “Go to the websites and social media feeds of the companies that interest you,” Perry said. “Companies are posting openings to social media where the students who are really interested are already following them.”
- Be patient. “After a rigorous selection process, including multiple interviews and assignments, I was selected for the job,” Elkhalil said. “It certainly wasn’t simple.”
- Know that one opening can lead to another. In San Diego, “I was not expecting to have the opportunity to meet the father of marine mammal medicine, Dr. Sam Ridgway, who helped start the Navy program,” Williams said. “This internship is truly preparing me for the career I wish to have.”
A Summer Trip to Explore Harrowing Crimes of the Recent Past
Judith Kim, a print journalism and philosophy student at Georgia State, took a summer study abroad trip to Argentina to learn about the South American nation’s Dirty War.
The trip was led by Fernando Reati, a native of Argentina who teaches in the Department of Modern and Classical Languages, and co-director of the university’s Center for Human Rights and Democracy. For several years, he and psychology professor Gabe Kuperminc have taken Georgia State students to Argentina to study the history and ongoing effects of the government-sponsored effort to purge “subversive elements” from society. Up to 30,000 people are estimated to have “disappeared” between 1976 and 1981, including left-wing guerrillas, journalists, student activists, union members and others simply suspected of sympathizing with those who opposed the right-wing government of that era.
Kim chronicled her trip in the following photos.