As the spring semester ends, many Meredith College science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) students are preparing for summer internships.
There are a wide variety of summer internships available to STEM students. In previous years, Meredith students have landed internships with healthcare clinics, hospitals, telecommunication and television networks, federally and locally funded research projects, and multinational technology and finance companies.
Karthik Aghoram, professor of biological sciences, makes it a point to encourage his students to pursue as many internship opportunities as possible.
“It’s very important for students to get real life experiences while they’re still in college that they can then carry with them to a job interview,” said Aghoram. “It’s important for them to understand the career they want to be in, what it takes to be in it, and to establish a track record of service.”
The value of internships
Allison Kvasnicka, ’20, and Nabiha Khan, ’20, both said their internships last summer were suggested to them by faculty members.
Kvasnicka interned with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on a microbiome project about zebrafish. She says working on the project has helped her grow and find her passion for research.
“I’ve learned to expand my mindset,” said Kvasnicka. “When I came to Meredith I was interested in genetic counseling, and now I’m not as sure as much anymore because I’ve fallen in love with research.”
Khan participated in the Duke Ambassadors Program and interned in the emergency department of Duke Regional Hospital. Being in that environment has helped her narrow down her career options for the future.
“I got to shadow doctors and see some really chaotic stuff,” Khan said. “It helped me realize that I want a fast-paced career and something that has to do with internal medicine.”
How to land an internship
Meredith STEM students can often land summer internships through clubs and organizations. Katelyn Espenship, ’18, is the president of the Meredith Health Professions Society (MHPS), a student-led organization that promotes the professional development of students who are pursuing careers in healthcare. She says MHPS provides information to its members and establishes partnerships with companies in the Triangle. Some of the companies they partner with include Wake Smiles and NC Missions of Mercy, which are dental clinics that serve low-income individuals.
“We share volunteer, shadowing, and internship opportunities that we have found,” Espenship said. “We encourage students to talk to members and board members about their experiences in past internships.”
For students who would like to apply for summer internships, starting early is key. “Start in September or August of the year before,” said Aghoram. “The process of planning to get an internship prepares you for doing the same thing for jobs later.”
Kvasnicka also states that establishing a network is helpful. “Make as many connections and network as much as you can,” she said.
Internships lead to results
Kvasnicka will continue her research with the EPA in a paid position this summer. She is looking forward to presenting her work at local conferences and gathering more data for her project.
Khan is also continuing to work with the Duke Ambassadors Program. This summer, she will be the chief ambassador for the emergency department of Duke Regional Hospital. In addition to her previous responsibilities in the program, Khan will oversee other ambassadors and provide extra support for them.
“Apply to every single opportunity you see, whether you’re interested in it or not, because you never know what it might become,” said Khan. “I can’t know what field I want to go into until I’m actually there, but I’ve learned what I don’t like, and I think that’s just as important as what you do like.”