Sept. 20, 2011
Northwest students seize opportunities through internships
By Brittany Keithley, media relations assistant
Abby Nease's photo submission, above, was selected as the winner of this year's internship photo contest sponsored by the Office of Career Services. To view more of this year's photo submissions, as well as photos from previous years, click here.
From volunteering for Alternative Spring Break, to representing the University as a student ambassador to organizing speakers as lecture chair for Student Activities Council, Angela Wasko has taken advantage of every opportunity she's met at Northwest. As SAC lecture chair she brought TOMS Shoes founder Blake Mycoskie to Northwest last spring. She developed a rapport with him that eventually led to her landing a summer internship at TOMS Shoes in Santa Monica, Calif.
A senior public relations major from Pocahontas, Iowa, Wasko said she was honored to work with a company with such a strong mission. At TOMS, Wasko worked with interns from Cornell University, DePauw University and the University of California-Berkeley.
"The world is such a big place and there are so many incredible people that are doing incredible things everywhere," she said. "It doesn't really matter where you come from, if you come from a small town or a large city, as long as you have drive and a strong work ethic you can go wherever your dreams want you to go."
Moving to California and stepping out of her comfort zone, Wasko adapted to TOMS Shoes' unique energy fueled, by a compelling inspiration.
"I never got coffee, and I never made a copy," Wasko said. "Literally, you are an employee, and their company is growing so fast that they have so much to do. So you literally jump in and start running. You get your hands wet, you get your feet wet, and they really want you to learn how the company runs."
Beyond preaching the "One for One Movement" that TOMS Shoes is built upon, Wasko developed different strategies to promote the shoes, including organizing events and working with public relations firms to give TOMS products to celebrities to wear.
"I was an online merchandising intern so I worked to promote the fall 2011 line," Wasko said. "Each shoe has a story to tell, and I would work with our online merchandising manager to create what shoe we would promote when, where and how to make sure all channels were communicating the same message."
Wasko was far from the only Northwest student seeking opportunity when she left campus for the summer. Abby Nease flew all the way to South Africa in search of a unique experience a classroom couldn't offer.
"Northwest helped me with the information, but the internship helped me gain hands-on experience that not a lot of people will have," Nease said. "I think it will give me an edge to the competition."
A senior biology major from Kansas City, Mo., Nease hoped to confirm her love for marine life by working for Oceans Research, tracking and baiting great white sharks.
"It taught me that I really want to (work in marine biology)," she said. "I was hoping to figure out: Do I really want to do this, or is it just cool? I even enjoy the grunt work like cutting up fish or putting stuff into the computer, so it makes me more motivated to go on."
During her internship, Nease worked on a boat, assisting graduate students with research. She took an active role participating in and assisting with aquarium work, doing different experiments and even had opportunities to swim with sharks.
"It is really good to ask questions, and if you're interested, show you are interested because they (supervisors) are not going to know," Nease said. "If you put yourself in there and show that you want to learn, then people are willing to help you."
Though hands-on experience can be a key factor in selecting an internship, Chance Long, a junior political science major from Lee's Summit, took a different approach. She traveled to Israel to gain a new perspective on a 2,000 year-old conflict.
Selected by the Anti-Defamation League, an organization that strives to cease the defamation of Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment to all citizens, Long was among 17 students who traveled to Israel for a seven-day trip that promoted world peace and anti-hate. Long hopes to join the Peace Corps after she graduates from Northwest.
"One of the biggest lessons I walked away with was that no argument is one-sided because we saw every walk of life in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict," she said.
Emily Krickle, a senior from Lee's Summit, interned for the television show "American Outdoorsman." With a major in applied advertising and interest in broadcasting, Krickle hoped to work with both specialties to enhance her experience.
"I got the opportunity to work with web and I managed their web site for a while," she said. "I also got the opportunity to be on a commercial shoot, so I got the broadcasting side of it. I dealt with a lot of their television affiliates that they send their shows to, so I got a taste in all different areas. ... It has given me a better chance at getting a job because I have more than one specific specialty."
Other Northwest students chose to stay closer to the Midwest for their summer internships. Seniors Robert Langenfield and Donald Porter both completed internships in Kansas City at Cerner Corporation, the largest provider of electronic medical systems in the United States. Throughout the year, more than 50 percent of Northwest students participate in internships at companies like AT&T, VML, Energizer, the Kansas City Chiefs and the Make-A-Wish Foundation, according to Northwest's Office of Career Services.
Throughout all of their experiences, Northwest students reaffirmed their career choices while applying the support and instruction they received at Northwest.
For more information, please contact:
Mark Hornickel, Media Relations Specialist
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