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Sept. 26, 2013
By Kari Sierks, media relations assistant
Each trimester Northwest Missouri State University students work hard to gain experience in their major fields of study and benefit after graduation. Much of that experience is gained through internships that allow student to apply learned skills and profit from their knowledge in a unique way.
More than half of Northwest students participate in internships according to the most recent Northwest Academic Year Placement Report. In recent months, Northwest students have participated in a variety of internships including positions at zoos, television news stations, advertising agencies, golf courses and legislative offices.
“Northwest students want to gain hands-on experience,” said Rosalie Weathermon, internships coordinator in Career Services. “Internships are a time for valuable classroom experience and learned skill sets to be tied together.”
Northwest students annually enter photos and brief descriptions of their internship experiences to the annual Career Services Internship Photo Contest for a chance to win a $100 award. The contest is open to all students participating in internships, practicums, field experiences or directed teaching experiences in fall 2012, spring 2013 and summer 2013, and new winners are selected each trimester.
Megan Whitman, a senior psychology major from Kansas City, Kan., was chosen as the summer contest’s winner for a photo of her in front of the Sydney Opera House during her internship in Sydney, Australia.
Six stories appear below about Northwest students who enjoyed unique experiences with internships throughout the world. To view all of the submitted internship photos click here.
Megan Whitman, a psychology major, spent 11 weeks in Australia working on the Autism research team at the Brain and Mind Research Institute (BMRI) at the University of Sydney. At BMRI she observed and worked on research notes during group therapy sessions as well as individual sessions with clients.
Whitman applied for the internship through GlobaLinks, an agency that helps students find internships or study abroad programs. She met with GlobaLinks at a study abroad fair at Northwest. During her internship, Whitman applied skills she learned at Northwest in numerous ways.
“I was able to take concepts I’ve learned from class and put them into real world experience with real people,” Whitman said.
The BMRI internship helped Whitman confirm she is on the right track. She studied individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and was intensely involved with the day-to-day studies at BMRI.
When Whitman was not working on clinical sessions, she was working on a meta-analysis exploring the divorce rate among parents of children with autism. She said she also gained an immense amount of research experience at BMRI.
“My internship helped shape my future plans in the psychology field, and I got the most I could possibly get out of this internship,” Whitman said.
Haylee Barros, a sophomore elementary education major from Kansas City, traveled to Mole St. Nicholas, Haiti, during the summer to work as an intern with the Northwest Haiti Christian Mission.
During the two months of her experience, Barros was responsible for leading teams of visiting Americans and introducing them to Haitian life. She also worked with other interns to prepare, plan and teach Sunday school at a church every week.
Barros had previously traveled to Mole St. Nicholas twice with Northwest Haiti Christian Mission. During her second trip she knew she was meant to go back and serve longer, so she applied for the internship.
“On my second trip especially, my heart was deeply touched,” Barros said. “I felt that I gave everything I had every day, but it still wasn’t enough.”
Throughout her two-month internship, Barros gained hands-on experience working with children in Haiti. She said Northwest also helped prepare her with life skills she applied during her summer internship, including how to live with a roommate and juggling tasks and obligations.
“I now know for sure that I want to be a teacher in Haiti and educate the children who normally would not have the chance to go to school,” Barros said.
In spring 2013, Kelsey Dougherty landed an animal care internship at Fossil Rim Wildlife Center in Glen Rose, Texas. Dougherty, a senior wildlife ecology and conservation major from Independence, said interning at Fossil Rim helped her confirm animal care is the right field for her.
During her three-month internship, Dougherty was responsible for the daily care of 11 species of animals in the Children’s Animal Center. She provided care and enrichment for the animals while assisting visitors with questions and occasionally leading school field trips.
Dougherty researched internship opportunities around the country and interviewed with two other possibilities before choosing Fossil Rim Wildlife Center in Texas.
“Fossil Rim Wildlife Center provided me with the starting point I need for future opportunities,” Dougherty said. “They really focus on getting interns as much experience as possible in just a few months.”
Dougherty said Northwest’s Department of Natural Sciences provided hands-on exercises that helped her become more confident during her internship experience.
“Northwest as a whole has helped me develop social skills and made interacting and educating with the public a lot easier, which is also an important aspect of the wildlife field,” Dougherty said.
Lluis Altimires Ros, a senior majoring in marketing and management from Terrassa, Spain, traveled home for only six days, then headed to his summer internship with EmpleoUK in London for two months, working as a marketing and sales representative.
EmpleoUK is the first UK Job Board of Spanish speakers. It provides professional advice to potential job candidates in the United Kingdom.
Throughout the summer, Altimires Ros’ found potential clients for the company by calling and visiting candidates and helping them understand the services EmpleoUK offers. He also helped with EmpleoUK courses and workshops to help candidates’ job searches be more effective.
Altimires Ros said he could provide the help candidates needed because of specific knowledge gained from classes at Northwest, including managerial communication and consumer behavior. The courses helped him prepare for the internship by teaching him skills he needed to interact with candidates and learn their behaviors.
The internship also taught Altimires Ros valuable life lessons such as how to interact with clients and other employees from different cultures daily. Altimires Ros also learned that patience is an essential skill in this job field.
“Everyone needs a little bit of sales experience in life because talking and dealing with different types of customers every day gives you an idea of how the whole world works,” Altimires Ros said.
Chase McCutcheon, a senior recreation and parks management major with a minor in horticulture from Kansas City, obtained a field experience on the Black Hills Central Railroad (BHC) in Hill City, S.D.
During this time, McCutcheon worked as a brakeman, fireman and mechanic on the railroad, running and operating vintage steam locomotives. His days consisted of running steam locomotives and helping passengers travel on the BHC vintage steam railroad through the heart of the Black Hills National Forest.
As a brakeman, McCutcheon rode the train and assisted its conductor by setting hand brakes, boarding passengers and maintaining safe and efficient train operations. Working as a fireman, he sat in the cab of the engine and maintained water, steam pressure and fuel levels while sustaining the engine’s fire. When McCutcheon was working as a mechanic he cleaned, repaired and maintained steam locomotives and diesel and passenger cars.
McCutcheon said his role as a fireman was the most demanding because he was required to do so many jobs at once, serving as a second set of eyes for the engineer while make sure that everything worked properly inside the engine.
McCutcheon pursued the field experience because of his family’s involvement with the railroad industry.
“I sought a way to incorporate my degree of recreation with my family’s history, and I found it in the tourist railroading business,” McCutcheon said.
After completing his degrees at Northwest, McCutcheon will be returning to the tourist railroad business for a final internship, and he hopes to work his way into a full-time position.
Laurel Holmquist, a senior business management and marketing major from Lincoln, Neb., had the opportunity to intern with State Farm Insurance at the Heartland Zone Operations Center as a claims associate in State Farm’s Catastrophe Call Center.
In May, Holmquist traveled with State Farm to Moore, Okla., after devastating tornadoes hit that region. In Moore, she helped customers file claims when they had no way to reach their agent or file online. During her time in Moore, Holmquist saw a disaster’s aftermath firsthand. She provided help to people who were left with nothing from the tornado.
“I saw a whole different side of State Farm when I was in Moore,” Holmquist said. “Coming back, I had so much more pride in my job because I directly saw the difference the company and I made in multiple customers’ lives.”
While in Moore, Holmquist saw an immense amount of damage. Many houses had only one wall standing and she often saw people going through piles of damage to salvage anything. Some of the neighborhoods Holmquist witnessed were destroyed, and others had only a few houses that had been hit.
“It honestly looked like a war zone, and I couldn’t imagine the time it would take to start rebuilding the area,” Holmquist said.
Throughout her internship, Holmquist said, she learned to have a positive outlook. She met with people who were affected directly by disasters and she realized the positive impact she could have on those people.
Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager
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