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Internships Benefit Students & Communities

This past summer, nearly 80 Berea College students ventured out into the 'Real World' as student interns.

Katy Mclean Maney (‘05) completed her internship at Flying High Designs in Berea.

As director of the Office of Internships, Dr. Katrina Rivers-Thompson helped place interns from Berea to Belgrade and from California to Washington, D.C. where they earned credits in more than 20 academic areas while making significant contributions to their host organizations. Students worked in both for-profit and non-profit businesses in various fields including accounting, marine biology, theatre management, real estate, legal aid, entrepreneurship and banking among others. The internship program is a bridge between the need for technical assistance in organizations and the opportunity for undergrads to use their skills and knowledge to address problems and gain a unique perspective on potential career opportunities.

Junior Aric Payne’s internship at the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga provided the Biology major with exciting hands-on experiences. While interning at the Aquarium, I was given the opportunity to work with every exhibit that the aquarists are responsible for. Much time and effort must go into taking care of these exhibits, for they are home to over 12,000 different species of mammals, birds, fish, reptiles, amphibians and cephalopods. The aquarists have a daily routine in which animals are fed, tanks are cleaned, water quality is checked, and filters are changed.

My internship was a remarkable learning experience. The Tennessee Aquarium was a place for me to learn what I should and should not do in a career. I was able to seek help from my co-workers when I needed it, and on a few occasions, they were able to learn a few things from me. I am thankful that I could participate in an internship, especially at a prestigious facility. My experience this summer has informed me of not only what I want to do, but also what I need to do to pursue a successful career in marine biology.

Biology major Rachael Lynch ’07 worked for the Appalachian Animal Hospital in Ellijay, GA. “I assisted the doctors in the exam rooms and radiology department and helped monitor patients before, during and after surgery. The experience was wonderful and it really helped me decide that veterinary medicine was definitely (the field) that I wanted to continue working in.”

The Economics and Business Department has coordinated a formal internship program since 1989 and has become one of the most active departments on campus for internships. The Economics and Business Department got involved for two primary reasons. Professor Ed McCormack said, “First, we recognized the need for our students to have an opportunity to have a faculty-guided but real world experience in the field of business. We felt this was a valuable tool to bridge the gap between the undergraduate experience and professional life. Secondly, we wanted, wherever possible, to provide professional work experiences for our students in a small profit seeking, nonprofit or governmental organization in the Appalachian region. I know of several students doing very important work in our region who are alumni of this program.”

Muzi Ginindza ’07, an Economics major, worked for Southern Financial Partners (SFP) in Helena, AR, an agency that aids business investments in the impoverished Mississippi Delta region and partners with such organizations as the Arkansas Delta Rural Development Network to channel funds from state to rural health centers. In an effort to revitalize the downtown area, SFP is offering loans to local small businesses whose poor credit reports and lack of collateral make them ineligible for traditional bank loans. Muzi said, “I was exposed to a different side of the American dream. I used to think that American poverty was probably the equivalent of Swaziland middle class, but I learned I was wrong. There is great need in many areas of this country.”

Business major Ilyas Assanov ’07, interned with the Dorchester Bay Economic Development Corporation (DBEDC) in the largest, most diverse neighborhood in Boston. DBEDC offers micro-financing for small businesses that do not qualify for loans from traditional lending institutions and provides pre- and post-loan technical assistance. Ilyas interviewed clients and, based on their needs, prepared loan packages which were reviewed by a loan committee. Ilyas also helped clients develop business plans and assisted with the implementation of accounting software.

Berea College students in Entrepreneurship for the Public Good (EPG) complete an internship as the second part of EPG’s two-summer program. The EPG internship program allows EPG Fellows to apply what they learned during the previous summer while serving as interns. The goal of the program is to create value for the host organization/community while deepening a student’s understanding of and confidence with the principles of entrepreneurship and leadership.

Theatre major Morgan Younge,’06 spent the summer in Louisville working for an African American theatre to complete her Entrepreneurship for the Public Good (EPG) intern requirement. “I enjoyed seeing the knowledge learned here at Berea College put into a real life experience. Juneteenth Legacy Theatre really helped me understand the struggles a small nonprofit theatre has to go through. Team work is very important and everyone has to be committed to the work”

December graduate-elect Katy Mclean Maney ‘05 was an intern at Flying High Designs in Berea, a design and marketing firm whose mission is to “help fuel imagination and nurture creative genius.” Katy assisted Flying High’s owner, Sara Thilman, in preparing storyboards for Berea artisans by researching city history, attending photo shoots and interviewing artisans. “The office works with a lot of nonprofit organizations, and interacting with them as a for-profit business was intriguing, something that I wanted to be involved with.” As an added bonus, Katy was asked to take a permanent position with the firm after graduation.

Another active source of internship opportunities occurs through a partnership with Shepherd Poverty Alliance (SPA) at Washington & Lee University. According to Kelly Stewart Nichols, Service-learning Coordinator for the Shepherd Program on Poverty and Human Capability internships “help students understand how their roles as paid workers and citizens can make a positive difference for impoverished persons and communities.”

Sophomore Amber Meadows, a Psychology major and SPA intern said, “This summer I was a program assistant at N Street Village of Washington, D.C. I aided and built relationships with mentally ill and addicted women. I absolutely loved my internship and would enjoy pursuing a similar occupation in my future. It was an opportunity that was enlightening and one that would be wonderful for people looking to experience a life outside of the ordinary.”

Working for the Commonwealth of Kentucky Department of Public Advocacy in London, KY was an eye-opening experience for Political Science and Black Studies Major Jamal Williams, ’06. Jamal worked on case discoveries, interviewed inmates and assisted with a capital case. Experiencing actual court procedures from the Public Defender’s viewpoint gave him a new perspective on what being a lawyer is really all about. “It’s not about the money to me anymore. It’s more about helping people who are in trouble and don’t have the financial means to get legal assistance.”

Looking for a Real World experience? Internships offer that and much more. For more information, talk to your advisor or contact Dr. Katrina Rivers-Thompson at the Office of Internships, ext. 3519.

*This article was authored by Esther White.

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