Push the Envelope

Summer interns choose their own adventures, with powerful results.

You’re looking to learn more about a career and gain practical experience by becoming an intern. Do you apply for every available position online and wait to hear a response or do you research contacts, build connections and take action to find – or to build – your dream internship?

This summer, students across UMBC took action, seeking out faculty, staff, alumni and peers to find opportunities for experiential learning in Baltimore, around the country, and internationally.

“Be persistent,” said Joshua Dixon ’17, mechanical engineering, who worked as a research and development engineer for Power Transmission Solutions. “Find an opportunity in the area of what you want to do and be persistent.”

All that effort paid off. This summer’s interns found positions where they could gain hands-on experience and have a tangible impact on issues that matter to them. They conducted research in nationally recognized labs, made meaningful contributions to non-profit organizations and federal agencies, and worked for some of the world’s top corporations, including GE, Amazon and Delphi Automotive Systems in China.

“Find something that pushes your envelope all the way open, that you have a passion for, that’s a little unconventional, and then go do that,” advised Vanessa Barksdale ’17, social work, who interned as a caseworker for International Social Services.

Well-prepared and passionate, UMBC interns to stand out from the crowd. A 2014 National Association of Colleges and Employers report found that the number of internships held by college students was expected to decrease by 3.4 percent in 2014. However, UMBC’s internship, co-op and research placements have steadily increased, in large part due to student effort, faculty involvement and staff guidance.

Kerry Kidwell-Slak, associate director of internships and employment at the UMBC Career Center, explained, “Our goal is to empower students to explore the possibilities while developing their professional skills. We find that many of the students who are successful in acquiring summer internships do so by demonstrating initiative and making the most of the resources around them. These students talk with their friends, family and faculty members, log in to UMBCworks often, have active LinkedIn profiles and attend networking events on campus and elsewhere. Their drive sets them apart to employers.”

Are you ready to choose your own internship adventure? Here, a few 2014 summer interns who enrolled in the Career Center’s Internship, Co-op, and Research Practicum offer advice to get their fellow Retrievers started.