Wittenberg Students Explore Future Careers With Summer Internship Experiences
SPRINGFIELD, Ohio — Karell Pelle, Wittenberg University class of 2007, doesn’t have a typical summer job. She spends her days in a lab conducting research for East Coast Fever at The Institute for Genomic Research (TIGR) in Rockville, Md. Pelle, of Nairobi, Kenya, is among many Wittenberg students who are making the most of their summer “vacation.”
Pelle, a biology major, studies three genes of Theileria Parva, the causative agent of East Coast Fever. While in the lab she performs polymerase chain reactions (PCRs) for the parasite genomics department at TIGR. Pelle is the only international intern accepted as a summer fellow at the institute.
“The primary reason why I wanted to do this internship was to get experience in the field of science,” she said. “I saw this internship as an opportunity to figure out if continuing my studies and developing a career in research is the right path for me to take.”
Having access to some of the latest technology used in genome sequencing research has been one of the most rewarding aspects of the internship for Pelle. She also appreciates the opportunity to work with fellow researchers looking for ways to alleviate deadly diseases and poverty from around the globe.
Pelle said research for East Coast Fever, a tick-borne disease, will provide additional insight for cancer research.
A half-hour south of Pelle, another Wittenberg student is also gaining real-world experience as an intern in Washington, D.C.
Ashley Murphy, of Naples, Fla., class of 2006, is spending her days on Capitol Hill. She is a governmental relations intern for B&D Sagamore, a consulting law firm founded by Wittenberg alumnus David Gogol, class of 1973. The firm advises on issues of higher education and health care.
“I am contemplating attending law school so I thought this experience could really help with that decision,” said Murphy, a political science major.
Murphy was one of only two people chosen for the internship — the other intern is a graduate student. She said the opportunity was made possible in part through the guidance and support of Gerry Hudson, professor of political science and director of Wittenberg’s Washington Semester Program. The program sends students to Washington, D.C., to study and serve as an intern in the government or with an interest group.
“He played a tremendous role in getting me to D.C.,” Murphy said. “Dr. Hudson really stuck his neck out for me and was very supportive in planning for this internship.”
At B&D Sagamore, Murphy spends her days researching bills that affect clients, many of which are non-governmental organizations and pharmaceutical companies. She also attends congressional hearings for bills relevant to these clients.
Murphy hopes the experience will allow her to establish a network in D.C. She is interested in working for a liberal think tank in the future.
“I enjoy politics because it is something that affects you every day, even if you don’t realize it,” she said. “Maybe some day I will be one of the people helping to shape how politics affects the lives of Americans and the global community alike.”
While Murphy is experiencing life on Capitol Hill, Mark Preston, class of 2008, is getting a hands-on approach in corporate culture in the Big Apple.
Preston, also of Naples, Fla., is a CollegeCrew intern with JetBlue Airways, New York’s largest domestic airline. The CollegeCrew Program allows undergraduate and graduate students an opportunity to gain experience in their area of study while working with the airline’s Crewleaders. Of more than 3,000 applicants, he was one of 60 selected to intern with the company.
“Aviation has been in my blood since the day I was born,” he said. “My heart was really set on this internship.”
Preston’s dream is to establish and manage an airline company. He’s already certified to operate any single-engine, non-high performance land-based aircraft. At the age of 17, Preston earned his Private Pilot’s License (PPL) with an instrument rating, which allows him to fly in weather conditions that are less than ideal.
Though he has only been with JetBlue for a month and half, Preston said he has already gained valuable experience.
“I’ve learned more about airline economics in the past month than the past 10 years of my life,” he said.
Preston, a political science major, said he especially enjoys his internship because he is constantly interacting with people.
“I’m a communicator,” said Preston, the 2008 class president. “A lot of people think business is all about numbers and money, but it’s really all about the people. They’re the ones who really contribute to a company’s bottom line through passion and sacrifice.”
Scientific research, politics and management are not the only fields Wittenberg students are actively engaging in this summer. Rachel Dunn, class of 2007, is interning at ESPN Radio and Radio Disney in the marketing/promotions department in her hometown of Pittsburgh, Pa.
“ESPN and Disney are two of the most well-known companies in the world so an internship with them sounded appealing as well as exciting,” said Dunn, a communication major.
Dunn has encountered several famous people while interning including, John Elway, Dan Marino, Michael Jordan and John Daly. While she helps promote events for ESPN and Radio Disney, she is also afforded the opportunity to shadow account executives to learn the business and sales aspects of the station.
“The experience has been extremely rewarding because it’s experience you can’t learn in the classroom or out of the book,” Dunn said. “I feel a step ahead than I would have been entering my junior year without this opportunity.”
— Sarah Gearhart '06