Learn by Doing
Honors College student interns (from left) Brandon Oubre at NASA, Aimee Landry with the DAAD Program, and Grace Reinke with the Feminist Majority Foundation.
Becoming the leaders of tomorrow takes practice.
In order to better discern their career paths, many Honors students spend their summer interning at various companies and organizations. From Washington D.C. to Germany, students learn to hone their skills and gain experience for the future.
According to Director of Career Development Cindy Seghers, internships are important for a variety of reasons.
“Internships offer the opportunity to confirm, refine, and revise a career path,” said Seghers. “Confirm it by saying, ‘Yes, this is it, now that I've applied it I know that I could do this for a long, long time.’ Refining a career path is important because being able to refine your interests is good. Someone can do an internship in a broader area and say, ‘This was almost it, but not quite.’”
Perhaps the most important part of an internship between confirming and refining is revising.
“It's advantageous to know what you want to do and what you don't want to do as early as possible,” said Seghers. “And one benefit of an internship is to find out what fits and what doesn't.”
Honors College students are taking advantage of the opportunity to test their career goals in a variety of ways. Here are some of their stories.
Melanie Carroll – Getting Ready for Medical School
Physics major Melanie Carroll is interning with St. Jude Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee as a research assistant in their Radiation Oncology division. Her research project involves measuring distortion in MR images and quantifying its effects on radiation treatment planning in patients with brain tumors. As part of the Pediatric Oncology Education Program, she has also been given the opportunity to attend daily seminars, shadow doctors in different specialties, and volunteer with inpatients.
Carroll is applying to medical school with an interest in oncology, though she says her interests may change before residency.
“There are about 60 other interns in the same program as me, some of which are pre-med as well and some who have just finished their first year of medical school,” said Carroll. “It has been really helpful to talk with everyone also filling out applications and people who successfully made it through the process.”
For Carroll, seeking out advisors helped her make the decisions necessary for her future.
“I would definitely encourage Honors students to take advantage of meeting with advisors because their advice can really make a difference,” said Carroll.
Garrett Clawson – Learning about Community
LASAL Scholar and Political Science major Garrett Clawson is working in the Mayor’s office in Shreveport, Louisiana. The Mayor’s Internship program placed him with Sportran, Shreveport’s public transit system.
“I have gotten to know people of nearly every social class and every part of the city,” said Clawson. “I have been able to refine a plethora of skills, including my communication, computer, and organization skills.”
Part of his job requires him to ride the city buses to complete passenger counts, which Clawson shared was his favorite aspect of the internship.
“During this time, I got to discuss the city and its residents with bus drivers along several different routes as well as get direct input from riders, said Clawson. “The experience has deepened my resolve to enter public service and make a difference in local communities around the state and around the country.”
After completing his internship, Clawson will return to LSU to enter his sophomore year and learn more about public policy.
Andrea Gallo – Covering a Tornado
Mass Communications major Andrea Gallo is spending her summer working with the Dallas Morning News as an intern on the enterprise desk.
“So much of what I've learned is simply how to be a better writer, how to structure and organize and focus my stories, how to lead audiences in and out,” said Gallo. “It's much more specialized training than I've had before.”
Having worked on coverage for such stories as the Oklahoma tornado tragedy and the 50th anniversary of JFK’s assassination, Gallo says she eventually hopes to be writing for a news organization when she graduates.
Gallo says that such classes as Professor Bob Mann’s “See How They Run”, a seminar about presidential elections, have helped her in terms of finding and learning from writing mentors.
“The Honors College has helped me because of the classes that it's allowed me to take and the professors I've been able to work with because of it,” said Gallo.
Aimee Landry – Working in Germany
Biochemistry major Aimee Landry is spending the summer in Tubingen, Germany, working with the DAAD program (German Academic Exchange Service). Assisting a PhD student at the Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology, Landry spends her days studying a protein that is part of the pathway for neuronal migration.
“I've been expressing protein using E.coli, then purifying it in order to study it alone,” said Landry. “The end goal of the project is to determine the structure by X-ray crystallography.”
When Landry returns home, she hopes to pursue her Honors Thesis utilizing the research she learned, and to ultimately attend medical school at LSU New Orleans.
“The Honors College has given me an atmosphere where I feel comfortable and has provided challenges that I would not otherwise have found,” said Landry. “I could not imagine my time at LSU with the Honors College.”
Brandon Oubre – Communicating with Deep Space
Computer Science major Brandon Oubre is spending his summer interning with NASA. He has been working on ACAWS (Advanced Caution And Warning System), which monitors vehicle telemetry in order to diagnose anomalies, identify the root causes of problems, and find ways to fix those problems.
“The proposed use of ACAWS is to reduce mission control costs and to assist the crew on deep space manned missions, such as those to Mars, where communication speed is limited by the speed of light,” said Oubre.
His primary job on the project has been software development, largely with ACAW’s user interface.
“The most rewarding part of the internship has been committing my fixes and improvements to the official version of the product,” said Oubre. “Knowing that my work is officially in a system that will be used for further research into some exciting areas.
Upon graduation, Oubre plans to attend graduate school for a PhD in Computer Science.
Grace Reinke – In the Majority
LASAL Scholar and Political Science major Grace Reinke is interning in Washington D.C. with the Feminist Majority Foundation. Her various responsibilities include contributing to blogs for the foundation, writing news stories for the organization’s Daily Feminist Newswire, and working on projects with her fellow 12 interns.
“I've learned a lot about news writing, blogging, non-profit management, and overall government functionality,” said Reinke. “The most rewarding part of my internship has been working for a group that I have really looked up to for a long time. Work is much easier when you are working for something you actually feel passionately about.”
For Reinke, narrowing down her internship choices was difficult, but she found support with the Honors College.
“The Honors College has really emphasized the importance of internships since I've been a part of it, so it was great to have all that support when I was figuring out how to choose from and apply to all the millions of internships out there.”
When her internship ends, she plans to continue her campus involvement for the second half of her LSU career.
Emily Smith – The Happiest Place on Earth
Recent graduate and Business major Emily Smith is currently participating in a professional internship with Disney Club Vacation, located at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. Smith works as a Sales Assistant and is responsible for ensuring a smooth sales experience for guests interested in purchasing Vacation Club memberships.
“I am learning a lot about sales and Disney's methods of selling products to guests in a no-pressure atmosphere,” said Smith. “Above all, our guests' experiences are the most important thing to us and I work hard every day to preserve the Disney image and quality.”
While Smith is not certain what path she will pursue after her internship finishes, she knows that she would like to remain in the field of marketing and sales, with a focus on service.
Along with helpful advisors, Smith says the Honors College has given her the necessary boost to find the work experience she wants.
“The Honors College looks great on my resume and has been the source of a few conversation starters in interviews and career expos,” said Smith. “The Honors College has definitely provided me with the most outstanding and useful resources that can be found on LSU's campus.”
Story by Jacqueline DeRobertis, LSU Honors College
For more information, contact the Honors College at 225-578-8831