By Sasha Nyary
A 10-week internship at the New Century Theatre in nearby Northampton, Massachusetts, was perfect for Robyn Sutton-Fernandez FP’17, a theatre arts major at Mount Holyoke College.
“Professionally I want to be an actor,” Sutton-Fernandez said. “But I’m also interested in playwriting and directing, so it’s been a great experience to watch a production unfold from the director’s point of view.”
Jessica Taylor ’17 is a psychology major and a sociology minor. She landed an internship in Senator Elizabeth Warren’s office in Springfield, Massachusetts, where she developed her communication skills and built her knowledge about different industries, policies, and agencies.
“My internship with the senator will help me in everything I do,” Taylor said. “I have learned the difference in effectively communicating with constituents, with my boss and coworkers, and with the senator. These networking abilities cannot be understated.”
This summer, 134 students found internships in the Pioneer Valley in areas as diverse as agriculture, architecture, the arts, communications, computers and information systems, education, government, health and medicine, library and museums, marketing, scientific research, social justice, and social services.
They shadowed a surgeon and a dentist. They did scientific research in a variety of fields including astronomy, biology, biochemistry, computer science, math, neuroscience, and physics.
Opportunities abound at the Five College Consortium, including extraordinary research possibilities. Western Massachusetts also has a long tradition of theater, music, and fine and performing arts, in which several students participated. The Pioneer Valley’s agriculture is world-famous—three students worked with local farms or farming organizations. Nearby Springfield, the state’s third largest city, offers options such as Taylor’s internship with Senator Warren.
Helping every student find an internship in order to explore career interests, acquire practical experience, and start developing a professional network is an important goal of The Lynk, said Jenny Watermill, associate director of internships and student employment at the Career Development Center.
“Internships and research projects are an integral, essential part of a Mount Holyoke education,” Watermill said. “Many can be done right here on campus or in the area, and we work closely with students to find and support the right position.”
The College offers a $3,000 stipend through The Lynk for students to use for housing or other expenses during their internships.
“My Lynk funding really helped a lot,” said Sutton-Fernandez, who is applying to MFA programs this fall. She hopes to found her own production company run by women of color.
“This internship has shown me how professional theater companies run, how professional actors work,” she said. “I’ve seen how the scenic, costume, and lighting designers, and the director work together. Everyone has to collaborate. To be in production meetings and see from start to finish how it all plays out has been exciting.”
Taylor also received Lynk funding this summer. She found her position with Senator Warren through Handshake, the CDC’s resume, online job search, and recruiting system. A classmate who had the position the previous year helped her get in touch with the supervisor.
“I answered constituent phone calls, opened and sent mail, and filed paperwork and all correspondence in our database,” Taylor said. “I was often the first person to speak with constituents reaching out to our office in need of agency assistance. I offered them guidance in starting up their cases and prepared everything for our staff assistant and regional director to review.”
With just two staff members and one or two interns at a time, the office was smaller than the senator’s other branches, Taylor said. So she had lots of opportunity to work directly with the staff.
“The door was wide open for me to ask questions and directly communicate and connect with my coworkers,” she said. “That made for a valuable experience.”
What valuable experiences will you discover? Plan your visit.