If you love studying anatomy, how do you know whether your future lies in taxidermy or radiology? What if you can’t decide whether to join a Wall Street firm as a stockbroker or a New Jersey insurance company as an actuary? What do you tell your parents when they ask how you will support yourself with a degree in art history? More than one hundred Mount Holyoke students began the search for answers to questions like these by exploring careers during the College’s three-week January Term. They gained on-the-job experience in fields ranging from medicine and business to museum work and government.
It should come as no surprise that Mount Holyoke, an institution that counts among its alumnae this country’s first female secretary of labor (Frances Perkins, class of 1902) and its most recent (Elaine L. Chao ’75), has long made it a priority to engage students in the world of work. Mount Holyoke students have been benefiting from January internships for more than twenty-five years and from summer internships for more than fifty. The origins of the College’s state-of-the-art Career Development Center, through which January internships are coordinated, can be traced back to 1901. In this Vista, some of Mount Holyoke’s most recent January interns report from the field.
Farial Mahmud ’03
Then I got a call from Katherine S. Bartholomaus ’68, an associate at the firm, offering me the opportunity to work in the Money Markets Origination Unit within the company’s Fixed Income, Currency, and Commodities Division. As an economics major contemplating a career in finance, I could think of no better training ground.
The unit is involved in originating and monitoring the issuance of short-term debt securities, such as commercial paper. I worked with analysts on client presentations, issuers summaries, and trading-analysis reports for a variety of companies. I also got a sense of what different divisions of Goldman Sachs do by attending conference calls, meetings, and lunches.
The best part of my experience was the insight it gave me into how a large and prestigious investment bank operates. As Katherine Bartholomaus said to me, “You had the opportunity to explore a complex organization, not just the complex bond markets. How one division effectively interacts with so many others in a sophisticated, fast-moving environment is not easily learned in the classroom.”
Lisa Nonken ’03
Since I first visited Sturbridge Village at the age of four, I have wanted to work there. Now that I am working toward a combined major in studio art and art history with a minor in early American history, being a part of OSV excited me even more. Through this internship, I became better acquainted with early American art and antebellum racism in America and increased my understanding of the inner workings of a living history museum and careers in museum work.
Michelle Boudreau ’04
As a chemistry major, I found this internship useful because it gave me the opportunity to observe chemists within a corporation and to explore engineering as well. I spent January Term interacting with engineers, scientists, and technicians working on optical-fiber technology projects within a group that manages optical-fiber fabrication (the chemical process used to manufacture fibers for the telecommunications industry). Christine Tennent, director of Outside Vapor Deposition Processing, was my internship supervisor.
I also spent time conducting what Corning calls “smart interviews,” during which employees share knowledge about their career paths and current projects. I met with people working in photonics, polymerization, opto-electronics, coating development, and microbiology. The scientists explained why they work in these areas and how their projects will shape our future. This internship was a great opportunity for me not only to learn more about fiber optics, but also to observe how important communication skills and perseverance are in the workforce.
Alyssa Orrantia ’04
My main charge at AFCUSA was creating the prototype of a newspaper for teens based on Frank’s principles and the center’s mission. I was asked to create a budget and to research funding sources. In addition, I worked on the Spirit of Anne Frank Awards, which are given annually to students, educators, and citizens who work to fight discrimination and violence. In conjunction with my work, I met Jaap Polak, a Holocaust survivor who works with the center and speaks to young people about his experiences.
Learning about people such as Anne Frank and Jaap Polak helps us personalize the seemingly distant occurrences of the Holocaust. My internship allowed me to see and eliminate some of my own prejudices. I feel that this realization is an important step toward pursuing a human rights-related career, and I plan to continue my work at the center once a month.
Elizabeth Swanner ’03
I worked with Dr. Joan Butterton, assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, and research technologist Marie McDonough ’98. I was able to work with the investigation of the bacterial pathogenesis of enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli and Shigella dysenteriae. Specifically, we used a variety of molecular biology techniques to analyze the amount of Shiga toxin produced among different strains of Shigella. In humans, the bacteria cause shigellosis, a disease characterized by cramps, fever, diarrhea, and dysentery.
The laboratory experience I gained from the internship benefits my understanding of how a question manifests itself into a series of techniques in the lab in the pursuit of answers. The opportunity to work with Dr. Butterton, with whom I visited patients, has exposed me to the daily life of both a doctor and a scientist.
Joni Lefkowitz ’02
I have been interested in television production for several years and have taken advantage of my J-Term and summer breaks to work on a variety of television programs. I hope to work in television after graduation, and my internships have been a valuable way to find my niche in an expansive industry. Having interned on talk shows in the past, I was eager to explore the world of television news.
I discovered a bustling and ever-changing environment. My work at Meet the Press was primarily research based, and I worked closely with the program’s political analyst. I had no idea how much organization and preparation was necessary for news production, not to mention how quickly it must be accomplished. My favorite part was getting the chance to help with the live broadcasts of the show. The agony of getting up at 4 am to get to the studio on Sundays was quickly overcome by the thrill of seeing prominent political figures. I enjoyed the daily variety of news television, and I was grateful for the opportunity to work at such a prestigious program.