Students Explore Dream Jobs in Internships

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Students Explore Dream Jobs in Internships

Callie Shipley, Coordinator for Junior Reporters

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Launching from the classroom into the world beyond, West Texas A&M University students explore their dream jobs through internships.

Over the summer, WT students interned at over 120 locations, according to Steve Sellars, the experiential learning coordinator for Career Services at the university. Sellars said students interested in finding an internship can attend career events at WT, talk with professors, family and friends, and visit a weekly “How to Find an Internship” workshop hosted by Career Services.

Senior mass communication major Kelly Ramos first learned about a journalism and multimedia internship at NASA through a Twitter post that Associate Professor of Mass Communication Dr. Emily Kinsky shared. Ramos had missed the deadline for that year, but she applied the following December and landed an internship at Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. Her interviewer mentioned that Ramos had been the very first applicant out of 1000 others.

“I have always been interested in astronomy as a child, and I had always dreamed of becoming an astronaut,” Ramos said. “Although I am no longer following that career path, working for the Office of Communication at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center is still just as great! I’ve always wanted to inform people about NASA and that they do more than ‘space stuff,’ as people like to call it.”

During her internship, Ramos wrote stories featuring her fellow interns and other employees. She also escorted tours, and while manning phones in the TV studio, she talked to producers from across the nation to make sure they were ready for live-shot interviews. Ramos co-produced an intern profile video that earned more than one thousand views on Facebook.

“Since I graduate in May, I’m going to apply for NASA positions, but this time across the country like in California,” Ramos said. “I am taking this chance to not only try to get a full-time position at NASA, but also travel. I took a chance coming from New York City to Canyon, Texas, why would I stop there? That’s how I ended with this amazing opportunity to begin with: I took a chance.”

Sellars said that internships open “a whole new world of understanding” for students, and sophomore mechanical engineering major Morgan Kirksey experienced this through her summer internship with the Texas Department of Transportation in Dumas, Texas.

“From my experience, I am not so sure that construction is where I want to work, but my whole attitude about construction changed,” Kirksey said. “I have so much more respect for the workers out at those sites and for all the work they do; it will never change.”

On an average day, Kirksey said she left her house by 6:50 a.m. to reach work by about 7:50 a.m. She would then prepare for the day, meet with the staff in the office, and head out to her assigned project. Kirksey worked with a full-time inspector who oversaw construction to ensure that the workers were following the plans and proper safety guidelines.

“The advice I would give someone who is considering an internship or in an internship is to go at it full-heartedly,” Kirksey said. “Try to gain as much experience as you can from it, even if it turns out to be something you do not like. You can at least learn from that experience that it is something you do not want to do for your career before it is too late.”

Sellars said to realize that internships are basically a three-month job interview. Employers watch students to learn their abilities and work ethic, and full-time positions are often a possibility. Meanwhile, interns also evaluate employers and decide whether the job would be a good fit for them in the future.

“I think internships can be game changers for students,” Sellars said. “It is fun to see former interns who have gone on and graduated and had successful careers. The internship certainly doesn’t account for all their success, but we like to think it played a part. Knowing we played a small role in their success is fun and very satisfying.”

A social media internship with the National Football League (NFL) definitely served as a game changer for mass communication major Seth Gillitzer, who has now turned his summer internship into a full-time position as a season employee this year in Culver City, Calif.

“There are so many things that I loved about my internship,” he said. “I think one of the best parts about working for the league is the people that I had the privilege to work next to every day. Whether it’s people on my social media team or Hall Of Famers like Michael Irvin and Marshall Faulk, everyone is the best at what they do in the sports industry and great people in general.”

While unsure exactly where his future will take him, Gillitzer said he has “big aspirations,” and he encourages others to realize that “getting that dream job” could be much more realistic than they may think.

“My advice would be just to be as ambitious as possible,” he said. “I know it might sound a bit cliché, but the worst anyone can tell you is no. I believe that if you put your best foot forward and approach every opportunity with the right attitude and tenacity then eventually you’ll get where you want to be.”

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