These students are living their dreams and claiming their places in the workforce.
Story by David Hoyt ‘14 | Photography by Timothy Archibald, Howard Korn, Peter Murphy, Erin Schaff, Alyssa Schukar and Katarzyna Woronowicz
The intern. The bottom rung on the corporate ladder. Often unpaid, or even paying for the opportunity to work — if they’re lucky enough to afford such an arrangement. May spend an entire summer in a sweltering city far from home, paradoxically shivering in an over-chilled office. Subject to the whims of a tyrannical boss, or worse, relegated to making photocopies and coffee runs.
Or at least, that’s the popular perception.
In the following pages, you will meet eight Kenyon students who are redefining the internship. This summer, these rising juniors and seniors fanned out across the country, clocking in to work in corporate towers, urban gardens and Major League Baseball stadiums. From conducting cutting-edge medical research to curating the world’s top museums, they gained deep knowledge and hands-on experience in the industries they one day hope to shape. They know the importance of learning from their mentors — but also speaking up and having some fun along the way.
Painting and sculpture curatorial intern, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art // San Francisco
Museums occupy an interesting place in society,” said Erica Littlejohn ’19, a studio art and modern languages and literatures double major. “They’re simultaneously a place of learning and entertainment, and the way we interact with them has changed dramatically in our increasingly digital society.” She chose to work specifically at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art because the institution reflected her own priorities. “The museum’s mission resonated with me because it values diversity, inclusion and curiosity, ideas that are reflective of what I hope to explore in my art-making process and art historical studies.”
Daily duties: “I worked under two assistant curators in the painting and sculpture section of the curatorial department. I researched specific artists or art objects in preparation for upcoming exhibitions or object rotations in the gallery. In short, I did a lot of fascinating reading.”
Conversation pieces: “My knowledge of art history allowed me to take part in in-depth conversations about art to which I would not otherwise be able to contribute. When it came to discussions about which artists could be in dialogue with one another for upcoming exhibitions, the knowledge I had developed at Kenyon was particularly invaluable. And since research was the bulk of my work, the skills that I have gained through my art history lectures and other classes enabled me to find information about lesser-known works that I would not have been able to locate.”
Lingua franca: “While the Gund Gallery is a much smaller organization [than the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art], my work there as an associate taught me what to expect in meetings and how to format my research, as well as when it is appropriate to offer ideas, and when I should hold them back. My time there also taught me the professional jargon, like ‘acquisition’ and ‘accession,’ used by people in the museum field. Understanding the terms before I started interning made me feel comfortable at work because museums speak a particular language, which can be kind of intimidating or confusing if you’re not familiar with it.”
Advice for internship success: “Talk to people outside of your department. Look through your organization’s website and see if there is anyone who has positions that you find interesting. Even if that person is not doing the job you would like to do in the future, they may have some insight into how to get into your field of interest or they may know someone who is, in fact, doing the job you want. Or you might just end up having a really interesting conversation with someone you would not have met otherwise.”
Marketing intern, L’Oréal USA // New York City
George Halliday ’19 discovered more overlap than one might expect between a Kenyon classroom and the sky-high offices of L’Oréal USA in Manhattan’s shining new Hudson Yards development. “The small class sizes at Kenyon encouraged me to be curious and ask a lot of questions,” the sociology major and studio art minor said. “As an intern, I was expected to speak up and contribute to my team’s problem-solving efforts. L’Oréal wants interns to give their input on business problems and provide a fresh perspective, which I felt empowered to do. I also think working closely with professors at Kenyon made me comfortable interacting with managers and those in the company more experienced than I was.”
“I was expected to speak up and contribute to my team’s problem-solving efforts.”
Summer do: “I worked on the L’Oréal Paris hair color operational marketing team, which basically handles everything involved in bringing a hair color product to market after it has been developed in the lab. For the majority of the summer, I worked on an independent project that proposed a merchandising solution my marketing team can use when working with retailers to organize hair color on the shelf. This involved working with employees in merchandising, e-commerce, retail marketing, hair color category management and creative design. In the end, I presented my proposal to executives in marketing and human resources.”
Maybe he’s born with it, maybe it’s networking: “I started looking for summer internships during the fall of my junior year, and L’Oréal’s summer marketing internship caught my eye when it was featured in a Career Development Office email. L’Oréal also stood out to me as an organization that empowers its interns to network within the company and get to know as many people as possible.”
The sociology of beauty: “My interest in sociology has fueled my curiosity about how consumers make meaning out of products that are integral to their everyday lives. Unlike a lot of other personal care products, beauty products are connected to a lot of emotions, which means consumers are extremely engaged.”
Marketing, content and creative services intern, San Diego Padres // San Diego
Lifelong baseball fan Jack Marino ’19 accepted a marketing internship with the San Diego Padres because he figured it was the best way to get a firsthand look at what it takes to run a Major League Baseball team. “As someone who wants to break into the industry, marketing made the most sense because it’s all encompassing, total exposure to the entire business,” the economics and math double major said. “Marketing is involved with and works with every department down the line.”
Advanced stats: The native New Yorker relied on skills he acquired in his math and economics classes to research how the Padres use email marketing to attract fans to San Diego’s Petco Park. “I’m going through very granular data using RStudio, a statistical computing software that I learned at Kenyon,” he said. “Being able to communicate the very specific findings in an understandable way is something that Kenyon has allowed me to be a lot better at.”
Classroom to clubhouse: “At Kenyon, I’ve learned how to be a problem solver. If I don’t know how to do something right away, I know it’s about understanding the steps and figuring out how to make sure I can execute what I need to in a certain amount of time.”
Persistence pays: “To get this internship, I sent handwritten notes to the human resources departments of all 30 MLB teams, and inside of each note, I had my resume and my cover letter. I didn’t know anyone who worked in the MLB, and I didn’t know how to get there. But what Kenyon instilled in me is the work ethic to get there.”
“I didn’t know anyone who worked in the MLB, and I didn’t know how to get there. But what Kenyon instilled in me is the work ethic to get there.”
Kenyon on the field: “Kenyon is well represented in baseball. The vice chairman of the Boston Red Sox is a Kenyon alumnus, David Ginsburg ’77, and we have Alex Cultice ’11, who is a scout and assistant coach for the Arizona Diamondbacks. We have Nina Zimmerman ’14, who is in communications and public relations with the Cleveland Indians, and Will Clemens ’13, who works in scouting for the MLB commissioner’s office. With the software that the Career Development Office has, I just searched certain keywords, reached out, and said, ‘I’m super interested in baseball. Can I talk to you?”
Video intern, New York Magazine // New York City
Film major and English minor Masen Colucci ’19 was invited back to New York Magazine this summer for a second tour of duty in the publication’s video department. “I came back because I love the people and the company and wanted to continue to work on the skills that I learned last year,” he said. In addition to shooting and editing videos, and working as a production assistant, Colucci also was able to pitch story ideas directly to magazine staffers. “My internship helped me realize that storytelling, whether it be through narrative film or digital media, is something that I want to pursue professionally,” Colucci said.
Real world education: “Will Adashek ’05 taught my ‘Basic Cinematography’ course, and the skills I learned during that class, in terms of navigating different camera, shooting and lighting techniques and different programs, were invaluable. I took what I learned in my courses at Kenyon, added that to what I’ve learned from my co-workers, and put it into practice.”
Magic on the Hill: “Kenyon teaches you a lot of things you don’t realize that you’re learning while you’re learning them: how to collaborate, how to think innovatively and analyze things, how to become a member of a community. Maybe it’s magic.”
“Kenyon teaches you a lot of things you don’t realize that you’re learning while you’re learning them.”
Taking charge: “I arrived at my internship during a pivotal time last summer. The entire video department had just restructured and was moving in a new direction, which gave me the opportunity to step up and take on more responsibility than interns typically do. I’m thankful that I had the chance to challenge myself and prove I could handle tasks on my own and be trusted as a member of the team.”
Embrace the unknown: “Your co-workers and supervisors don’t expect you to know everything — you’re an intern for a reason. The best you can do is work hard, show initiative and be curious about learning new skills and developing the ones you have so you can be a productive member of the team.”
Community affairs intern, Office of the Mayor of New York City // New York City
Although she spent her summer working for the Office of the Mayor of New York City (Bill de Blasio), Selam Bezuneh ’20 tried to spend as little time as possible walking the halls of power in Manhattan. As an intern for the Community Affairs Unit, her goal was to “make a fundamental connection between City Hall and New York City residents” by coordinating events and programs in partnership with local communities. “We took steps to advance community engagement in terms of safety, youth empowerment, mental health, diversity, education and health, just to name a few,” Bezuneh said.
Community and diversity: “My involvement with programs and organizations dedicated to diversity at Kenyon — the Black Student Union, Sisterhood, REACH, the Diversity Advisors — definitely propelled me to pursue this internship. In fact, former Sisterhood member Wanufi Teshome ’16 works in the Community Affairs Unit and informed us (of the opportunity). I have realized my passion for community outreach during my internship, and I intend to use that as the basis of my plan moving forward after Kenyon.”
Field work: “I initially wanted to push myself out of my comfort zone as an anthropology major, but I quickly realized that I was using a lot of my anthropology background in my work at the mayor’s office. Anthropology is very much centered around this idea of learning through studying community behavior and joint action, so the work in the Community Affairs Unit was of particular interest to me. I also have never really immersed myself in a city quite like New York before, so throwing myself into this unfamiliar location that I knew little about was definitely a means of challenging myself and pushing my limits.”
From Gambier to New York City: “The class ‘Whiteness, Power and Race,’ taught by Edward Schortman, consistently came to mind during my internship. This course taught me a lot about the distribution of resources among marginalized communities and gave me the background necessary to ask myself and others tough questions surrounding the topic. Also, the writing skills I gained from taking an English course at Kenyon definitely prepared me for all the report writing necessary during the internship.”
Intern, I Grow Chicago // Chicago
While interning at I Grow Chicago, an organization dedicated to building community in the South Side neighborhood of West Englewood, Rita Carmona ’19 took her work beyond the organization’s headquarters, known as the Peace House. The anthropology and modern languages and literatures double major joined a group of neighborhood elders on their regular walks to familiarize herself with the local community.
Wearing bright yellow shirts that proclaim, “I love myself,” Carmona says that I Grow’s staff spreads a message of hope in a community suffering from high poverty and crime (West Englewood is the third most violent community in Chicago and 48 percent of its residents are hunger insecure). “It’s vital to believe in self-love and to practice it when the world around you is telling you to feel the opposite,” she said.
A vital mission: “My job was to do all that I could. I tried to get to know everyone in the community better and build trust and relationships. I helped cook, clean inside and work in the garden. I taught art and slam poetry to teens and kids. I sat in on a lot of meetings with the co-executive directors to see more of how the organization works from the inside-out.”
Juggling act: “Kenyon is a place where I’m constantly doing something — there isn’t much rest, especially being so involved with different extracurriculars on campus, so the always beautiful chaos of the Peace House was a place where I could thrive. And my Kenyon classes that educated me about race and the systems in place today were helpful as I saw those things in action in Englewood.”
Challenging perceptions: “I took risks in speaking up about using art around the city to challenge our city’s, and our country’s, perceptions of black people, and especially people from Englewood, as dangerous or disruptive. Images of people in the Englewood community with poems they’ve written overlayed on top of them could help people think more critically of the way they perceive others. The project is still in the works, but I always tried to share new ideas of building up the Peace House and the future Peace Campus” (a healing zone with accessible resources that build skills, foster connection, and promote safe and thriving communities).
Get some real-life work experience, get your hands dirty, push yourself as much as you can."
How to rock your internship: “Walk in with an open mind and see what the organization is all about, and jump on opportunities that interest you. There isn’t time to be shy, but there is always time to listen and be critical.”
Research intern, Lieber Institute for Brain Development // Baltimore
“Unlocking the mysteries of the brain” is the goal of Baltimore’s Lieber Institute for Brain Development (LIBD), an organization that works to advance treatments for schizophrenia and other disorders. Neuroscience major, chemistry minor and scientific computing concentrator Margie Athol ’19 isn’t the first Kenyonite to work there: LIBD currently counts alumni Spencer Byers ’16, Gregory Carr ’04 and Henry Quillian ’17 among its staff.
“This summer has been all about learning and soaking in the experience,” Athol said. “My work at the LIBD has shown me what it takes to achieve a career in academic research and what it’s like once you’re there. There are parts that I love, and parts that I’m not a fan of, but I love problem-solving, collaboration, and doing the work and seeing tangible results.”
Kenyon connections: “My research at Kenyon has familiarized me with working in a lab environment, and my lecture and lab courses have taught me fundamental principles and skills that have allowed me to thrive and learn even more this summer. I chose to work for LIBD because of its history with Kenyon students — I know four Kenyon graduates currently working there, one of whom [Henry Quillian ’17] sent the internship information to a few professors at Kenyon to get the word out.”
New possibilities: “Right now I have no idea which career I want to pursue, and that doesn’t worry or scare me at all. I have my entire life to figure it all out. My work experiences have shown me new possibilities that I love and never knew existed, because they give me insight into what I value, what excites me and what is important to me.”
Learning for life: “As I think about life after Kenyon, I’m learning that I’m not just planning for a job, but I’m planning for a life. I have to consider the various aspects that complete a life and how to maximize each one. Without the work experiences I’ve had, I think I would still be planning for a career rather than a whole life.”
Junior fellow, Library of Congress // Washington, D.C.
Math major Flynn Shannon ’20 relied on his knowledge of computer science and coding to develop a Google Chrome extension for the Library of Congress. The goal was to share the Library’s vast collection of digital images with a new and larger audience in a simple way that anyone can access.
“Any time you open a new tab in Chrome, a random image from the Library’s Flickr is displayed as the background instead of a blank tab. There are also buttons that allow anyone to download the images, share them on social media or email them,” Shannon explained. “The Junior Fellows program afforded me the opportunity to work independently on my own project. It was really satisfying to get to build a web app from the ground up with very little supervision.”
Applying classroom learning to office life: “I definitely would not have gotten this internship if I hadn’t taken ‘Scientific Computing 318: Software Development’ last spring. The experience developing, testing and debugging simple web apps in that class gave me the skills I needed to be considered for this internship and gave me the ability to be successful.”
Career prep: “Prior to this experience I had only been exposed to software development in an academic setting. The workflow in an office is a lot different. Especially in the federal government, there are a lot more hoops to jump through. It was also really cool to see what goes into promoting new software, not just how it’s built.”
From Gambier Hill to Capitol Hill: “Of the 40 Junior Fellows, five of us were from Ohio, and the Library set up a meeting where we got to discuss our projects with Senator Sherrod Brown.”
Rare find: “On one of my last days, I went to the rare books reading room and got to handle an algebra textbook from 1545 called ‘Ars Magna.’ It’s considered one of the three greatest works of science of the early Renaissance.”
Employers across industries agree that an internship is the most important thing for a recent college graduate to have on their resume when being considered for employment. The value of an internship, however, is not only to help land a future job. Done right, it’s an extension of your college classes, providing opportunities to delve more deeply into an area of interest and understand theories in an applied setting. Here are some tips from Kenyon’s own Holly McCormack, dean for career development, to help you make the most of this learning experience.
Do your homework. Study the organization’s website before your first day. Look for recent media mentions and stated goals, as well as how the company talks about its work. Review staff directories or organizational charts. Follow the company on LinkedIn and other social media outlets to stay up-to-date on what it finds valuable and interesting.
Set goals. In an internship, it’s your responsibility to consider what you hope to learn and achieve during your time with the organization. Draft some initial goals and then check with your supervisor to see if those goals are on-track with their expectations.
Dig deeper. Maximize your experience by taking time to research industry influencers, market trends and best practices. Ask your supervisor and colleagues for recommended websites, reports, news feeds and other sources that could help you understand the broader context of your work.
Ask for feedback. Ideally, you’ll receive feedback along the way, as well as a formal evaluation at the end, summarizing your strengths and areas for improvement. Find out how the organization provides feedback. If there isn’t a structure or culture in place for assessment, you may need to be proactive by asking your supervisor and/or coworkers at the end of an assignment if they have recommendations for how you can better accomplish the work at hand.
Network. Joining a company means meeting professionals with a variety of skills and backgrounds, including employees, customers, clients and board members. Ask people whose work interests you if you could chat with them about their current positions and overall career paths.
Reflect. As in a class, taking time for critical reflection will help unpack the rich complexity of what you’re learning. Consider your assumptions, values and beliefs about the work and/or related issues going into the internship and how they’ve been challenged, changed or affirmed throughout the experience. How has this internship informed future classes, your professional identity and/or career prospects?