From interning for the CEO of Pfizer Inc. to dissecting the political impact of Russian affairs at the Institute for the Study of War, internships have provided eye-opening experiences in different fields to Ohio State students.
Paid internships also are a key component of the university’s Scarlet & Gray Advantage program, which, when fully developed, will empower thousands of Ohio State students to avoid student debt.
Below are five internship experiences that helped Ohio State students make new aspirational discoveries and launch them down their career paths. In many cases, these opportunities grew out of connections and resources found on campus.
'Never be afraid to reach out'
As a public health major, McKenna Hensley wasn’t sure what an internship in her field might look like, especially during a global pandemic. Through a Jackie Robinson Foundation scholarship, McKenna applied to a research and development internship at Pfizer because of its dedication to fighting COVID-19. What she didn’t know was that her application was pulled for a different role: intern to CEO Dr. Albert Bourla.
With Pfizer being at the forefront of COVID-19 vaccines, McKenna was speechless when she learned the news.
McKenna sat in on meetings, prepared documents and networked with professionals from across the globe during her internship.
"The biggest thing that I learned is to take advantage of my network and never be afraid to reach out," says McKenna, a member of the Morrill Scholars Mentorship Program.
McKenna will graduate from Ohio State in May and is excited to pursue a Masters of Health Administration degree.
Reaching the world from home
For Alex St. Leger ’21 — who graduated with a degree in international relations and a minor in Spanish — his internship journey wasn’t a traditional one. He knew he was extremely interested in policy on a global level, but he wasn’t sure how that would translate into an internship. A professional contact informed him about a position at the Institute for the Study of War, and the opportunity allowed him to study the contemporary issues of Russian and Eurasian affairs.
From January to May 2021, Alex interned full-time remotely and took a full course load, sharpening his time management skills in the process. Day-to-day responsibilities included tracking media sources and important projects related to foreign policy.
Alex’s advice to current students?
“Utilize your network. You can start by reaching out to Ohio State alumni who are working in your field.”
After graduation, Alex received a Fulbright teaching award to teach in Moldova, a small country bordering Ukraine and Romania. Alex attributes his internship as one of the key factors that helped him stand out when applying to the Fulbright program.
An unexpected journey
As an industrial engineering major, Juan Sanchez always thought his internship prospects would be mainly inside warehouses or manufacturing facilities. It wasn’t until he was scrolling through student opportunities from JPMorgan Chase & Co. that his focus shifted.
When Juan read about the Corporate Analyst Development Program, he knew he had to take a chance and apply. The position and field were definitely out of Juan’s comfort zone, which excited and intimidated him.
After several interviews, Juan accepted the position and embarked on his rotational internship, where he learned about several roles within the company He not only honed his interpersonal skills and time management through call routing and networking meetings, but he also learned how valuable his background in engineering could be in different settings.
“(This internship) forced me to think outside of the box, and I became a better engineer because of it,” he adds. It’s a lesson for current students, he says. “Don't be afraid to try something new. Many times you don't know what you want to do until you do it.”
Juan is now looking toward taking what he learned at JPMorgan Chase & Co. and applying it to his future career in finance.
Get to know us
Be unapologetically yourself
When Aastha Gupta, a Computer Science and Engineering major, had the chance to attend the Society of Women Engineers' (SWE) annual global conference at Ohio State, she jumped at the opportunity to network and learn more about the engineering field. Little did she know she would walk away from the conference with a stellar internship at Northrop Grumman Corp., an aerospace and defense company dedicated to producing cutting-edge technology.
What drew Aastha to Northrop Grumman was its dedication to individualized experiences for each intern. Aastha completed several projects on simulations, code basing and creation of databases in a matter of months. She also presented her work to professionals at the top of their field. Through the whole process, Aastha felt valued and that her voice was being heard.
The most meaningful part of her internship was the mentoring she received from other women in male-dominated field.
"I think my biggest challenge at my internships/co-op was having imposter syndrome. The women there really helped me gain confidence and know I belonged there," Aastha says.
When it comes to giving advice to current students searching for internships, she advises: “Be unapologetically yourself during the entire job search process.”
To Aastha, the best internships are those that allow you to be true to yourself and foster meaningful connections.
Crafting her own story
When Kayla Hamm realized her ideal internship didn’t exist, she made it herself.
A double major in biology and medical anthropology, Kayla's internship story started by making a new connection with the chief nursing officer at City of Hope, a nonprofit clinical research cancer center in Duarte, California.
Kayla was able to customize an internship, spending two months shadowing the chief of nursing.
What intrigued Kayla the most were the physician-patient relationships, and how many physicians truly care and advocate for their patients to receive the best care possible, regardless of financial situations. Kayla has observed a patient being treated for cancer, which she described as “awe-inspiring.”
Kayla is applying for medical school because she said the internship solidified her passion for the medical field.
“Make sure that you are advocating for yourself and truly selling your qualifications,” she says as advice to students looking for internships.