Summer Is for Internships

Great internship opportunities are a big part of the Catholic University student experience. More than three-quarters of our undergraduates complete an internship. We caught up with 12 students who had outstanding internships this summer, and asked them to tell us about their experience. 

World map showing internship locations
Catholic University students fanned out across the globe to gain internship experience over the summer of 2019.

Sarah Campbell

Advertising internship in Cape Town, South Africa

Sarah Campbell in South Africa with elephant
Sarah Campbell (also pictured at top of page) landed an internship in South Africa that included a close encounter with elephants.

Hometown: East Lansing, Mich.

Class of 2021

Major: Media and Communication Studies with a minor in English

Employer: TinToy Productions, Cape Town, South Africa

Internship experience: Editing advertisements, helping set up and break down equipment for interviews, and learning more about Final Cut Pro. 

I was able to start editing some advertisements pretty early on into my internship. I helped edit a Graham Beck advertisement in my second week and have been able to learn about how editing in the advertisement industry works. 

Lessons learned: One of the most valuable skills I've learned is making sure that every single detail is accounted for so that no mistakes are made. Every single frame counts and being able to have an organized system to keep everything in order is the most important part.

How it happened: The study abroad staff helped me find the right program and connected me to the IES staff super quickly despite the last-minute timing.

Kensi Poukouta at the World Bank
Kensi Poukouta's internship at The World Bank used his economics and language skills to gather and analyze data for a major upcoming report.

Kensi Poukouta

International economics internship in Washington, D.C.

Hometown: Bowie, Md. (Originally, Republic of Congo)

M.A. Class of 2020

Major: Economics (B.A.); Integral Economic Development Management (M.A.)

Employer: The World Bank, Washington, D.C.

Internship experience: I am currently interning for the Doing Business Unit at The World Bank. We measure business regulations across 190 economies around the world to examine how easy it is to do business in the economies of each country. The information is assembled to form the Bank's flagship report and is used by academics, policy-makers, politicians, banks, development experts, journalists, and investors to aid their choices in international investments.

The immense responsibility I was immediately given was pleasantly surprising. Some of my responsibilities include: actively participating in face-to-face, video, and phone conferences with directors of various sectors in numerous countries; collecting, coding, and analyzing data for next year's report; and managing extremely confidential information.

Lessons learned: I learned to find a way to showcase my value as a world traveler. In international organizations such as The World Bank, all of Earth's languages are spoken. I learned to use my French and Spanish skills to make more personal connections with colleagues and clients in their native tongues. For example, by speaking a bit of Spanish, I was able to build a relationship with a contributor in Puerto Rico, a place currently in turmoil, and convince him to quickly send the information my team needed.

How it happened: The improvisation and networking skills that I have were enhanced during my time in college and have been very useful. The technical skills that I have gained in the IEDM master's program are tailored to perfectly fit the expectations at The World Bank. Lessons from faculty/friends at Catholic University — including professor Andreas Widmer, Dr. Richard Gallenstein, and Dr. Mark Michalski — all contributed to my recent success. 

Darby Grant

Accounting internship in Washington, D.C.

Darby Grant at her KPMG internship
Darby Grant's summer internship was based in Washington, D.C., but it included trips across the country for client site visits.

Hometown: Ocean City, N.J.

Class of 2020

Major: Accounting, with a minor in Sales

Employer: KPMG LLP., Washington, D.C.

Internship experience: Federal Audit Intern. During my internship I had the opportunity to travel across the country and take part in two client site visits, where we completed existence testing for the Financial Year 2019 Audit.

Lessons learned: The most valuable skill that I have learned during my internship was to be a sponge and absorb everything you are exposed to and to also not be afraid to ask questions.

How it happened: Professor Bill Kirst and the Catholic University Accounting Society helped me get in contact and network with KPMG.

Jamie Franc interned in Dublin, Ireland
Jamie Franc's internship included working in the Wicklow Mountains of Ireland on a documentary about the Vikings.

Jamie Franc

Film and television internship in Dublin, Ireland

Hometown: Lawrenceville, N.J.

Class of 2020

Major: Media and Communication Studies

Employer: Subotica Ltd., Dublin, Ireland

Internship experience: This summer, I was an assistant to the executive producer for Subotica Ltd. Subotica works alongside writers, directors, and producers during the pre-development and post-production phases of film and television projects. Subotica also works globally, helping with finances to help ensure that all international projects run smoothly. I had amazing opportunities to research topics and professional interests, read hundreds of pages of film scripts, write reader reports, and I developed synopses of scripts that are under consideration for future projects.
I had the opportunity to go to the Wicklow Mountains (an hour south of Dublin) to participate in the filming of a documentary about the Vikings. Working alongside directors, producers, actors, and other crew members, I was able to see what it was like to film a movie.

Lessons learned: The most important thing I learned during my Subotica experience is that internships round out classroom instruction. There is no way to know what goes on behind the scenes of production until one is a witness to the process. I was able to work with the financial documentation for the executive producer and complete other background tasks before filming was scheduled. On site, I learned the planning is very important because there are many people involved. It is not just actors and cameras.

How it happened: I learned about IES through a study abroad fair. Due to my four semesters of Irish language and culture and a summer abroad in Ireland, I wanted to take the opportunity to go back again for an internship.

Pierre-Alexandre Le Ber

Finance internship in Paris, France

Pierre Alexandre Le Ber at his internship in Paris
Pierre-Alexandre Le Ber's daily walk to work at his summer internship took him across the Seine on the Pont des Arts, and through the Louvre.

Hometown: Bethesda, Md.

Class of 2021

Major: International Economics and Finance

Employer: STOA Infra. & Energy, Paris, France

Internship experience: Investment Analyst Intern. My main task was to create an automatic scoring tool to rate our investment projects. I also wrote memos about investment opportunities, and did translations in French/Spanish/English.

The most pleasing experience was the general work environment. Firstly, my office is in the heart of Paris. Every day I would walk in front of the Bibliothèque Mazarine, across the Seine on the Pont des Arts, and through the Louvre to get to work. Secondly, no one treated me disdainfully because I was an intern. The CEO of the small firm (about 20 people) would walk through the office every morning saying hi to everyone, and if he had the time he would eat with us. Thus, interns, secretaries, the firm lawyer, senior investors, and the CEO could have conversations about the Women's World Cup or the Roland Garros competition.

Lessons learned: Among the many things I learned is understanding what information is important for an investor. What may seem like a detail for an ordinary person is in truth crucial for an investor. This type of investment in the infrastructure of a country is not like stock market investing; there is no beta or stock price that shows up on the NYSE home page. An investor has to pay attention to so many things, such as the political and economic health of a country, the quality and honesty of his partners, the risk of money laundering or terrorist financing, and so on. I also learned a lot of hard skills such as how to create complex Excel models, or how to write memos.

How it happened: Because my internship was in France, it was subject to French work laws. Among these is a specific kind of contract that is typically produced by the school the intern comes from. Without this contract it is impossible to legally work for the firm as an intern. Catholic University's Economics Department did not have such a contract, but Dr. Maria Sophia Aguirre and the Economics Department created one for me.

Morgan Allen in front of Design Alaska building
Architecture master's student Morgan Allen got a taste of Alaskan culture during her summer internship.

Morgan Allen

Architecture internship in Fairbanks, Alaska

Hometown: Salem, N.H.

M.Arch. Class of 2020

Program: Master of Architecture

Employer: Design Alaska, Fairbanks, Alaska

Internship experience: Architectural Intern. During my time at Design Alaska, I have drafted construction details, lead the coordination of acoustical and fire safety features of an elementary school, designed the schematic layout of an office building renovation, wrote narrative,s and created cost estimates for projects. I really liked lunch breaks, because I would sit outside and talk to people. I enjoy learning about different ways of life, and I discovered an Alaskan culture that focuses on the outdoors and values self-sufficiency and strength of spirit in overcoming obstacles. Many of their stories focused around salmon fishing, hunting moose and bear, hiking, camping, building their homes on their own, and snowmobiling when it was -40 Fahrenheit in the winter.

Lessons learned: The most valuable skill I developed was coordination between departments. I was fortunate to work with structural, civil, and mechanical engineers; project management; and acoustical subcontractors on several projects.

How it happened: I found this internship opportunity through Catholic University’s job search website, Handshake.

Samuel Matthews

Economics internship in Arlington, Va.

Samuel Matthews interned at Saffron Ventures
Samuel Matthews got to use the data analysis skills he learned as a research assistant on the job at his summer internship.

Hometown: Huntingtown, Md.

Class of 2020

Major: International Economics and Finance

Employer: Saffron Ventures, Arlington, Va.

Internship experience: In my position as a summer intern with Saffron Ventures, I was in charge of developing, sourcing, and presenting non-profit initiatives to an investor. Some of my tasks included designing marketing materials, conducting interviews, analyzing sourcing results, and planning international travel. For me, the best part of the internship was my team. I worked alongside a very impressive cohort of interns from around the country. With each team member coming from a different field of study and having their own unique skills, we relied upon one another to tackle the challenges of program development. Though not all of the interns were working on the same set of initiatives, our team’s ethos of collaboration meant that everyone was incredibly willing to offer advice or a different perspective. I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to grow professionally in such a community.

Lessons learned: One of the most powerful lessons I walked away with after my internship is how to handle rejection. While developing my initiatives, I conducted a significant amount of cold outreach. Looking back, hearing rejections from contacts was even more valuable than the sales experience of pitching my programs. Although it was discouraging at first, the negative feedback eventually became a vital source of information. By carefully listening to responses from my contacts, I was better able to design and source for the new initiatives.

I also learned a lot about the incredible importance of data. From researching the markets for my programs to keeping track of mass outreach, there were many elements of my responsibilities that I would have had trouble understanding without using data. One of the things my manager really pushed for was the consistent collection of metrics. As we got further into the summer, and I began preparing presentations for an investor, I realized just how important that had been. Being able to back my arguments up with data had a critical impact on the reception of my presentations.

How it happened: Data analysis was one of the areas where I was able to create the most value for my team. This certainly comes from my classes, but what prepared me the most for it was my work as a research assistant for Dr. Maria Sophia Aguirre. Since freshman year, I have been helping her evaluate the impact of an economic intervention in a developing region of the world. This has involved managing and analyzing large amounts of data, skills that served me very well during my time with Saffron Ventures.

Liz Shoemaker in front of Current Magazine rack
Liz Shoemaker did her summer internship close to campus, writing for a trade journal that covers public broadcasting in the United States.

Liz Shoemaker

Media internship in Takoma Park, Md.

Hometown: Wyoming, Pa.

Class of 2020

Major: Politics and Media and Communication Studies

Employer: Current Magazine, Takoma Park, Md.

Internship experience: Editorial Intern. I write feature and news stories that appear in Current Magazine on a regular basis. A story of mine was published online and received 1,500 reads in 24 hours. I also got to interview the host of the WYNC podcast Death, Sex & Money.

Lessons learned: This internship is making me a much stronger writer and interviewer, and is teaching me so much about the journalism field.

How it happened: I could not have gotten this internship without the help and support of Professor Josh Shepperd in the Media and Communication Studies department who referred me to Current. Also, Katie Bahr and Mary McCarthy Hines in the Marketing and Communications office gave me so many opportunities to write at Catholic University that my writing sample was sharp and I was prepared for the type of writing I would be doing at Current.

Chris Carey

Banking internship in Easthampton, Mass.

Christopher Carey's summer internship was an experience of becoming a valued team member at a commercial bank.
Chris Carey learned the ins and outs of commercial banking at a summer internship in his hometown.

Hometown: Easthampton, Mass.

Class of 2022

Major: Economics

Employer: BankESB, Easthampton, Mass.

Internship experience: As a commercial credit intern, I was responsible for assisting the credit analysts and portfolio managers in the monitoring process of business loans. I worked with tax returns, financial statements, government reports, and more to form a better image of customers' financial standing.

I greatly enjoyed how approachable executive vice presidents, and even the CEO, were throughout the internship. I felt like a valued employee through the entirety of my time with the company. In one particular instance, an executive VP asked if I would like to attend a committee meeting of board members where they would discuss the viability of several commercial loans at the bank. I jumped at the opportunity, and not only did I learn much, but I felt welcome the entire time.

Lessons learned: I learned the importance of being on time, listening with the intent to remember, and working each job with absolute diligence. Other employees notice devotion to work regardless of the importance of the task.

How it happened: Julia Browne, academic and career advisor in the Center for Career and Academic Success, helped me through the entire semester by offering general career advice, resume workshops, and more.

Maura Macdonald pictured with Sir David Amess in London
Maura MacDonald spent her summer as a parliamentary intern in the House of Commons office of Sir David Amess MP in London.

Maura MacDonald

Parliamentary internship in London, England

Hometown: Quincy, Mass.

Class of 2020

Major: Politics 

Employer: Sir David Amess MP, House of Commons, London, England

Internship experience: I was a parliamentary intern for the office of Sir David Amess MP. I wrote press releases for him, updated his social media, helped come up with parliamentary business questions, and handled several large projects for the office. I also did smaller tasks such as compiling and analysing data from surveys, editing, and connecting with different organisations on behalf of a charity started by a constituent.

Throughout my internship, there were so many interesting things that I experienced. By far, one of the most exciting things that I witnessed was accompanying my Member of Parliament to one of the votes for the leadership elections, and then going to hear the announcement of the last two candidates for Prime Minister live.

Lessons learned: This internship really widened my base of knowledge not only of British politics, but of international politics as well. I met so many different types of politicians throughout my time, and I really learned what it takes to be not only successful as a politician, but a stand-up person as well. As someone who is considering running for office in the future, it has been so great to study under someone who has been in Parliament for so long and has faced their ups and downs with dignity. 

Managing my time to optimise the amount of work that I do in a day is also a skill that this opportunity helped me to sharpen. Before this experience, I considered myself to be rather proficient at communicating with others in an office setting, but being in Parliament really helped me to develop my communication technique and made me more comfortable in high-pressure environments.

How it happened: Ms. Grace Schneider in the CUAbroad office was very helpful throughout this entire process. She made sure that I felt comfortable going abroad and really increased my confidence going into this.

Michaela Hebbeler

TV news internship in New York City

Michaela Hebbeler
Michaela Hebbeler's summer at Fox News solidified her determination to pursue her career goals.

Hometown: Franklin Lakes, N.J.

Class of 2020

Major: Politics with a minor in Media and Communication Studies

Employer: Fox News, New York, N.Y.

Internship experience: I was a lead college associate on Your World with Neil Cavuto. Your World is on at 4 p.m. every day. Our entire day is spent preparing for the live broadcast. My day mostly consists of doing research, video editing, and working with our guests. As an intern, my goal is to assist the production team in any way possible. There is never a dull moment in the news industry!
Getting hands-on experience in every aspect of a program, from concept to production, has been priceless. The people, both staff and guests, have exposed me to more than I could have imagined. This experience has solidified my desire to follow my career dreams.

Lessons learned: My internship experience taught me the importance of working on a team. There were so many individuals who had to work together and cooperate in order to make our daily show happen. It was wonderful to learn from my team and be a part of this community.

James Woods
James Woods took his musical talents to Iowa for a summer internship at the Clinton Showboat Theater..

James Woods

Music internship in Clinton, Iowa

Hometown: Alexandria, Va.

Class of 2021

Major: Music Composition

Employer: Clinton Showboat Theater, Clinton, Iowa

Internship experience: I was the assistant music director for the Clinton Showboat Theater, a professional, summer stock theater.  In addition, I played in the pit for the mainstage shows and I was the music director for the Theater for Young Audiences, and the young kids summer camps.

I was in charge of the “Follies” (musical cabarets). These were two big musical celebrations to start and close the season. Directing these shows included choosing and arranging the songs. The best part was collaborating with all of the artists to put on original shows. 

The mainstage season theme was “British Invasion.” One of the shows was Tommy, which is a rock opera by The Who. I was on keyboard II in the pit, and for this show that included producing and building over 200 sounds played electronically through my keyboard, such as strings, organ, and trumpet.

Lessons learned: It's really important to arrive prepared. I learned the scores to all the shows before arriving in Clinton. In summer stock you are rehearsing the next show during the day while the current showing is running at night. Some days are 14 hours long. Being prepared was a huge help!

How it happened: My piano training with Dr. James Litzelman was so important in my role as rehearsal pianist, where I had to constantly think about projecting the melody, playing the score with precision, and emphasizing dynamics. Basically, as a rehearsal pianist you have to reduce the orchestra into a single piano part.