Mapping from Student to Professional

Posted on May 5, 2015. Filed under: Career, College, Confidence, Internship | Tags: , , , |

As a college student you are usually told exactly what is expected of you by your professors in the form of a syllabus. During this same time parents are letting you know what they expect of your academic performance, especially if they are paying for your education. In this respect, college is laid out like a road map that you must follow to arrive at your desired location – graduation and a job.

In the professional world it is unlikely that you will receive such clear mapping from your employer. There may be a job description with a list of related responsibilities, but unlike a course syllabus you will rarely find a step by step guide to success. An employer may even expect that a fresh-out-of-college hire comes with innovative ideas to improve their established systems. YOU are expected to decide how to approach each task or create your own map to achieve the desired outcome.

How do you go from map-follower to mapmaker?

Internships provide an opportunity to test out your analytical and critical thinking skills in a supportive learning environment. As an intern you take what you’ve learned in the classroom and apply it in a professional setting as you test what works and what doesn’t. Students can practice that balancing act between asking too many questions and not asking enough. At your internship it is expected that you will have questions, even make some mistakes, and then receive constructive feedback so you can move forward with new knowledge and skills.

folded-maps-27675895One way to approach this transition is to write your own syllabus. Institute you own deadlines with benchmarks that let you know that you are on the right track, grading yourself as you move forward. Using available resources such as work manuals, mentors, supervisor consultations, and Google, an intern or young professional can create a map to navigate this new world.

You may not have considered following a syllabus to be a significant learning outcome of your college years, but knowing how to create your own can be an asset as you transition to life after graduation.

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Washington, DC Summer Intern: Kendra McCarthy

Posted on September 5, 2014. Filed under: Career, College, Featured Intern, Internship, Michigan State University, Social Work, Washington | Tags: , , , , |

Meet Kendra, a driven individual majoring in Interdisciplinary Studies at MSU who completed the summer internship program in Washington, DC through the College of Social Science Study and Internship Programs. Read what she has to say about her experience and the hustle and bustle of a big city like Washington, DC.

Kendra McCarthy Portrait

Name: Kendra McCarthy

Hometown: Sturgis, MI

Major: Interdisciplinary Studies in Social Science

Graduation: May/August 2014

Internship Placement: YMCA of Metropolitan Washington

Internship Location: YMCA of Arlington


What were your primary responsibilities at your internship?

I was responsible for creating and updating a roster of all the children attending Camp Letts, a camp that has 9 sessions throughout the summer. I was in charge of keeping track of the children’s session choices, transportation needs, payments, scholarship funding, and collecting forms.  


What was one of your fondest highlights of your internship? A highlight of my internship was being able to send children to camp, the other day I received an email from a mother thanking me and the YMCA for giving her children the chance to go to camp. She expressed how the YMCA is such a great support for her children. I forwarded it to my supervisor and she said times like these make her realize how worth it all is to her.


What was the biggest adjustment you had to make living in Washington, DC? The rush is a big adjustment. People are always on the go, it’s so busy here. There are so many people and everyone has somewhere they need to be “right now”. It’s a very fast paced environment, especially with taking the metro!


How has your internship enhanced your academic and career plans? I am interested in non profits and social work. I was able to see how much work goes into providing just one program for a community. And I was able to see the number of people impacted by one organization. I met someone who started out as a social worker in the schools and now he is a director of the child care program. That was encouraging because it has opened my eyes to the possibility of doing more than what I originally planned. Before I never considered being the director of any type of program, but to see he started out as a social worker lets me know I am on the right track.


Why should an MSU student apply to this internship program? You get the chance to live in another city without worrying about paying any bills! The only thing I knew before coming here was that I wanted to go to grad school after graduation, but coming here has given me clarity as to what exactly I want to do and what I need to do to get there. I have met some amazing people and made some great connections that I hope to continue after I leave here. The workshops and experience are both really beneficial; they teach you things that you would never learn in a classroom. They are life skills and experience that you can take with you even after you have left MSU.

The YMCA is one of our long-standing internship opportunities for students in many of the program cities.  The YMCA is known for being the “gold standard” in youth programming and their interns come away with valuable knowledge in this area and something that stands out on their resume.  If you are interested in a YMCA internship, please call 517-432-4541 to learn more about these programs.

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San Francisco Bay Area Intern: Brandi Skanes

Posted on September 5, 2014. Filed under: Career, College, Featured Intern, Internship, Michigan State University, San Francisco | Tags: , , , , , , |

Continuing our intern series with a feature on  Brandi  Skanes, Psychology and Marketing major who traveled to the West Coast for her internship.  As part of MSU’s partnership with Academic Internship Council, students have an opportunity to gain experience in the San Francisco Bay  Area while living near Berkeley.

Brandi Skanes Portrait

Name: Brandi Skanes

Hometown: Kentwood, MI

Major: Psychology & Marketing

Graduation Date: Spring 2017

Internship Placement: DSM Biomedical – Communications Intern

Internship Location: Berkeley, CA

What were your primary responsibilities at your internship?

My internship had four main focuses which include external communications, internal communications, CRM maintenance, and market research. So I have different projects within each focus.

What were some main projects you had worked on?

My main project was confidential, but I was doing research on our company’s competitors and customers. My side projects included cleaning up the CRM database that contains all customer and vendor information. My main project for internal communication was updating the news blog for the DSM Corporate Biomedical channel, and then the individual offices within the biomed field. For the external communications project, my supervisor showed me the steps of how we rebranded our company, and why the brand turned out the way it has. After learning about the brand, my supervisor, the senior communications specialist, and I worked on a video project. Again, I can’t say much about it because it was confidential.

What was one of the highlights of your internship?

There have been so many. Because I made a great amount of progress on my main projects, my supervisor gave me the opportunity to expand further than just learning about marketing and communications. She suggested I join a different subcommittee within the company that doesn’t have a connection to marketing, yet could teach me how to work within a group, and how to be creative and grab people’s attention through the material I present to them.

How has your internship experience enhanced your academic and/or career plans?

It has made me realize that I do want to have a career in a marketing or communications department but in an industry I am more interested in.

If you would like to learn more about a San Francisco Bay Area internship experience, please visit and check the event calendar for upcoming meetings or call 517-432-4541 for an appointment.

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New Orleans Intern: Jillian Mazure

Posted on September 5, 2014. Filed under: Career, Featured Intern, Internship, Michigan State University, New Orleans | Tags: , , , , , , |

Jillian Mazure, Interdisciplinary Studies in Social Science major, learned about southern hospitality and the diverse culture of New Orleans during her summer 2014 internship at Kedila (one of our favorite internship sites!)

Jillian Mazure portrait

Name: Jillian Mazure

Hometown: Burlington, Massachusetts

Major: IDS Community Governance and Advocacy

Graduation: May 2015

Internship Placement: Kedila Family Learning Services Teen Summer Camp

Internship Location: New Orleans

What were your primary responsibilities at your internship?

My primary responsibilities at my internship included making a newsletter every week to show what activities we provide for our campers. I was responsible for putting together orientation packets for the parents. Whenever we had disputes between campers or needed to discipline them, I helped make sure it was the appropriate punishment. I helped make sure campers were going to the right classrooms, signing in and out correctly and making sure they treated each other and the staff with respect.

What were some main projects you had worked on?

The weekly newsletter was my main project, but I was given the opportunity to learn how grants were written and proposed. I helped organize the 3rd of July BBQ by setting up games and activities for the campers to participate in. I also had to make sure that all our forms for the students were filled out correctly and organized. I ordered material in bulk for the teachers and arts and crafts activities.

What is one of the highlights of your internship?

A highlight of my internship was meeting all of my wonderful co-workers. They were so welcoming and made me feel at home, even when we were at work! Another highlight was our field trip to the Global Wildlife Center, and feeding the llamas, bison, and zebras.

Why should an MSU student apply to this internship program?

This internship program gave me the opportunity to experience a different culture in the United States. New Orleans is the definition of melting pot; you have the French Creole atmosphere everywhere, but can go down the block and try some of the best Thai food in the world. There are festivals every weekend and students will always have the opportunity to do something different every day. The people are some of the nicest, most welcoming people in the world; there is a reason we call it “Southern Hospitality.” I actually felt like I made a difference in the community and the community also had an impact on me. This internship changed the way I look at the rest of the United States and opened my eyes to all the opportunity around me.

If you are interested in an internship experience in New Orleans (one of the least expensive programs!) please visit or email for more information.

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Washington, DC Summer Intern: Hannah Deindorfer

Posted on September 5, 2014. Filed under: Career, Featured Intern, Internship, Washington | Tags: , , , , , |

Meet Hannah Deindorfer who interned in Washington, DC during summer 2014.  Read the interview below to learn about the connections she made and find out what she was able to cross off her bucket list!

Hannah Deindorf portrait

Name: Hannah Deindorfer

Hometown: Saranac, Michigan

Major: Geography

Graduation: May 2015

Internship Placement: The Association of American Geographers (AAG)

Internship Location: DuPont Circle, Washington, D.C.

What were some main projects you had worked on?

I assisted with the formatting and preparation of hundreds of entries for The AAG’s new, online-only Guide to Geography Programs in the Americas. I was also responsible for proofing and quality-checking pages on the AAG website related to Jobs & Careers in Geography. I worked on a literature review for a disaster-management grant the AAG is the lead on, and assisted AAG staff with the sorting and cataloguing of the AAG’s unique Geographers on Film archival materials. I also worked with the Communications and PR staff by proofreading and copyediting AAG Newsletter articles and other documents, as well as looked up imagery and graphics for use in promotional and outreach campaigns. I have updated inventory count of AAG publications and promotional materials. I went on local visits or meetings with staff to AAG partner organizations.

What was one of the highlights of your internship?

I was asked to judge a “Storymaps” competition in partnership with Esri, a major GIS software developer and a longtime AAG partner. For the meeting, I attended a small gathering at Esri’s headquarters in downtown D.C., and was able to participate in picking the winners of a map-creation competition that drew hundreds of entries from countries all over the world to be announced at a national conference in July. A more personal highlight was checking something off my bucket list that has been there for a while. I was able to go for a run from Arlington National Cemetery, to the Lincoln Memorial, and around the Reflecting Pool and the World War II Memorial. Running up the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and through such an amazing tribute to the history of our country was a memory that I will never forget.

How has your internship experience enhanced your academic and/or career plans?

I am a Geography Major at MSU, so interning at the Association of American Geographers, the leading professional membership organization for geography in the Americas, speaks directly to my academic and career interests. My involvement in the AAG’s research and grant activities, as well as being exposed in depth to their “Jobs & Careers in Geography” services have really advanced my knowledge of the field and my familiarity with the variety of work and career opportunities available to someone with a degree in Geography. Being involved in the communications, publications and outreach activities, allow me to enhance my English and writing skills, and every contact that I made through AAG could be a potential employer or future partner in the field!

Why should an MSU student apply to this internship program?

Washington D.C. is not only the capital of the United States, is it also the headquarters of many international organizations, private corporations, non-profits, and embassies of governments around the world. The city is so full of amazing opportunities for work, education, and a lot of fun! There’s so much to see and do, even on a budget, that it is impossible to fit it all into one semester. I would strongly encourage any MSU student to apply for this internship program for the incredible experience that includes a mixture of professional development, personal growth, and irreplaceable memories

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Washington, DC Semester Intern: Breanna Bishop

Posted on September 5, 2014. Filed under: Career, College, Featured Intern, Internship, Michigan State University, Washington | Tags: , , , , , |

Meet Breanna Bishop who is part of a growing number of students that participate in two internship programs during their undergraduate years at Michigan State University.  Breanna was part of MSU’s New York City internship program during summer 2013 and also participated in the spring 2014 Washington, DC Program.  Read her interview below to learn how the first internship prepared her for the second.

breanna-bishop portrait

Name: Breanna Bishop

Hometown: Detroit, Michigan

Major: Journalism

Graduation: May 2014

Internship Placement: Human Rights Campaign

Internship Location: Washington, DC

How did the academic portion on the political, monumental, and social culture of Washington, DC  benefit your experience within the study away program?

I think the academic portion of the program allowed me to gain a better understanding of DC. I think it’s necessary to understand the history of a place and the events that shape its identity.

What were your primary responsibilities at your internship?

My primary responsibilities included: assisting the Publications Director with copyediting and research. I was also able to draft interview questions and contribute my writing to EQUALITY magazine, HRC’s Federal Club Newsletter and the official HRC blog. My biggest projects were working on the magazine, as it takes a lot of background work to prepare for interviews and it goes through several rounds of editing. It was a bit exhausting at times, but seeing the finished publication was definitely worth the time and effort put in.

What was one of the highlights of your internship?

One of the highlights of my internship was being able to meet so many inspiring people who are passionate about the mission of HRC. It was amazing to be around so many people, who make it their job to fight for equality in our society.  

What was the biggest adjustment you had to make living in DC?

The biggest adjustment I had to make living in DC was budgeting. It wasn’t extremely difficult to do, but of course, it’s extremely different than any city in Michigan. I feel that my previous Study Away experience in New York really prepared me for being able to effectively manage my money.

How has your internship experience enhanced your academic and/or career plans?

It made it clear to me that journalism is the field in which I belong. I really enjoyed writing for the magazine and being able to experience the publication process, but I also learned how much I like the culture of nonprofit organizations. I think my internship experience really made me want to incorporate my interest in advocacy and journalism. I also think it solidified my decision to attend graduate school, while it may not be in the immediate future; it is definitely something that I’m looking forward to.

Why should an MSU student apply to this Washington, DC Study Away & Internship program?

MSU students should apply to the DC Study Away & Internship program because it really allows you to experience what types of work environments you thrive in. You may find that the initial career path you wanted to embark upon isn’t as fulfilling as you thought it would be or it may reinforce that it’s the right field for you. I think it allows you to gain a sense of what it is you want to do before you’re actually placed into the work force after graduating.

NOTE: Although these programs are administered by the College of Social Science, students of any major can participate.  As a Journalism major, Breanna was able to earn credits that applied to her degree due to a partnership between the College of Social Science and the College of Communication Arts & Sciences. This is unique to the Washington, DC Program that also includes partnerships with James Madison College, College of Arts & Letters and College of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

If you would like to learn more please visit MSU’s College of Social Science website: and check for upcoming informational meeting on the event calendar or call 517-432-4541 to schedule an appointment with a program coordinator.

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Washington, DC Summer Intern: Andrew Koprowski

Posted on September 5, 2014. Filed under: Career, College, Confidence, Featured Intern, Internship, Jobs, Michigan State University, Professionalism, Washington | Tags: , , , , , , |

Meet Andrew Koprowski, James Madison/Economics major who interned in Washington, DC during summer 2014 for Senator Debbie Stabenow.  Andrew was also MSU’s DC Program Ambassador. Read on to learn about the work he accomplished during his internship on Capitol Hill and how it will help him as he continues to explore career options.

Andrew Koprowski portrait

Name: Andrew Koprowski

Hometown: Flint, Michigan

Major: Political Theory and Constitutional Democracy and Economics

Graduation: Fall 2015

Internship Placement: Legislative Intern at the Office of Senator Stabenow

Internship Location: Hart Senate Building in Washington DC

What were your primary responsibilities at your internship?

I was assigned to a legislative team that specifically focused on tax legislation, economic development, small business development, and mortgages and housing legislation. As a legislative intern I researched current events that focus on the areas of concern for my legislative mentors as well as attended hearings and wrote memorandums for both the LA’s and the LC’s. In addition to research, I performed administrative tasks such as answering phone calls, data base management, as well as responding to constituent concerns via email and telephone calls.

What was one of your biggest projects that you had worked on?

One of my biggest projects focused on developing a co-sponsor memorandum for Senator Stabenow. The memorandum discussed the Commercial Real Estate and Economic Development Act. My legislative mentor wanted me to address what the CREED Act was, why Senator Stabenow should co-sponsor it and other background information about the piece of legislation. The project took over a week to complete simply because it required very in depth research that addressed the possible benefits and consequences of the CREED Act.

What was one of your fondest highlights of your internship?

One of the highlights of my internship was on June 17. I had volunteered to help the Agricultural Committee set up for a large event that they were hosting and I felt obligated to volunteer because Senator Stabenow is the Chair person on the committee. This experience was so rewarding because I was able to work one on one with Bill Sweeney, the Chief of Staff for Senator Stabenow. I had the honor to speak to Mr. Sweeney and it turned into an informational interview. I learned a lot from Mr. Sweeney and he offered me great advice on networking, how to secure a job after graduation on Capitol Hill, and his personal advice about graduate school and when to go. Not only did I get to meet Mr. Sweeney, I had the opportunity to meet with CEO’s and representatives from major corporations like Coca-Cola, GM, Ford, etc.

Why should an MSU student apply to this internship program?

I highly recommend this program to any MSU student who is serious about their future academic and career goals. The MSU study away program in DC is an incredible experience and can open so many doors. Students will learn so many valuable life lessons, including how to properly budget and save money, as well as how to network in a professional setting. The relationships you create while you are in DC are very important and the program introduces students to many networking opportunities. In addition, Vicki Shaver does a wonderful job connecting students to potential internships and works extremely hard to find students the right internship. She was the reason I got my internship and I give her so much credit because she does her job extremely well.

If you would like to learn more about MSU’s College of Social Science Study and Internship programs you can visit or email to schedule a meeting with a program coordinator. Washington, DC programs run every semester!


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New Orleans Intern: Jamie Jackson

Posted on September 5, 2014. Filed under: Career, College, Confidence, Featured Intern, Internship, Jobs, Michigan State University, New Orleans, Personal Growth, Social Work | Tags: , , , , |

The beginning of a new academic year brings the continuation of MSU Study Away Program Featured Intern series.

Meet Jamie Jackson who participated in MSU’s New Orleans program during the summer of 2014.

 Jamie Jackson Portrait

Name: Jamie Jackson  

Hometown: Detroit, MI

Major: Psychology

Graduation: May 2015  

Internship Placement: Volunteers of America  

Internship Location: Metairie, LA  

What were your primary responsibilities at your internship? I worked with staff to develop a new initiative called the Family Economic Security Program and performed initial case assessments.

What were some main projects you had worked on? I developed a community resource guide and a “strengths- based” case assessment plan for the Family Economic Security program. Also, I have assisted in a grant application for the program.

How has your internship experience enhanced your academic and  career plans? My internship confirmed my career choice of social work as right for me, and I plan to apply to graduate programs for social work.

Why should an MSU student apply to this internship program? A MSU student should apply for this internship because they would gain a lot of skills and knowledge in a positive and motivated working environment. Not only would they gain a great experience with the city of New Orleans and its people, but they will also learn more about themselves!

If you would like to learn more about  these internship programs, please contact MSU’s College of Social Science Study Away Programs Office at 517-432-4541 or

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Go Offline

Posted on October 11, 2013. Filed under: Career, Internship, Jobs, Life | Tags: , , , |

Using social media as a means to conduct an internship search or explore career options is a requirement.  It has become crucial for those looking for career opportunities to understand how to appropriately use Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn as job searching tools.  However, any successful job search must also include offline activity.  In fact, it’s the offline interactions that can take your search from exploration to employment.

How do you take your online search offline?

• Pick up the phone.
• Pick it up again after no one calls you back.
• Deal with people who may not want to talk to you.
• Ask for recommendations and introductions.
• Go to a lot of coffee meetings and informational interviews.
• Make a list of companies you’d like to work for then use online tools to see who is connected to those companies. Once you connect with them, take the relationship offline.
• Stop judging your progress by the number of online job applications you sent into a random company where you know no one. Instead, monitor your progress based on how many meetings you set up.
• Set up meetings with all of your favorite professors. Chat, listen and get career advice. Maybe they will introduce you to some great people too.
• Go to a lot of events whether they are networking events, Greek life events, campus speakers, or parties.
• Ask everyone you meet a lot of questions about themselves and what they do. People love talking about themselves. The more you talk about them, the more they like you and want to help you.
• You’ll also learn a lot of things about a lot of industries by talking to people. Regardless of if their industries are similar to yours, having these discussions will broaden your perspective and conversations when you start interviewing.
• Don’t say “I need a job” when you are engaging in these offline activities. Rather, ask them about their job.
• Email authors, bloggers, and speakers and introduce yourself.
• Talk to people at the bar, at sporting events, and at the gym.
• Tap into your alumni network. Receiving an email from a current student often makes an alumnus’ day
• Disarm people you meet by asking, “What would you do if you were in my shoes?”

What we’re really talking about here is networking the old fashioned way. Validate and personalize your online brand with offline interactions. Understanding how to use social networking as a part of your career exploration is necessary, but supplementing your online activity with offline connections makes you memorable and sets you apart from the rest of the online pack.


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New Orleans Featured Intern: Ashley Brown

Posted on September 24, 2013. Filed under: Career, College, Internship, Michigan State University | Tags: , , , , |

Ashley NOLA

In this installment of featured interns you hear from Ashley Brown, who interned last summer in New Orleans. 

Name: Ashley Brown
Major: Political Science, Pre- Law
Graduation Date: Spring 2014
Internship Placement: Apex Youth Center and Court Watch NOLA
Internship Location: New Orleans, LA 

What were your primary responsibilities at your internship?

Well I had two internships one with Courtwatch NOLA, and the other with Apex Youth Center. For the Court-watch internship my basic duties were to report to court at least twice a week and to follow and take record of whatever cases were assigned to me for that date. The youth center internship basically involved watching over children ages 11-16 and helping out with homework, social skills, and anything else that they may have needed.

What was your favorite thing about working / living in New Orleans?

My favorite thing about working and being in New Orleans was being able to explore the city and not really knowing what I would find. It was really nice being somewhere different for a change.

How has your internship experience impacted your academic and/or career plans?

The experience was wonderful and I learned a lot about my field, thanks to the court- watch experience. Now I know for sure that it is criminal law that I would like to practice, and am looking forward to the pursuit once I graduate and get into a graduate school.

Tell us one amazing or surprising highlight of your internship.  Are there any “AHA” moments?

The real highlight of my experience was getting through to some of the children that I was working with. I have to admit I wasn’t sure at first about taking on the Apex internship because I’m not a huge fan of children. But working with them so closely and getting to know them so well they helped me just as much as I was able to help all of them. I was even tearful when it came time for me to leave and to my surprise so were a few of them.

If you are interested in a community-based internship experience in New Orleans you can find information on this website and watch a presentation, too.  If you still have questions, please contact us to schedule an appointment.

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