Greg Smith, executive director at the Transitional Living Centers, and his intern McKenzie Hall
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Local businesses and organizations hosted nearly 30 interns from Lycoming College to complete a wide-range of projects and to give the students insights into potential careers. The full-time internships were made possible by the College’s Williamsport Internship Summer Experience (WISE) program, which connects qualified students with businesses and organizations in their field of study.
As part of the 10-week WISE program, students were paid a stipend and provided free student housing on campus. The Center for Enhanced Academic Experiences’ career advisers worked with the students and the organization to develop specific learning objectives for each student. The career advisers visited with each of the student’s site supervisors over the 10-week program to review student progress in relation to the organization’s expectations, and the career advisors consistently received positive feedback on the students’ performance.
Supervisors at the organizations expressed their appreciation of the students’ hard work and ability to pick up tasks quickly. Greg Smith, executive director at the Transitional Living Centers, was complimentary of his intern McKenzie Hall, a senior French and criminal justice major from Baltimore, Md. “McKenzie’s easy-going personality soon made her a favorite with our staff, and she had no reservations about working with the women we serve. We were very pleased with her management of a gender responsive assessment we needed to complete. She handled the technical aspects with ease.”
In its third year, the WISE program is open to students entering their sophomore, junior or senior year and complements other internship opportunities offered by the College and outside organizations. Interns represented majors from across the College’s diverse curriculum, including Coral Chiaretti, a senior from Ashland, Pa. with a major in mathematics and a minor in computer science, who used patented software technology at Discovery Machine, Inc. to develop characters for immersive training simulations.
“I live in a rural area so I was concerned about finding an internship that I could commute to. When the College found me a position in Williamsport and offered me campus housing, I was thrilled,” Chiaretti said. “Developing characters that interact with each other realistically is like solving a puzzle and seeing the pieces of my coding come together in a smooth animation was rewarding.”
Her supervisor, Colin Puskaritz, senior sales consultant, was complimentary about Coral’s ability to quickly learn the training programs and coding skills. “We pride ourselves on having a user-friendly design for people using our authoring software. However, we find interns always ask us new questions and give us new insights that help us refine our programs.”
The WISE program provides weekly seminars to develop the interns’ professional and soft skills covering issues such as choosing careers suited to different personalities, creating a professional LinkedIn profile and resumé, being aware of office politics, and learning the value of networking. The interns also participated in team-building and leadership activities followed by a hike led by Jae Ellison, the College’s director of Outdoor Leadership and Education.
At the end of the program, the College hosted a reception for the interns and their supervisors to express its appreciation for the community’s support. Stan Sloter, the chair of the board of trustees for the College and a real estate developer, spoke to the students about the importance of internships. He also shared how his internship at Lycoming College sent his career on a different trajectory than he had expected. Because of his experience, he offers internships to Lycoming students at his business, Paradigm Companies, in Washington, D.C., every year.
During this discussion with Chairman Sloter, the WISE students shared their stories about what they did and what they learned as a result of their internship experiences. The interns agreed the experience helped clarify fields they wanted to pursue and areas they wanted to avoid. Astrophysics intern Brendan Drachler from Coal Township, Pa. gave several planetarium shows in the College’s Detwiler Planetarium to students of all ages. He realized he was more interested in teaching adults than children and plans to pursue graduate school.
Desmond Faison, a junior financial accounting major from Philadelphia, who completed an internship with the Williamsport Earned Income Tax office, realized he was more interested in accounting than business finance. “Learning about tax laws and determining whether a particular income tax filing was accurate was interesting and I’d like to learn more,” he said. The tax office offered him, and fellow intern Daniel Yoder, a senior accounting major of Montoursville, Pa., paid internships for the upcoming school year.
To see some of the work accomplished by our interns first-hand, visit the Heart of Williamsport for stories about the Williamsport community captured in print by Sophie Herzing, a senior creative writing and painting major from St. Marys, Pa., and in video by Christopher Cizek, a senior majoring in creative writing and digital media communications from Galeton, Pa.
Other students participating in the internships include