Choosing the right internship

By Dezarae Churchill

Most of us can imagine ourselves in our future careers. Few have a playbook to guide us through the transition between university and the boardroom.

A foundation of William Peace University is an immersive learning approach. Every prospective graduate completes an internship as early as their junior year. This sets them apart from other job applicants in their desired field due to hands-on experience.

Balance Careers writer Penny Loretto highlights the value of doing an internship.

“Internships provide an opportunity to expose yourself to a career that matches your academic and personal interest,” said Loretto. “Additionally, skills gained from practical experience will make you more valuable as an employee.” 

But where do we start? How do we choose an internship?

Many students struggle with answering this question, and focus heavily on academics to prepare an impressive resume. 

Communications Senior

Makayla Cook is a senior communications major at Peace and aspires to pursue a career in marketing as a content creator. She found her internship through Jenna Hartwell, a WPU career counselor with the help of Inroads, an internship opportunity resource.

She interned with Truist Bank and her primary responsibilities were working on the Adobe Experience Platform.

The three most important takeaways from her internship, she said, were the importance of timeliness, engagement and willingness to learn. 

Truist was rebranding Suntrust into Truist Bank, and she created PowerPoints to assist in their creative development. Her internship experience was not everything she had hoped for. However, her mentors reminded her of the importance of not being too hard on herself.

“Walk in with an open mind,” Cook said. “Be patient with yourself because this is probably your first time in a professional setting.”

‘Intern Wednesdays’ were a highlight of this experience. Networking was made easy with all interns spending the day together playing games and doing team building activities. Higher executives attended these events and she is able to stay in touch with them through Linked-In.

“Even if you don’t have a great internship experience, you have at least something valuable that comes out of it,” Cook said.

Instead of having an awe-inspiring opportunity, she learned what she doesn’t want in a career, which gives her a head start on knowing where to apply when she graduates, and what content she is interested in creating.

It is clear one of the greatest strengths she learned through her internship was resiliency and the ability to navigate through new, difficult terrains.

Biology Graduate

Recent William Peace University graduate Jocelyn Proulx received her bachelor’s degree in biology this May. Her career goals are to attend graduate school to complete her master’s degree in zoology.

She interned at Cary Gastroenterology because it was an opportunity that paid well. She was not able to accept an unpaid internship which greatly limited her internship opportunities.

Her friend worked as a receptionist for the company, and helped her get the internship there. Proulx assisted with biopsy sample accession. She became proficient in using the microtome – an instrument used to cut material into extremely thin sections for examination under a microscope. The company’s histotechnologist checked her work for accuracy.

Proulx recently accepted a position at North Carolina State University, where she is working as veterinarian assistant. While studying at Peace she worked at Town and Country Veterinary hospital as a kennel technician. This helped prepare her for her current position.

The most important takeaway from her internship with Cary Gastroenterology was the importance of paying attention to detail. The precision skills that she learned at her internship will be applied throughout her career. 

“Don’t be afraid to challenge yourself,” she said. “Choose your internship carefully; this is your entry ticket into your desired field.”

Business Analytics Graduate 

Another Peace alumna, Alex Sciacca, had a similar internship experience as Proulx’s. She interned with Apex Therapy, LLC. Her focus was using Google analytics to monitor the traffic of the website. She also worked on basic administrative tasks, such as onboarding new therapists and organizing data.

Sciacca received an offer from her time at the internship, but declined because the opportunity was not in her desired field.

She is currently working as a team lead for the customer service team at Railinc, an I.T. company that works closely with the railroads. Her goal is to become a business analyst there within the next few years, while working on her master’s degree in business analytics.

She advises upperclassmen to start looking at internship opportunities early, and find one that you will want to do within your career.

Peace provides us with an opportunity to dip our toes into the water of our desired careers.

If you are still wondering where to begin in your search for an internship, perhaps ask yourself what are your deal breakers? Can you afford an internship that doesn’t pay if you’re doing exactly what you would like, or is it a necessity that you are compensated for your time?


Applying for an internship online
Photo by Emily Freer