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First Blog Posts from Rollins’ Summer 2014 LGBT Advocacy Interns

Since the Summer of 2009, the Johnson Family Foundation has provided grant funding to send Rollins students to Washington, DC to intern with LGBT advocacy organizations.  This summer, Sabrina Kent and Hanna Cody were selected for this program.  They have been asked to post periodic blog entries, sharing their experience with our blog readership over the summer.  Below are their first blog posts of the summer.

Hanna Cody @ Supporting and Mentoring Youth Advocates and Leaders (SMYAL) in Washington, DCIMG_4936

As I looked out the window from my plane, the beauty of the city immediately surprised me. I could see the Washington Monument out of my window, and as we descended into Reagan, I could not believe that I was about to spend the summer in the nation’s capitol. It quickly became apparent that the city was both an exciting and welcoming place. I met with my fellow classmates during American University’s orientation to debrief what our class, Community and Social Change, was going to be like over the next eight weeks.  Our professor immediately made it apparent that he wanted to make the class as beneficial as possible and promised to design classes that got us off campus and out into the “real” D.C. We made wish lists of all the things we wanted to do or people that we would like to meet while in the city and presented those ideas to our fellow classmates. From there, our professor has begun to compile a personalized itinerary for the remainder of the summer, which started out with a trip to the British Ambassador’s home for a gathering, celebrating the launch of the summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict. The evening was truly unforgettable and it was awe-inspiring to hear the ambassador speak, let alone see the inside of his home.  Read the rest of this blog post here.


Sabrina Kent, National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) in Washington, DC

We’ve only been in DC for two weeks and already this experience has been better than I had ever expected it could be. I’ve already made it a point to embark on my fair share of tourism. The first night that I got here I went to the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument and last Monday on my afternoon off Hanna and I explored the Smithsonian’s Museum of Natural History. This summer I am serving as the Meetings and Education intern at the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) here in DC. Not only do I work less than a block away from the White House in the old National Securities Building (how surreal!), but I instantly felt at home in the positive work environment that I was thrust into just two short weeks ago.H and S at British Ambassodor reception

The NGLCC serves the LGBT business community by connecting LGBT Business Enterprises (LGBTEs), business owners, employees, and entrepreneurs with the chamber’s corporate partners (Wells Fargo, American Airlines, IBM, to name a few) to expand the economic opportunity and advancement of LGBT equality in the workplace. In 2002, the founders, Justin Nelson and Chance Mitchell, sought a solution to the economic inequalities that LGBT small business owners (in particular) face in a capitalist America. Read the rest of this blog post here.


Lessons from Hawaii

Submitted by Drew Doty, Class of 2013

It has been a year since I graduated from college and rest assured the learning has not stopped. Rather than walking across a campus to various class DrewDotyrooms where learning was instructed to the rudimentary tune of a syllabus, I now engage the world I studied for seventeen years. In doing so, the magnitude of life has become incredibly real. This is both a blessing and a challenge, for if I succeed or fail in this classroom the effects impact far more than just a grade point average. This is not said in remorse. In fact I find relief knowing that my work now amounts to more than just a number on a piece of paper. I also have come to thoroughly enjoy certain activities that I used to dread, such as writing, which is what has prompted me to write this article.

It is timeless wisdom that tells us we will forever be students in life, and lucky we all are that this is true. In the past nine months since I left Rollins College I have been on a bit of an adventure with a mantra of “figuring it out.” I am currently writing from the Big Island of Hawaii with a list of the lessons this paradise has taught me, most definitely the hard way. I am certain that it is rare for any person to leave the academic world and not stumble, and perhaps this is for the best. How else could we find our gumption? It should be noted that this is not written out of bitterness or regret, but rather as a reflection with the hope of helping others in similar shoes to my own. The following are a few points worth contemplating.

  • Take the time to determine what your work and the time it takes to accomplish it, is worth in this economy. Do not settle for less. This will definitely change as time goes by, but having a starting rate will help you avoid situations where your services may be taken advantage of. In the worst case, where financially you must acquire immediate income, certainly do not pass up a paying job because it pays less that you should be making. However, do actively engage the intention to make this situation as temporary as possible.
  • Before starting a new position, clarify with your employer what your exact responsibilities will be, what your compensation will be, and how many hours per week you should anticipate working. Starting a new job is exciting, especially in an economy where good jobs are hard to find. It will be well worth the time to allow yourself a day or two to process what the commitment will look like for you. Make sure this will be a good investment of your time and energy.
  • For the many people who are unsure of what their exact career path will look like (myself included), work-trade positions offer a seemingly affordable way to travel, gain practical experience, and network. The reality is there are a lot of us who are unsure or are not ready to commit to a career right out of college, and this is just fine! But, this also means that there are a lot of people looking for inexpensive ways to travel and experience new places, which those offering work-trade positions are well aware of. Do not let the lure of exotic travel compromise what you have established as fair compensation for your services. In other words, if you are considering doing a work-trade position, be confident in what you are worth to that employer, and politely negotiate a fair trade before you commit.
  • Always speak your whole and honest truth. It doesn’t matter how you get it out, but you will never feel satisfied if you don’t.
  • This may seem like common sense, but it is still not worth learning the hard way. Never tolerate sexual harassment. Regardless of whether it happens to you personally or to someone in your network, you have a responsibility to yourself and your community to take immediate and thorough action against it.
  • When buying used cars (or mopeds) make sure that the title, registration, and inspection are all up to date. It is more than worth the money to have a mechanic thoroughly inspect the vehicle before you buy. The freedom of transportation is very alluring, but you have got to be patient and smart about the buying process.
  • Unpaid internships should be avoided. Quite frankly, as college graduates (or even students) we should be smart enough to market ourselves to paying employers as valuable assets, regardless of the amount of experience we have in that given field. We have spent roughly a quarter of our life examining, studying, and applying what we have learned in a classroom and we can certainly do this in the workplace. Do not let any company (no matter what their prestige is) tell you that you are not capable of accomplishing the work that needs to be done for them just because you do not have three years of experience doing it. If you want experience in a particular field, it is worth the wait to find a paid position in such field. Consider picking up a more accessible job while you search and keep reading and studying your field of interest. The more you know, the better you can market yourself for the position you really want. Go after what you want and never give up the chase.
  • Travel is a beautiful thing. For many of us, all we know is we want to travel the world and that’s cool. However, what we generally do not see is the value in establishing ourselves in one place for a long period of time. Sure, home is definitely in your heart, but consider how nice it is to have a large network of friends in one place, to know all the hidden gems of certain city, to become an active member of a community rather than just a tourist. By having a home base, you have somewhere to travel from and back to – a place where you can process all the incredible places you have been and to plan your next adventure. If travel makes your heart grow, a home base allows your heart to rest which is equally important. So my recommendation to those who are unsure of what career they want and who really want to travel, find a place where you would love to live for five years. This doesn’t mean you necessarily will, but with that goal in mind you will be critical enough to find a really great location.
  • To add to this, use the time you have now to learn how to save and invest your money really well. I know it sounds agonizingly boring and a lot of the literature on the topic is. However, by saving and investing intelligently, you give yourself the freedom to do what you really want to do (like travel). Also, once you have learned how to do it really well, you will have this skill for life, which means a lifetime of getting to do what you really want to do.
  • Take the time to learn how to grow at least some of your food. It is incredibly simple once you know how, and it can be done in any living situation. Financially, you could save yourself hundreds to thousands of dollars a year depending on the extent to which you grow. This is money you could use doing more things you really want to do. This is another one of those skills that you will have for life, and gladly so.
  • Finally, and this is the hardest one, be grateful. No matter what you are struggling with find a way… find something that makes your soul feel grateful. If you can be grateful you will always find happiness. You do not have to love everything in your life, but you can be grateful for having life.

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Word from the W.I.S.E.: A Non-profit & Social Entrepreneurship Internship

AshleySMSubmitted by Ashley Williams, Career Services Graduate Assistant

Like many undergraduates, Nicole Franco knew her dream job would involve helping people, but felt unclear as to how she could do it. This past summer, she decided to intern at Christian HELP and learned a great deal about social entrepreneurship. She also gained experience in research, writing business proposals, and e-commerce.

Toward the end of the internship, Nicole even pitched and named the jewelry-making program she participated heavily in at this social entrepreneurship and sustainability initiative (SESI) designated site. She called it the Women’s Initiative for Sustainable Employment (W.I.S.E.). She denotes in a separate blog post, “The purpose of the jewelry program is to provide transitional employment for women who are active seekers by assembling jewelry and selling it online and in local boutiques.”

Below, Nicole discusses her duties in detail at Christian HELP and the skills she developed.

Nicole Franco @ Christian HELP in Casselberry, FLINT1

I can’t believe it’s already been a month since I started my internship. Time has flown by so quickly, yet I’ve learned so much within the first month. Today, I will be joining Royce, the program coordinator for social entrepreneurship at a networking event at the Citrus Club. It will give me the opportunity to work on one of my learning objectives of learning how to effectively network and create work relationships. It’s something different from what I’ve been working on for the past month, but I think it will be a great experience. It will enable me to gain a better understanding of how networking should be done and help me improve my communication skills.

Aside from networking, one of my major tasks has been to research. During my research, I have learned so much about the non-profit sector. It has enabled me to get a better understanding of how they operate and most importantly how they sustain themselves. Every now and then during my research, I have came up with several questions about non-profits. The great thing about doing an internship at a non-profit is the knowledge you receive by the hands on experience. I’ve learned about misconceptions and how to carefully select potential donors.

Another learning objective that I’ve been able to focus on is how to write business proposals. I had no idea the requirements for business proposals were so complex. In order to successfully write a business proposal, one must spend HOURS of researching to come up with specific details and come up with a logic model to facilitate the completion of the proposal. The constant changes or rewriting of the proposal is what makes it a lengthy process, but it’s definitely a gratifying feeling once all of the above has been accomplished.

INT2One of the things that I most enjoy about my internship is that I am able to fearlessly throw my ideas to the table. It makes me feel as though my opinion is considered during the projects that are taking place. Since I have experience with e-commerce, my main focus has been on the jewelry line. Recently, I had the opportunity to join another member of the jewelry project on a “mini” shopping spree for jewelry making supplies at a local supply shop. Not only was I able to pick out supplies of my choice, but I was allowed to freely design pieces. I received positive feedback upon showing my samples to the women part of the jewelry project and other employees at Christian HELP. Creating the jewelry and doing extensive research has been one of my major accomplishments, as well as networking.

As a result of the internship, I am learning to effectively and fearlessly communicate my thoughts about projects, ideas, etc. It has enabled me to become even more passionate about social entrepreneurship. This experience has taught me so much in such a short amount of time. Not only has it enriched me but it has enlightened me. I always knew that I wanted to help the community, but taking part in the social entrepreneurship aspect of a non-profit has become my passion. I am grateful for this opportunity and can’t wait to continue learning and growing as a person.

Trials & Tales of an Intern Dolphin Trainer

Submitted by Ashley Williams, Career Services Graduate Assistant

Remember when you were a kid and dreamt of training dolphins or whales? Well intern Bethany Eriksen got to live the dream this past summer with her internship at the Georgia Aquarium!

Here, Bethany reflects on her new competencies in animal husbandry, dolphin physiology and psychology, and running a marine mammal show. She also offers valuable advice to individuals shooting for a career in animal care.

Bethany Eriksen @ The Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta, GADolphin

Hi Everyone! As I begin my final blog post, I have learned so much this summer that I don’t know where to begin. My knowledge of marine mammal training has increased tremendously through participation in this internship. Prior to starting this internship, I had little comprehension of the steps necessary to properly train dolphins, however I now possess an extensive understanding of the professional techniques and tools of the trade for training animals. I also now have a much better grasp on what it takes to run a marine mammal show. It is incredibly fast paced, as most live show productions are, and involves a lot of running around backstage. However, unlike most productions, our shows involve animals with unique personalities who can decide to deviate from the script and perform their own adlibbed version of the show. I’ve learned to think on my toes and be ready for anything!

I have gained a lot of experience in animal husbandry by preparing the dolphin food, cleaning up the areas and maintaining their cleanliness by completing AM, PM and weekly cleaning duties, as well as assisting the trainers as they care for the dolphins. I have also gained an incredible amount of knowledge by standing back and observing how the trainers react and work through each situation with the animals. Through my internship’s lecture series, I have learned even more about dolphin physiology, training, and troubleshooting situations. I have been able to get to know a talented team of trainers who each possess a unique background and lots of experience in the field. Through conversations with them, I have been able to gain personal insight that will help me navigate this competitive field.

Moving forward, I hope to continue to learn more about the marine mammal field and about the conservation efforts of zoos and aquariums. I am interested in experiencing other animal training facilities too, to gain as many different perspectives as possible. One of my new goals is to visit Marineland, the Georgia Aquarium’s sister location in St. Augustine, FL! Check it out: I believe that the more people I can talk to and the more I can learn, the more successful I will be in my future career.

As I come back to Rollins, I hope to apply this internship to my academics and Environmental Studies major. Through my study of the world’s environment, I will continue to reflect on the value of zoos and aquariums and the important role they play in addressing today’s environmental issues. My previous studies combined with this experience will help me as I persist in defining my career path and the role I hope to play in making the world a better place for animals, the environment, and people.

My advice to students interested in pursuing a career in the world of animals is to gain as much animal experience as possible through volunteering at zoos, aquariums, vet clinics, shelters, etc., but to also talk to as many people as possible. When you visit zoological parks, talk to animal care takers, animal trainers, education staff- ask them questions and try to get a feel for what each job involves so you can figure out what might be the best fit for you. Even spend a day shadowing at one of these facilities if possible. Attend an IMATA conference to meet current animal trainers and network- students are allowed to attend too!

For students interested in interning at the Georgia Aquarium, be ready to work hard, do dirty work, be a good communicator, and have a positive attitude. Above all, when pursuing any internship, don’t give up! Apply for EVERYTHING- you may not always be accepted to your ideal internship the first time, but if you are persistent you never know what may come your way.

It Takes Guts to Intern in an Operating Room

Submitted by Ashley Williams, Career Services Graduate Assistant

This past summer, Rollins students interned in great numbers in a variety of settings around the globe.  Over the holidy break, we wanted to share some of their experiences with you as they all had some very interesting experiences.  Taylor Wejkszner left Pennsylvania after high school to attend Rollins for undergrad, returning home for her Summer 2013 Internship at Lehigh Valley Health Network. Despite going to school in Florida, her hTaylor Wejkszner Blog Post 1 Photo 1ometown network proved useful in securing the position with LVHN.

As an intern, Taylor worked 70-hour weeks, “waking up at 5am for 6:30am surgery,” interacting directly with patients, shadowing in multiple departments, and conducting her own research on robotic surgery.  Here, she also offers insight into doctors’ self-care habits that best serve their patients in high-stress environments.

Taylor Wejkszner @ Lehigh Valley Health Network in Allentown, PA

As I pass the halfway marker of my internship, I cannot believe all I have accomplished in the last four weeks. Securing this internship at Lehigh Valley Health Network has not only been a blessing, but one of the most hands-on learning experiences I have had to date. Though in the past I have shadowed in many departments, such as Dermatology and Respiratory Therapy, I have never been able to get the opportunity to scrub in for surgery or have so much direct patient contact as I have in my current position.

Taylor Blog Post 3 Photo 1I am beyond fortunate that I heard about this opportunity but feel as though now that I have had so many great experiences in this program, it is my duty of spread the word to other college students interested in the medical field. As a person who grew up in the Lehigh Valley but went out of state for college, it can be difficult to stay on top of open positions or opportunities available at home when I am in Florida nine months out of the year. I spoke with Jean Hoffman, Internship Coordinator for LVHN about researching where high school students attend college if they do not stay in Pennsylvania and sending out flyers about the research program to the school’s in that particular area. This will ensure that every student who has gone to high school in the Lehigh Valley has a fair shot at scoring such a great summer internship.

In addition to spending time in the Operating Room, Gynecologic Oncology doctor’s offices, and the Labor and Delivery floor at Lehigh Valley Health Network, I have also been in the process of collecting data for my research project which I present on July 26th. As of now, I will have all the data I need by the end of the week and then will be working with a biostatistician at the hospital so we can analyze cost of the hysterectomies, rate of readmission and complications based on type of surgery (i.e. robotic, laparoscopic or open) and post ICU times. With this analysis, the focus is to show the payback of performing robotic hysterectomies vs. open hysterectomies based on the economic and quality of life benefits. I chose to undertake this research topic because of the skepticism toward robotic surgery. Though it is a relatively new way to operate, it has repeatedly and consistently shown its advantages.

I have also had time to reflect on the learning goals I created in the beginning of my internship. I feel as though I have been able to accomplish most of my goals but still have a lot to learn before I can say I have what it takes to be a doctor. As I continue to read the book, Better: A Surgeon’s Notes on Performance by Dr. Atul Gawande the reality of the medical field and healthcare become more noticeable as I walk around the hospital each day. One of the most relevant topics in the book is how doctors cannot help patients if they do not take responsibilities for basic acts such as washing their hands in between each patient. The book goes into detail about the contentious history of hand washing in hospitals. Though rubber gloves are used in each examination, they do not substitute for using hand sanitizer in between patients. It is these simple rules that must be followed to allow doctors to continue to help patients and keep disease out of the hospital.

In addition, I have still been learning about the psycho-social aspect of being a doctor. After seeing 25 or more patients who are suffering from different forms of abdominal cancers, it is hard to go home and go back to everyday life knowing that 25 more people in this world may not see tomorrow. I spoke with Doctor Martino about this and he said it takes time before anyone who becomes a doctor can accept that he or she is only human and can never or will never be God. He said it never really sinks in until you lose your first patient. Though a sad fact, it is one everyone has to come to terms with.



An Inside Look: Interning in Marketing/Advertising

Submitted by Ashley Williams, Office of Career Services Graduate Assistant

Ariel Rivera first discovered her Summer 2013 Internship opportunity at the Rollins Career & Internship Expo this past spring. Ariel not only secured an Intern position with Where Orlando magazine, but also received both academic credit and scholarship toward the opportunity due to her thorough investigation and timely follow up.

In this post, she describes her tasks as an intern, the challenges she overcame, and the skills she has developed half-way through her internship.

by Ariel Rivera, Summer 2013 Intern at Where Orlando Magazine in Orlando, FL

As I approach the midpoint of my internship with Where Orlando I have realized the hard work and dedication that goes into notAriel Rivera Blog 2 wherejuly only publishing each issue of the magazine, but organizing advertisements, dealing with clientele, and informing the community of our publications. I feel that I have progressed immensely on completing my learning objectives. For example, as I work closer with the circulation manager and editor, among other personnel, I have learned the process of completing each issue and assignment by working together to make everything from articles to emails as effective as possible. Most of my work entails posting on the company’s social media sites, which has made me proficient in using these tools for successful advertising and as great sources of information. I have always felt intimidated by complicated computer programs and now I find myself using Excel and design software with ease. Embracing the power of online interaction and realizing how useful websites like Facebook and Twitter can be in promoting a company has helped me to feel connected to my community and a helpful asset to the company.

Learning to be in a new environment was initially the hardest part of my internship. I am used to working in fast paced environments so being in a cubicle for hours at a time took a lot of getting used to. However, I now enjoy going to work and I definitely see myself working in this field as a career. Seeing the power of group work has impressed me the most. I am used to doing things on my own, including homework and other assignments. Working together with everyone on staff step by step in creating e-blasts (emails sent out to clients and advertisers), newsletters, and event updates has taught me that it takes a lot of time, energy and teamwork to keep a magazine running. Especially when I attended my first Where Wednesday event at Bon Posh Fashion Jewelry was I able to see how advertisers, concierge, clientele, and those on the magazine came together to create a fun way to connect with each other and sponsor other projects. Helping with that event and finally seeing it unfold was perhaps my most proud moment with the magazine thus far. I was able to see how Where Orlando actually affects the community and it helped me connect to other businesspeople and feel the satisfaction of a job well done. Read More…

What Should I Do When I Grow Up? Stories from Summer 2013 Academic Interns

Submitted by Elizabeth Boggs, Associate Director of Career Services

Elizabeth - ThumbnailWe all ask ourselves this question from time to time and what better way to get some answers than to participate in an internship! Rollins students started their Summer 2013 academic internships the first week of June and have shared their experiences from the first few weeks. Check out their first posts and learn about your friends and classmates who are interning all over the country with employers such as Clear Channel Radio Philadelphia, Mosaic Wealth Management, Lehigh Valley Health Network, Christian HELP Foundation, and many more!