Summer Opportunities: Internships Abroad Despite challenges presented by the Covid-19 pandemic, many students were able to travel this summer for valuable professional experience in other countries.
“The combination of culture, adventure and medical inquiry was a perfect experience for me.”
~ Mason Davis ’24
As summer winds down and the campus welcomes students into the 2022-2023 academic year, our ‘Summer Opportunities’ feature series explores the valuable experiences our incredible students participated in this summer. From at home to abroad, W&L provides a wide scope of possibilities for work experience, community engagement, research and adventure during the summer months.
The Covid-19 pandemic continues to present challenges for interning abroad, but many students were able to travel this summer for valuable professional experience in other countries. For Lily Mott ’23, this was a long-awaited opportunity. This was Mott’s second summer working at News Over Audio (NOA), which is based in Ireland, but her first opportunity to intern in person with the organization. She found the internship last spring while looking for opportunities abroad through W&L’s Center for International Education (CIE).
“I am interested in international journalism and exploring the media landscape in other countries, so I reached out to the Center for International Education for help,” Mott said. “They connected me with international internship experiences, and I was offered an internship position at News Over Audio. Due to coronavirus restrictions, I worked at NOA remotely in 2021, but the university’s Department of Journalism and Mass Communications supported me with a grant to intern in-person in Dublin this summer.”
Mott also received funding from the Edward Jackson International Reporting Fund with the support of the department’s internship coordinator, Stacey Kao.
“My favorite part about interning at NOA was how hands-on and involved I was in the editorial process,” Mott said. “In my other internship positions, I was assigned side tasks or ‘busy work’ rather than being directly involved in content production.”
Sarah Burd ’24 also credited CIE for directing her toward her summer internship in Austria. A 2022 recipient of the Gilman Scholarship, Burd received funding from the Center for International Education, the Johnson Program and the Physics and Engineering Department to intern abroad and spent her summer working with Saphenus Medical Technology in Vienna, Austria.
“Prior to this summer, I had never traveled outside of the United States,” Burd said. “Last fall, I met with Cindy Irby (assistant director of international education and study abroad advisor) who suggested the IES Summer Abroad program to me. I started doing my research and ended up choosing to apply to the IES Vienna Summer Internships Abroad program because there was no language requirement, and they were one of the few places that offered examples of past biomedical engineering internships their students had done.”
Irby’s office works with internship providers around the world to place students in summer work positions that combine substantive resume building with an immersive international living experience. Washington and Lee sent 63 students abroad for work and internship experience this summer through programs affiliated with the Center for International Education.
Irby said that W&L remained committed to sending students abroad during a time when many schools shut down their study abroad programs altogether due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and that this helped prepare CIE to support such a large number of students seeking international internships this summer.
“We were able to bounce back quickly because we were ready,” Irby said.
For neuroscience major Mason Davis ’24, the opportunity to utilize her skills as an emergency medical technician while improving her Spanish as a hospital intern in Peru this summer was a transformative experience. Davis completed her Shepherd Poverty Program internship through United Planet, an organization that facilitates international volunteer placement.
“Through hands-on learning; conversations with doctors, patients, administrators, nurses; and my own exploration, I was able to unpack the cultural, financial and societal influences on the healthcare systems in South America in comparison to those in the U.S.,” Davis said. “The combination of culture, adventure and medical inquiry was a perfect experience for me.”
Ana Dorta ’23 joked with her parents that she spent her summer as a nomad thanks to a blend of international and domestic opportunities available through Washington and Lee. Dorta attended Academia de Español de Nicoya in Costa Rica as part of a six-week fieldwork course in Latin and Caribbean Studies.
Students spend the first four weeks of the program in language classes for half of the day, usually with one instructor for every two students. For the second half of the day, students carry out an assigned activity at a vetted volunteer experience in the community. Dorta’s placement was in a local school, which provided her an opportunity to not only tutor students in English, but also bring her skills from the W&L women’s basketball team to pickup games after school. After her stint in Costa Rica, she spent the remainder of her summer working in Washington, D.C. for a publishing company while also completing a virtual internship through the Borgen Project.
“It was going from one thing to the next with really quick turnarounds,” Dorta said of her summer, “but it was such a great experience in independence and personal growth.”
Read more coverage of W&L students’ summer opportunities here.
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