Interning for Your Future
UW students take advantage of internship opportunities for a leg up on graduate school and careers.
By Micaela Myers
For many college students, there’s no better way of gaining career-related job experience or field-related experience for graduate school than an internship. Studies show internship numbers on the rise. At the University of Wyoming, the Center for Advising and Career Services, as well as individual colleges and departments, helps students find paid and/or credit internship opportunities. Here, we profile three UW students whose recent internships are helping propel them toward their career and academic goals.
Rebecca Steinkraus, senior, molecular biology and electrical engineering
Rebecca Steinkraus’ product engineering internship with Micron Technology in Boise, Idaho, was so successful, the company has already hired her back for a second summer. “I think this experience was extremely important to my career path, as it allowed me to see what it would be like to work in the semiconductor industry,” says Steinkraus, who grew up in Laramie. “It also allowed me to make connections within the company. Networking is essential to future job opportunities!”
Micron representatives attend some of the annual job fairs held at UW, which helped Steinkraus land the internship. “Also, Micron has hired many UW graduates, so they have an idea of how well UW is educating and preparing their students to join the workforce,” she says.
Steinkraus chose UW for its excellent scholarship opportunities and has taken full advantage of her time here, cheering with the UW Spirit team for three years, tutoring for the STEP Center and athletics, and being a member of Mortar Board senior honors organization and Cardinal Key National Honor Society. “While attending UW, I have had laboratory and field research experience through a maize genetics lab in the Department of Molecular Biology and have been able to work in the microbiology prep-room on campus,” Steinkraus says.
“I would recommend UW to prospective students because the level of education and support you get at UW is amazing,” Steinkraus says. “I don’t think I would have been as successful had I not chosen to attend UW.”
She credits part of that success to UW’s low student-to-teacher ratio and the university’s caring professors. “I have found that the teachers at UW really want you to succeed and are willing to work above and beyond to help you if you are willing to put the effort in,” Steinkraus says.
The fact UW is the only public four-year university in the state also sets it apart. “Whether it is athletics or educational scholarships, the state as a whole tends to get behind the students at UW,” Steinkraus says.
With everything she’s been involved in, Steinkraus still ranks her internship highest: “I think the most meaningful experience I have had in college was my internship. It allowed me to see what my life could actually be like once I graduate.”
She hopes to secure a full-time position with Micron upon graduation.
Eilish Hanson, senior, agricultural communications and business administration with minors in honors, finance and agricultural economics
Eilish Hanson of Dayton, Wyo., has completed a number of successful internships during her college career, including stints with UW Extension, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and the Northern International Livestock Exposition. “Finding internships through the university has been extremely easy,” she says. “For example, the College of Business often brings in representatives from nearby companies to present internship opportunities to students, while the College of Agriculture sends college-wide emails almost daily regarding internship opportunities. Such consistent sources of information on internship opportunities and other connections truly set UW apart from other colleges and universities.”
Graduating May 2017, Hanson feels ready to attend graduate school and then enter the workforce, in large part due to her internships: “Aside from strengthening the quality of my resume, the internships I have participated in have provided invaluable experiences which help to distinguish myself in a competitive job market.”
Between her sophomore and junior year of college, Hanson spent the summer working as a paid intern for UW Extension in Niobrara County. She also received college credit and gained hands-on experience helping to plan the county fair, coordinating judging events and designing the monthly newsletter. “I am very grateful for this experience, and I hope extension work will be an area of possible employment in the future,” she says.
Next up, Hanson was selected as an intern for the 2016 national Cattle Industry Convention with the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) via a competitive process. “The 2016 convention was held in San Diego, Calif., and interns spent a full week helping NCBA staff set up and coordinate each day’s events,” she says. “This was an incredible networking opportunity and an effective strategy to jumpstart a career in the cattle industry.”
Hanson received upper-division credit for the internship and returned as a second-year intern for the February 2017 convention in Nashville, Tenn.
Her most memorable internship was at the Northern International Livestock Exposition in Billings, Mont. “Interns were granted ample opportunities to gain first-hand experiences behind the scenes of livestock shows, rodeos, equine futurities and much more,” Hanson says.
Amazingly enough, Hanson also finds time for other involvements, including student work, ASUW student government, the Wyoming Union Board, UW Women’s Leadership, serving as a College of Agriculture and Natural Resources ambassador, and participating in the Wyoming Collegiate Cattle Association, the American Marketing Association and Collegiate FFA.
She also took advantage of UW’s impressive study-abroad opportunities. “Last summer, I had the life-changing opportunity to study abroad in Angers, France, for four weeks with the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics,” Hanson says. “We studied the French agricultural industry and culture, toured many farms, vineyards and castles, and visited Paris, the beaches of Normandy and Mount Saint Michael—just to name a few attractions.”
But she says her most meaningful experiences while at UW have been the connections she has made with faculty and staff.
“Attending school at UW is one of the most economical and beneficial choices an incoming freshman can make,” Hanson says. “The scholarship opportunities and low tuition costs set UW apart from nearby universities, and the amount of resources each college provides for career development and internship opportunities yields successful graduates from any program. The small class sizes and extremely helpful faculty members make difficult classes much easier to cope with. The small-town atmosphere makes anyone feel at home.”
Hanson considers UW’s location hard to beat, with outdoor extracurricular activities like hiking, camping, hunting, fishing and skiing for the outdoor enthusiast and shopping, professional sporting events and other urban attractions a short drive away in Denver.
“The scholarship opportunities at UW distinguish it from other universities,” she says. “Aside from my first year here as a freshman, I’ve actually made money by going to school through the help of so many generous scholarship donors. Furthermore, the Hathaway Scholarship available to in-state Wyoming students has been an instrumental benefit throughout four years of college.”
Dalyn Grindle, graduated December 2016, anthropology and environment and natural resources with minors in drawing and honors
For Dalyn Grindle of Pavillion, Wyo., her summer internship at the National Museum of Natural History at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., gives her a leg up in her applications to doctoral anthropology programs. Funded by the National Science Foundation, the Natural History Research Experiences program paired her with a museum scientist on the cutting edge of archaeology. Out of 450 applicants, Grindle was one of just 18 finalists selected to participate.
“The zooarchaeology research I did with sturgeon, no one has done before,” Grindle says. “My research project was a zoological analysis of sturgeon remains from the Northwest coast. It’s important archaeologically, but it’s also important for conservation because of the two species (of sturgeon), the green is of conservation concern. I have these two majors, and it was so cool to find an opportunity where they concretely intersected. I was doing archaeology, but I was able to push that data toward conservation biology.”
To Wyoming students not sure if they want to attend UW, Grindle says Laramie has offered her a completely different experience than where she grew up. “UW has a ton of opportunities,” says the Trustees’ Scholar, adding that students must be motivated to take full advantage of everything the university has available. For Grindle, those opportunities have included studying abroad, working in the Department of Anthropology and conducting McNair-funded undergraduate research.
One of Grindle’s study-abroad trips was an archaeological field school in Croatia. “I also did a semester in Australia my sophomore year,” she says. “Before that, I took a class where I got to stay with the Maori in New Zealand for two weeks. That was really interesting. Through the Haub School, I took a lab portion of a class in the Canary Islands. It’s awesome to be introduced to other cultures and ways of being.
“It’s so easy to study abroad here,” Grindle says. “All of my study abroad has been mostly funded through scholarships.”
Grindle also participated in the McNair Scholars Program, which helps prepare undergraduate students from groups traditionally underrepresented in graduate education for success in doctoral programs. Her funded research involved stable isotopes. “I don’t have a strong background in chemistry, so it was interesting to learn a different field for a project,” she says. “McNair helps you get into graduate school and set you up for a good career. I’ve gone to conferences through them and also did poster presentations and had the opportunity to speak at events.”
Grindle hopes to become a research scientist. “It’s good to be a really well-rounded applicant for graduate schools and also for the future,” she says, adding that UW goes the extra mile to provide students every opportunity. “I can’t imagine larger institutions being this caring about their students.”
To out-of-state students considering UW, Grindle says: “UW is a gem. Coming here gives you experiences you can take elsewhere and have a competitive edge in your career. You can do anything you want. That’s really cool about this university.”