Summertime means internships for K students

Olivia Cares and Mike Ortega at Mike's desk

Olivia Cares ’15 is a K summer intern in the Kalamazoo law office of Mike Ortega ’78.

Every summer, Kalamazoo College students fan out across the globe for summer internships. They gain workplace experience, acquire relevant skills and competencies, and test the academic theories they’ve studied in campus classrooms. The educational value of summer internships is increasingly recognized by employers, many of whom set greater store in a candidate’s internship experience than GPA or major.

K student interns also see the educational value of their summer experiences. We know this because we require students to submit written reflections to K’s Center for Career and Professional Development (CCPD) on their summer Field Experience Program.

Here are some insights shared by this summer’s crop of interns:

“It is incredibly gratifying to realize how far I’ve come in such a short time. While it was hard to notice while the internship was happening, I often felt like I was constantly lost. I can now look at what I was fumbling around with the first week and laugh about it, because now it seems so trivial and easy. And the great thing about this knowledge is that it can be immediately applicable to any other job within industry.”

Michael Lindley ’16, product development analyst intern at NextGxDx, Franklin, Tennessee; supervised by Gillian Hooker ’00, Director of Clinical Development in Bioinformatics)

“[In] my internship, whenever I hit a roadblock I was able to clearly analyze the situation and develop a solution. This is one of the most useful skills I think I’ve acquired and honed at Kalamazoo College.”

Minhkhang Truong ’16, teaching intern at the Olympia Schools, Hanoi, Vietnam; supervised by Christopher McDonald ’89, Head of Schools.

“I can take on almost any tasked assigned. Yes, sometimes I may have to ask extra questions to gain all of the background information necessary to fully complete a project, but the reality is that my K education has taught me how to ask those questions in a way that provides the needed answers. K has taught me how to ask important questions that leads to relevant answers, a skill that is beyond useful when I am being assigned such a variety of projects.”

Amanda Johnson ’17, sales and marketing associate at Youngsoft, Inc., Wixom, Mich.; supervised by Amy Courter ’83, Senior VP of Sales and Marketing.

“[T]he law is a living thing that is constantly revised and changed. This makes research, clear understanding, and communication the most valuable tools in the trade.”

Olivia Cares ’16, legal intern at Lewis, Reed & Allen, Kalamazoo; supervised by Michael Ortega ’78, attorney and shareholder.

The above experiences are among many that are funded each year through the CCPD’s Field Experience Program. Endowed funds provide $3,000 stipends to help defray the costs of unpaid summer internships. The CCPD recognizes with gratitude all the donors who have made these summer internship stipends possible, as well as all of the alumni who serve as internship supervisors for current K students.

For more information on K’s Field Experience Program, visit

Submitted by Joan Hawxhurst, Director, Center for Career and Professional Development, Kalamazoo College

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Andy Brown

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