When sophomores in this year’s Pathways Internship Program began their academic year last fall, hopes were running high for in-person internships in dream cities with organizations whose missions matched their own.
Instead, many of the 16 students saw those internships canceled, but eight students are still working remotely, exploring careers they might want to pursue after college.
La’Treil Allen ’22 is providing career experiences for high school students to help them dream big about their futures. Kemi Adewalure ’22 is working with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), helping its employees detect possible conflicts of interest.
As an intern with DreamWakers, Allen writes blog posts, helps plan fund raisers and furthers the mission of the organization, which connects students with professionals in diverse fields for “flash chats” about career opportunities.
“To have someone talk to you about their journey, what they did to prepare for their career when they were in high school, this is a simple idea but impactful,” said Allen, a government major. “I’m realizing that it’s very important that the work I’m doing has a mission.”
Adewalure, a double major in Asian studies and American studies, works in the SEC’s Office of the Ethics Counsel, advising and counseling SEC employees on personal or financial conflicts of interest found within disclosure reports.
“I wanted to learn more about the culture of an organization, communicating and interacting with people,” she said. “People with all kinds of different backgrounds work with the SEC, which makes it interesting. And I can see how my perspective and outlook on things really helps.”
The Pathways program in the College of Arts & Sciences guides 15-20 first-generation students through the internship process each year, providing individualized help with position searches, cover letters, practice interviews and other logistics. It also provides a Summer Experience Grant up to $8,000 for an un-paid or minimally paid experience and covers summer student contributions for the following year.
Allen said Ana Adinolfi, a senior career associate and director of the Pathways program, helped him think about what kind of position he wanted and where he wanted to be.
“Ana helped me write my first cover letter; that was interesting,” Allen said, “and get ready through practice interview sessions.”
Adewalure said the program’s weekly assignments pushed her to do things she had been putting off, like creating a LinkedIn account and updating her resume.
“I realized how bad my resume was when Kay (Lewis, a career development associate) just started chopping at it,” she said. “Pathways helped me do a lot of preparation before I looked for an internship, so if I didn’t get a call, I knew it wasn’t because my resume was lacking, I didn’t have a writing sample or my letters of reference weren’t available. I was prepared.”
Adewalure said she was also hoping to be working somewhere other than her home in New Jersey this summer, but she said her SEC internship has solidified her interest in a government career.
Allen longed for an internship in Washington, D.C. and if the COVID pandemic hadn’t happened, that’s where he would have been this summer with DreamWakers. But even though he’s working remotely from his home in Chicago, he said he’s gaining lots of valuable skills from working on the small team at his non-profit.
“I’ve been a part of so many conversations and meetings,” he said. “I can see the direct benefit of my work.”