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Students turn internships into life lessons

December 11, 2009
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Senior Dmitry Rossoshansky has accomplished what many students dream of doing with an internship–he has turned a summer position into one that will last through the year. And he continues to work with the company as he takes classes and plays for Gallaudet’s football team.

It all started when Rossoshansky, who is originally from Russia and now hails from Chicago, Ill., worked with the Career Center to land an internship with the consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton. The company put this business and accounting major to work on the career mobility team within its human resources office. Rossoshansky split his hours between Booz Allen’s McLean, Va. headquarters and working off site from D.C. One of his tasks was to bolster a skeleton team tracking employees’ transitions and role-changing opportunities within the company. Knowing more about their current and future positions helped the company better support them in their career goals.  “They were behind because they only had two employees working on the project,” Rossoshansky recalls. “But we still finished earlier than expected.” Another group working on recruiting recent college graduates, learned about this success and asked them to join.

When the Washington Metropolitan Transit Authority asked for interns’ help with a new recruitment strategy, Rossoshansky signed on. His team created a proposal that netted first place in the first round of the competition and second overall. Metro may integrate their ideas in future recruitment efforts.

Supporting two areas of the company posed challenges, but Rossoshansky was willing to take them on. Meanwhile, a career consultant at Gallaudet oversaw the internship and checked in with the student and the on-site supervisor.

Rossoshansky worked hard and did long hours to complete his tasks. One day, he worked until the wee hours of the morning, went home, and drove back again in time for an early meeting. Ultimately, the effort was worth it. Shortly after that, the company asked him to stay on for the school year.

Real-world experience, world-class resume

Rossoshanky continues to go into the Booz Allen offices on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and work from home the rest of the time. The tasks have been demanding and Rossoshansky’s university recruiting work has taken him on a few out-of-state business trips.  Still, this fall, he managed to fit in playing running back for the Bison football team and spending time with his chocolate lab, Dice, as well as his school work. He is grateful to coach and Assistant Athletics Director Ed Hottle for teaching him lessons about responsibility in the real world.

The importance of internships has never been clearer to Rossoshansky. “I always tell people that they should find an internship,” Rossoshansky said. “In this economy, you have to.” In addition to that, he sees these positions as a way to sample a position in his chosen field and see if it is really a good fit. He also sees internships as networking opportunities that could help with future job searches.

Rossoshansky looks forward to pursuing a position at a company he admires, like Google or Goldman Sacks, and continuing to learn about the many aspects of the business world.

More stories

Dmitry Rossashansky is not the only student to take advantage of internship opportunities. With the help of career consultants in the University’s Career Center, over 200 students are expected to completed internships this academic year. Here are others who have taken advantage of these opportunities at home and abroad.

Sonali Patel. Photo by Brittany Castle.Sonali Patel

Patel interned as a research assistant at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Va., over the summer through Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU), a program funded by the National Science Foundation. Her work was in the field of biochemistry, focusing on the study of RecA protein and aggregation. RecA is a multifunctional protein that has many biochemical roles, such as DNA repair and genetic recombination.

Patel was assigned to measure the rate of RecA aggregation and its effect by different salts, using laboratory equipment such as a circular dichroism and UV/Vis spectrometer. “It was a great learning experience and a challenge to give presentations, write a research paper, and to read many scientific journals,” she said. The experience also helped with her career plans. “My goal is to get into a good pharmacology program after graduating from Gallaudet,” she said.

 “College students hear all the time that an internship is the key to finding a job after graduating,” said Patel, and she has learned that it is sound advice. In fact, she found the experience was so rewarding that she is looking for another internship opportunity next summer. “I would definitely encourage college students to take advantage of the opportunity to do as many internships as possible,” she said.

 

Poloko Qobose. Photo by Brittany Castle.Poloko Qobose

Qobose is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in recreation and leisure studies in sport management and is considering pursuing a master’s degree in sports administration. He enrolled at Gallaudet under the sponsorship of the Botswana government after attending the St. Vincent School for the Deaf in South Africa from 1992 to 2005. Qobose interned last summer with the Botswana National Olympic Committee (BNOC), helping the country’s athletes prepare for the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, England. His goal is to work with the Botswana National Olympic Committee and to help with the South Africa Deaf Sport Federation. “I feel that [the Olympic Committee] would certainly hire me because they know I can deliver,” said Qobose, who is also a valuable goalie for the Bison.

Andrew Kamanga, BNOC operations manager and Qobose’s supervisor for his internship, agrees that Qobose’s self-confidence in his work abilities are well founded. This was the first time that the BNOC had worked with a deaf student, and the experience proved to be a positive one. “His enthusiasm to learn and assist where possible was simply unbelievable,” said Kamanga. He added, “I was personally impressed with the depth of his knowledge on sport and recreation matters.”

The BNOC learned from Qobose, as well. “An internship is supposed to be about students acquiring practical work experience and knowledge from us the so-called ‘experts’ who have been working in various specialized fields,” said Kamanga. “However, it is my opinion that Poloko came to teach us quite a number of things that we did not know…. I would not hesitate to appoint him as a sports programmes officer for the BNOC. He is a confident and positive-minded person as well as an excellent role model for other young people. I am convinced that, amongst other people and institutions … Gallaudet has greatly helped to mold him into the person that he is. I appeal to them to keep up their good work.”

 

Ian DeAndrea-Lazarus

Ian Deandrea-Lazarus. Photo by Brittany Castle.This past summer, DeAndrea-Lazarus took part in research on a protein found in cancer cells. The senior worked alongside Dr. Tamas Geczy, a visiting researcher from Hungary, and Ryan Kobylarz, a recent graduate of Gallaudet, who is completing a post-baccalaureate fellowship. The project was run from the Laboratory of Cancer Biology and Genetics at the National Cancer Institute, one of the 27 institutes of the National Institutes of Health.

Over ten weeks from May to July 2009, DeAndrea-Lazarus assisted with studies of the Vav protein, which is involved in the protein kinase C cell signaling pathway. “The ultimate goal of this project was to determine whether the Vav protein takes part of the uncontrollable growth mechanism of a cancer cell and if so, how it can be manipulated to interrupt the signaling process inside the cancer cell.” The findings could lead to a major breakthrough: The ability to halt uncontrollable cell growth in tumors.

“This was a mind-blowing experience for me as I got the chance to work with esteemed researchers in the field of cancer biology and genetics and work on projects that were basically uncharted terrain,” DeAndrea-Lazarus said.

The internship involved a good deal of discovery and self-education. DeAndrea-Lazarus became familiar with both common laboratory equipment and delicate state-of-the-art tools such as the $300,000 confocal microscope, which brings into focus specimens too small for conventional microscopes to show. DeAndrea-Lazarus had the opportunity to try “a multitude of experiments and assays, some of which involved handling live bacteria and radioactive chemicals.”

To stay afloat, he had to constantly learn about the specialized research he was conducting. He often found himself reading scientific articles related to the project, a molecular biology guide provided by some of the researchers in the lab, or protocol booklets for the experiments to be conducted on a particular day. Almost every week, he attended laboratory-wide seminars and journal club sessions sharing information between the different sections of the Laboratory of Cancer Biology and Genetics. Some of the information flying between researched went over the undergraduate’s head, but DeAndrea-Lazarus came away knowing much more about the inner workings of a cancer cell-information that will help immensely, he said, as he pursues a career in neurosurgery.

 

Suzanne Warwick. Photo by Brittany Castle.Suzanne Warwick

Warwick interned for three months at the Frederick Douglass Historic Site in southeast Washington, D.C., assisting Curator Cathy Ingram, a Gallaudet alumna. Ingram said that for the past two years she has been working on the conservation of more than 2,000 volumes related to Douglass. Warwick was Ingram’s first intern, and she more than welcomed her help. “During the summer Suzy assisted me in putting the conservation records/images in the files, packed and unpacked the books that were delivered and shipped to two contractors,” said Ingram. “She had the chance to view the books that belonged to Douglass, which was a rare opportunity for her as a scholar/researcher.” Warwick also had the opportunity to cataloging, and had the rare privilege of documenting and translating Douglass’s 1870 diary of his trip to Santo Domingo, now known as the Dominican Republic.

Warwick said her internship was extremely beneficial to her on many levels, and helped her make choices about her future. “I learned lots more about Frederick Douglass and his life, and I gained exposure to the Anacostia region of D.C., which made me appreciate the city even more for its diverse offerings and cultural experiences,” she said. “I would love to find a job and remain in Washington, D.C. for a few years before applying for the Peace Corps or a similar volunteer service abroad. I now know for sure that I like a job that is balanced between working with people and doing paperwork. I am aiming toward some kind of customer service or progressive, hands-on career that makes a difference in the world.”

–Todd Byrd and Rhea Yablon Kennedy, photos and design by Brittany Castle

11 December 2009

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