Campus internship program benefits students

by Kalah Siegel, Staff Writer

There’s no shortage of clubs and organizations at San Diego State whose mission is to enrich students academically and personally. For incoming freshmen, or upperclassman looking for direction, the endless choices can make it challenging to find the best course of action for future endeavors.

Public health sophomore Kelly Nguyen didn’t waste any time delving into SDSU’s resources best suited for her career-driven goals. As a freshman, she decided to enroll in SDSU’s Summer Internship Program, a class primarily comprised of upperclassmen.

“Most people don’t take advantage of the Career Services programs until they’re juniors or seniors, but by getting involved as a freshmen I’ll be able to have four summers worth of internship experience when I graduate,” Nguyen said.

The Summer Internship Program is a class that helps students become marketable candidates for prestigious summer internships over the course of one academic year. The fall semester is comprised of resume review, polishing interview skills, workshops and professional development activities. During the spring semester, students attend intensive training on weekends to prepare for Career Fairs, interviews and networking.

“I really wanted to bring a program to SDSU students that would help them think about how they should be preparing for internships before they start applying,” Campus Internship Coordinator Heather LaPerle said.

Nguyen is a testament to the success of the program, as she landed a summer internship at the Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute. The position granted Nguyen the opportunity to conduct a research study aimed to improve the type of support patients at CHORI receive.

The sophomore partnered with Family Information and Navigation Desk ambassadors at CHORI to analyze its services and suggest improvements. Nguyen discovered that continuous hands-on engagement between patients and FIND ambassadors was the most successful way to help families find the resources they need.

Nguyen’s success in Oakland didn’t go unnoticed by SDSU: she was honored with the Initiative Award at the 2015 SDSU Summer Internship Program Reception.

“This year’s Initiative Award is going to Kelly for going above and beyond the program requirements and for her involvement in the Gates to Success student organization, which focuses on promoting excellence for all students,” LaPerle said.

In addition to making her mark professionally, Nguyen is making her mark at SDSU. She’s been granted early access to SDSU’s Aztec Mentor Program, a program targeted primarily at juniors and seniors. Nguyen also teaches leadership workshops as a peer leadership consultant through Student Life and Leadership to help her peers work toward receiving a certificate in leadership.

“Take advantage of the programs and resources that they have at Career Services — start building your resume, join different programs and internships to give you a sneak peak into the real world,” Nguyen said.

Nguyen believes that it’s never too early to plan for the future, and SDSU offers the tools that will help students succeed.