All about connections: How Linfield students achieved their dream summer internships

Mikenna Whatley, Features Editor

Get an internship: three words every Linfield student has heard countless times since coming to college. But figuring out how to find one that is right for each individual student can be a difficult task.

There are many ways students find their way to their college internships. The college career center, family friends and college alumni are just a few resources students can use to make connections to internship opportunities.

Many current Linfield students have done just that: made connections with people who helped them find an internship well suited for them.

Brita Gaeddert

Senior Brita Gaeddert found her internship at the International Pinot Noir Celebration here in McMinnville, Ore. through Linfield’s office for career development.

Gaeddert was hired for an internship at IPNC last summer, and was promoted to a part-time employee this semester. She plans to work out of the IPNC office in McMinnville this summer until the actual event in July.

This summer, Gaeddert will be working as the IPNC event coordinator, and thus will be the boss of the new intern. She will be helping to coordinate with volunteers, foreign and domestic winemakers, and anyone who will be working at the event, which is held on the Linfield Campus.

“We literally take over Linfield College for the weekend,” Gaeddert said. “It’s pretty fun.”

Gaeddert has very much enjoyed working for the IPNC for a variety of reasons; one of the main reasons being the ability to make personal connections with other employees.

“The fact that I have lunch with the executive director everyday is pretty amazing,” Gaeddert said.

The small office environment also allows opportunities for Gaeddert to give her input on project ideas for the IPNC.

“It’s a good combination of independent work as well as work for others and with others towards their goals,” Gaeddert said.

Gaeddert originally got connected with the IPNC office through the Linfield office of career development.

“I went to talk to Kristi Mackay and she gave me a list of a bunch of cool companies who needed internships,” Gaeddert said, “and IPNC was one of them.”

The Linfield office of career development has the resources to help students who are looking for internships in general, but have particularly good connections with local businesses and companies, which is how Gaeddert found her internship and current part-time job at IPNC.

Kristen Ursino

For some students, internship connections come from family friends. For Linfield senior Kristen Ursino, this is precisely the way she got involved with her internship at the MIND Institute at University of California Davis.

A family that Ursino has been friends with for several years from her hometown in California has a teenage son with autism. During the summer for the past four years Ursino has worked with their son and has progressively developed a passion for interacting with people, particularly children, who have autism.

His parents noticed Ursino’s growing interest in working with him and referred her to an internship opening at the child MIND Institute at UC Davis, where their son had previously participated in research studies.

MIND stands for medical investigation of neurodevelopmental disorders. The research done at the institute utilizes the skills of scientists, educators, physicians and parents to investigate the causes and treatments for neurodevelopmental disorders like autism.

The MIND Institute was started by parents of children with autism who raised funds to create a research center that would help them better understand their children and why they are the way they are.

“I will be working with the MIND Institute’s child life specialists in the Child Life program,” Ursino said. “My main duties will include providing play activities and supervising children who come to the research facility.”

Kristen will be graduating Linfield with a degree in psychology. She has always found this subject fascinating and hopes to be able to have a career in counseling or art therapy that will allow her continue her passion of working with kids. 

“Kids have so much potential when taught the proper skills,” Ursino said. “The earlier you help them the better off they’ll be.”

An internship at the MIND Institute is for someone with a background like Ursino, who has had previous experience working with autism, has a passion for helping children, and has studied psychology. It was through personal family friend connections that Ursino was shown and given this internship opportunity.

Robert Beezer

For sophomore Robert Beezer, connecting with Linfield alum with similar interests was the key to finding an internship well suited for him.

Linfield alumni and close friend of Beezer, Colleen Gilmore, currently works at the Oregon Health and Science University Primate Center, where she was able to connect Beezer with an internship in the lab facility as a summer research student.

Beezer will be assisting in the vaccine unit this summer where he will help create an improved shingles vaccine. Specifically, Beezer will work on cloning DNA in hopes to find which part of the virus’ genome specifically codes for the area of the virus, so doctors will be able to administer the most effective vaccine to patients.

Beezer is currently working towards a degree in biology at Linfield, and hopes that this internship will help him learn more about what exact career path he will want to take later in life.

“You always hear that it’s all about who you know and getting ahead in life,” Beezer said, “and I’ve never really wanted to look at life that way.”

Beezer still is not one to believe that you have to constantly be actively seeking out people who have connections to things you want or need. However, he does see the value in forming and maintaining friendships with people who are willing to extend a helping hand that Beezer would reciprocate with any help he could give them. 

“It does honestly help to know people and maintain those relationships,” Beezer said. “That’s the purpose of a friendship: to gain something from your friend’s companionship… and for a good friendship it goes both ways.”

Beezer feels especially thankful for the friendship connection he has made and maintained with Gilmore. He hopes to one day help her out the way she has helped him by giving him this summer internship opportunity.

Mikenna Whatley can be reached at [email protected]