Getting crucial experience to put on the résumé

On location, off campus: Profile of three student internships

Matt Pascarella

Matt Pascarella ’06 at Portland Magazine

Last summer, communications major Matt Pascarella '06 interned with Portland Magazine, a sleek publication that focuses on people and places in southern Maine and Portland, but has readers from New England to California. Pascarella, who is from Windham, Maine, began at the 20-year-old magazine at its small office in downtown Portland shortly after completing a Web search for local internships.

Housed in close, high-energy quarters with the friendly staff and seven other interns, he was treated like a regular employee, in terms of work-place interactions and the type of tasks assigned to him. He took photographs, did interviews, answered phones, and wrote articles and short pieces for the magazine.

True to the magazine's promise, he became familiar with all the elements that make up a finished publication, right down to research, fact-checking and distributing the magazine after it's printed. As an intern, he also received individual reviews of his creative efforts by the editorial staff.

"The most rewarding part was doing an interview, coming back, putting it together, and seeing the final product in the magazine," Pascarella says. He found this particularly true for an article he wrote about immigrants living in Portland, because of "everything these people went through and how happy they are to be in Maine."

Pascarella's biggest obstacle was adapting to the editing process. At first, he found all of the changes made to his pieces discouraging, but soon realized that editing is an important part of writing.

Although his internship reinforced his desire to write, he discovered a preference for writing entertainment copy. "But I think that any experience that involves writing helps me get my foot in a bigger door," he says.

Pascarella recommends that other journalism students intern at Portland Magazine. And the editors promise student interns they will see a "topnotch commercial magazine create itself in front of their very eyes." In fact, the editors go on to say, the interns help create the magazine.

In Pascarella's case, he did so while earning six credits and getting a lively look at what it takes to publish and be published.

Harrison Smith

Harrison Smith ’07 at IDEXX Laboratories

"You can never get a feel for what you are going to do in a field unless you actually do it," says finance and accounting major Harrison Smith '07, of Portsmouth, N.H. He discovered this while interning at IDEXX, an international biotech firm on the Nasdaq stock exchange. The firm, located in nearby Westbrook, Maine, specializes in veterinary supplies and testing products.

Smith's finance professor, Chris Lewis, who is finance manager for the firm's food and environmental division, gave the company Smith's résumé. He was called the next day to begin his year-long internship - which was full-time over the summer, but is now 20 hours a week while he takes a full course load. Unlike most interns, Smith does get paid for his work and has the option to earn credits as well.

Smith does financial analysis and reports for Asia Pacific Operations, the part of IDEXX that deals with Japan, Australia, New Zealand and other parts of Asia. Because Smith and his supervisor do most of the finance work for the region, he has major responsibilities. He often sits in on conference calls and attends meetings with executives. By creating new methods and checks for month-end reporting, and through constant analysis of the region, he has helped make the department more accurate and efficient.

Smith feels a sense of camaraderie with his supervisor, who treats him as an equal, and with the rest of the team, who have shown him respect from the beginning. Smith's main obstacle has been interning after just two years of college, because he is not yet equipped with the experience and knowledge the employees have. However, his ability to pick up information as he goes along has garnered him respect.

Smith says his experience at IDEXX has been like an entry-level job that gives him a great look at his future career. He hopes to become a Chief Financial Officer (CFO) for a major firm, but for now he is building experience and contacts that will make a successful career.

Smith hopes to do a second internship at IDEXX - this time with former professor Lewis in the food and environmental group, where he will focus on products, instead of a specific region. He strongly suggests that students do an internship to gain knowledge that cannot be obtained in the classroom.

Jessica Cote

Jessica Cote '02 at Saint Mary's Hospital

Jessica Cote '02 interned during her junior year with St. Mary's Regional Medical Center in Lewiston, Maine, where she worked under the marketing manager for women's services in the public relations department.

Cote learned a lot about marketing with the help of a supportive supervisor, who continues to be her mentor. At the hospital, she proofed and edited brochures and ads that were in development. She also learned how to use page design software. Cote says, "Over the course of those projects, my supervisor took time to explain design concepts, such as proper use of fonts and color within a piece and even brought me to a printing company to explain the print process."

Cote particularly enjoyed working on development of a program called Club W!, which was created to give women life-enriching experiences, including health education. She stays very involved in Club W! by sitting on the advisory board, where she helps to plan and develop programs.

Working with Club W! also showed Cote how the marketing lessons she had learned in her courses were enacted in the real world. She saw that a program such as Club W! gets women, who often make the health care decisions for their family, involved with the hospital in a positive way. The result is a relationship between the hospital and the women from which both the consumer and the provider benefit.

Did her internship open doors for her? Definitely! She found it to be a great way to build relationships with people in her field, and it provided her with the experience necessary to obtain a job she desired.

"Today I work as client and web services manager at Vreeland Marketing," she explains. Vreeland is an award-winning, full-service advertising and public relations agency in Yarmouth, Maine. The fast-paced job came about through one of her former Saint Joseph's professors, who owns the firm. Cote says, "I truly believe the fact that I had previous experience and was so focused on what I wanted for my career helped me get a job in the firm."

Cote, who lives in Auburn, Maine, strongly encourages students to do an internship. "The knowledge and experience I gained during my internship are probably the most valuable experiences I took away from college," she says. "It's such a rewarding and confidence-building experience."

By Marybeth Keniston '06
Intern, Marketing & Public Relations Department