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Tailor-Made Internship Combined Training, Networking

Aug 01, 2017


student in front of laptopAn internship at The Fishing School in Washington, D.C. gave Randolph-Macon College student Max Petersen '20 valuable training and experience. The Fishing School (TFS) is a non-profit that offers after-school academic advancement programs for underprivileged youth in Washington, D.C.

Petersen's internship, which was made possible by a generous grant from the Jessie Ball duPont Fund, was arranged by Jessica Majkowycz, assistant director of employer relations & internships for The Edge, R-MC's four-year career preparation program.

Experience + Networking + Social Capital
At TFS, Petersen, a business and communication studies major, managed and analyzed databases; created and surveyed data; and tracked and collected original content for the organization’s social-media outlets. He also assisted in TFS' rebranding process by helping with a "brand refresh" of all critical program documents. Porsha Childs, director of programs at The Fishing School, served as his internship mentor.

"Most students go to college because they have an interest in expanding their knowledge base, but also because they want to make themselves more marketable in their chosen career field," explains Childs. "Many companies are looking for employees who have education and experience. Internships gives students hands-on experience and allows them to apply what they have been learning in class to real-world projects. In addition, students who participate in internships expand their network, which increases their social capital."

A Tailor-made Internship
Childs tailored Petersen's internship by giving him projects that will further develop his skillset.

"During Max's first week at TFS, I asked him to share some of his short- and long-term goals,” she says.  "In addition to selecting projects that play to Max’s strengths and interests, I created a list of skills I thought it would be important for him to learn. For example, in the last five years I have seen a trend that fewer and fewer students have experience with Microsoft Excel and other data-entry programs. I therefore make it a point to teach my interns how to use Excel."

Petersen's first days at his internship were not at all what he expected—in a good way.

"I had imagined it would be slow and free of any real projects," he recalls. "That was not the case: I was immediately given tasks and assignments as if I had been working there for months. That was exactly what I needed. I didn't have the chance to second guess myself or my ability to do the work. I know that to be successful, one must be responsible and confident. My internship helped me hone both of those qualities."

One of the internship projects that Petersen especially enjoyed took place at Bishop John T. Walker School for Boys. Petersen spent two days a week at the summer camp site taking photos and video footage of the students to use on TFS' social media sites. In addition, thanks to the support of a generous donation by the Microsoft Corporation, Petersen ran TFS' new Virtual Reality Lab, which allows students to play educational games using virtual reality goggles. This added exposure to new technology enables TFS to further reduce the digital divide many students face.

Petersen says that interning at TFS taught him how to be more autonomous, and to trust his instincts.

"I had to budget time, money, and attention to a carefully crafted list of priorities," he says. "Before I officially started my internship, I was sent projects to work on, with limited instruction. This forced me to rely on my knowledge and skillset to complete the tasks to the best of my ability."

On campus, Petersen previously served as freshmen class president for the Student Government Association. In addition, he is a member of Leadership Fellows; the Honors program; InterVarsity, a Christian student group; intramural sports; and he is a resident assistant. His post-R-MC plans include graduate school, where he plans to earn an M.B.A.