Views from the Cube: Trading Technologies

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Daniel Ruswick (WCAS ’18) is an economics major interested in pursuing a career in software/media. He interned this summer at Trading Technologies. His advice for students looking for internships in software? 1) Use your spare time to get additional exposure to different programming languages. “Data structures and algorithms are useful for interviews, but pragmatic skills are also important,” he says. And 2) Cast a wide net when searching for opportunities. “I think the most effective strategy for finding internships is searching in several different places.”

This summer, I interned at a company called Trading Technologies. TT makes a cloud-based platform for futures trading, which it sells to trading shops and banks. I completed a 12 week software engineering internship in the Chicago office. I was placed on the Diagnostics Team, which is responsible for developing a suite of applications to monitor and diagnose issues within our system.

I learned about this internship by searching on LinkedIn. I submitted my resume and went through a phone screen. The second round consisted of a video call with an engineer. The interview involved both conceptual questions and coding. I chose Ruby as my language for the interview because I was most comfortable with it. TT’s process went very quickly, and they were the first offer I received. I liked the company so I accepted the offer right away and declined to move forward with the other companies I was interviewing for.

My projects mostly centered around building features for one of our applications. The app I worked on had a JavaScript-heavy front-end that communicated with an API written in Python. I got to work on several new features, including a tool to simulate network traffic for testing purposes, as well as a feature for automatically scaling AWS instances depending on the workload of the app.

I learned a lot during this internship. First and foremost, it gave me some valuable technical skills (such as knowledge of Python, Backbone, Chef, the AWS stack, etc.) These technologies are commonly used in the industry, so I definitely feel like this internship has helped build out my skill set. Second, the internship gave me a good background on futures trading. Part of our training involved an explanation of trading strategy and the financial mechanics that underlie futures, which I found very interesting. TT even ran a trading competition among the interns (which I won!).

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Job searching while in short-term master’s programs

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By Brett Boettcher, NCA associate director of professional program strategy & management, serving students in the School of Professional Studies and master’s students in The Graduate School.

BrettWelcome to Northwestern Career Advancement’s (NCA) international master’s student blog series.  This series is designed to provide international master’s students with career information and strategies.  Find our previous posts here.  This blog series is a collaboration between NCA and The International Office.

New graduate students entering short-term master’s programs can have a number of concerns. Some are thoroughly engaged in pursuing scholarship and classes, while others are considering their career options beyond Northwestern – will they seek a job with a new employer or seek a new role with their current employer?  If your case is the latter, you are likely wondering how you’ll manage your job search and your program. Short-term programs will require you to be planned and motivated. The extra challenge will be if you are a new international student. The adjustment to the US and Northwestern can complicate job options and searching. The intention of this blog is to provide international Master’s students, who are in short-term programs, with a strategy to manage job searching while at Northwestern.

Note: For this blog, “short-term master’s programs” refer to those whose duration lasts 12 to 18 months.

Consider Your Job Search Plan
If you have already met with your career adviser and developed a job search plan, then make sure that you are following your plan and are achieving your goals. Meet with your career adviser frequently to stay motivated. If you have not developed your job search plan, it is strongly suggested that you meet with a career adviser as soon as you can. Your career adviser at Engineering Career Development, Medill Career Services, EPICS, or NCA will assist you to create a customized job search plan that is unique to your situation and interests. A planned job search will mean a more efficient, effective, and less stressful search. You will better understand what to do and when and what resources and strategies will best fit your search.

Meet with Your Academic Adviser Regularly
Your Academic Adviser and/or department can be a great support during your job/internship search as they can provide program-specific information and resources. Some programs offer listserv or LinkedIn groups for information and networking. Ask about any alumni resources for networking!

Understand Recruiting Cycles
During your planning meeting with your career adviser, make sure that you have a discussion on the hiring style and cycles that align with your industry of choice. Not all industries or recruiters hire right away in the Fall Quarter, but it is important that you get accurate information on when your industry hires. This discussion will drive much of your job search. Furthermore, your career adviser can suggest strategies and resources that are helpful for your industry of choice.

When to Start Job Searching
If you are in a short-term program and if recruiting for your industry of choice does not follow a spring hiring cycle, it is advised that you start the job search process at the beginning of your program. This of course can put you in a challenging position since you may be just starting to learn the skills that the employers you are applying to are seeking. Your career adviser can assist you with your resume, LinkedIn profile, and elevator pitch to make sure you are in the best position you can be in based on your unique experiences. Your academic adviser/department can also inform you on helpful strategies that have been used by other students from your program.

Do I want an Internship?
Internships can be another option for international students to gain practical experience in their industry of choice. If you are in a short-term program, you should consider your options carefully. Depending upon your industry of choice, it may be that you will need to search for an internship at the same time you are searching for a full-time job. For technology jobs for example, the full-time job search can run from early Fall Quarter to early Winter Quarter, while the internship search can start in October and can last until February. It is advised that you meet with your academic adviser or department so that you can give careful thought to your academic plans – you may need an extra quarter for your internship.

Additional Steps
As you complete the first quarter of your short-term program and begin your job/internship search, there are a few things to complete:

  • Create and have your resume & cover letter reviewed
  • Talk about networking and learn to use resources with your faculty and advisers
  • Learn about career-related programs and events specific to career service offices and your academic department
  • Follow your plan to make your search manageable

Views from the Cube: FCB Chicago

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Agustin Chacin (Bienen ’17) is a music education major pursuing a certificate in integrated marketing communications and a minor in business. This summer, he interned at FCB Chicago. Following graduation, he will be starting his career as a Consulting Analyst at Accenture in Chicago. His career interests include working in education and business.

Where did you intern this summer? Describe your internship role.

I interned at FCB Chicago in the New Business team. It was a fantastic learning experience, as the new business team in an advertising agency works with all the different departments in order to pitch to prospective clients and identify new opportunities. Everyday was different: one day, I was a production assistant in a video for a prospective client. On some days, I researched prospective clients and did in-depth industry analyses, and consistently, I supported the logistics of creating pitches. FCB has had some major business wins in the past year, in no small part due to the hard working, talented, and intelligent people in the new business team- it was truly an honor to get to work with them!

How did you learn about your internship? What was your internship search and application process like?

Last summer, I came to NCA asking for advice on how to get an internship at an advertising agency. I knew interning at an agency would give me a hands-on marketing education of today’s best practices that would supplement what I’ve learned in the classroom. My advisor at NCA introduced me to a recent NU alum who was working at FCB Chicago, and after an informational interview at FCB’s office on the Mag Mile, I came away with more knowledge about the agency life and in which roles I was interested.

Before the school year started, I went on NCA’s Marketing Career Trek in New York City last summer, which was my first time in NYC! We even got to visit FCB’s New York office, which in no doubt helped me know more about the company, and got me excited to apply to work there.

In the fall, I met a recruiter from FCB at NCA’s Career Fair, and I mentioned the conversations I had with people who worked at the agency, what I liked about the agency after my visits to the NYC and Chicago offices, and about which roles I was interested in. A few weeks after applying on CareerCat, I followed up with the campus recruiter, and then after interviewing with a few members of the new business team, I got my offer in early December. What’s unique to FCB Chicago is that they recruit fairly early for some positions, while most marketing jobs and agencies tend to recruit in late Spring.

What were some of your biggest accomplishments?

I had the great opportunity to present to different groups of people throughout my internship. Whether it be presenting research on a brand’s competitors to the creative and strategic partners working on a pitch or presenting to members of the C-Suite during FCB’s intern pitch project, I really got to flex my public speaking chops, which was a lot of fun.

What advice do you have for students pursuing internships in this field?

One of the best ways to make connections or create warm leads with companies is to reach out to alumni and hear about their experiences. During my summer at FCB Chicago, I reached out to Northwestern alums who currently worked at FCB, and they were very excited to chat with a current NU student. Even people who were 5-6 years out of school were excited to hear about how NU has changed and the clubs/groups with which I’m affiliated.

Above anything else, do your homework on a company. If you ask great questions and are excited about the opportunity, you will stand out. One of the biggest frustrations for recruiters is talking to students in career fairs who don’t know anything about advertising or what being an account manager is like. Showing an understanding of the industry and an opinion on best practices will make you stand out from applicants who haven’t done their homework.

 

Beyond a Job Board: Incorporating Additional Strategies into your Internship & Job Search

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maggieBy Maggie Smith, NCA assistant director of student career advising, serving students in Weinberg.

During any internship or job search, strategy becomes an important question. Where will you search? How do you find what you’re looking for? Where else should you be looking?

For many students, the most common response tends to be online internship/job search sites or databases. Most students begin their search by identifying relevant postings online.

Many employers post positions on a variety of search sites in an effort to increase visibility and collect a larger number of applications. Some internship/job search sites and online databases are specific in what they offer and/or who is able to access their postings (i.e. Idealist or USAJOBS). Other online databases are more general; they post internships and full-time positions across a variety of industries and are open to anyone (i.e. LinkedIn or Indeed).

CareerCat is Northwestern’s internship and job database. Employers across a variety of industries post positions in CareerCat to encourage Northwestern students and alumni to apply.

Postings are a logical place for students to begin their searches for several reasons:

  • The employer is looking for interns or full-time hires; if the employer posted a position, they’re likely ready to review applications and make a hiring decision.
  • You can find what you’re looking for; online databases typically allow you to indicate your specific criteria (industry, location, position type, etc.) so you can apply for what interest you most.
  • The position description is often provided; you can review job responsibilities, qualifications, and necessary skills before choosing to apply.
  • There are clear application instructions; employers will typically specify within their postings how and when they want candidates to apply.

Identifying opportunities online through internship/job boards and databases is a great place to begin your search, but it shouldn’t be the only strategy you implement.  Why not just apply to online postings?

  • Although you can find postings relevant to most industries, some industries rely more heavily on search sites and databases than others. Further, some industries might not use this method at all. You might not always find what you’re looking for if this is your only method of searching for opportunities.
  • Some employers prefer not to receive a large number of applicants or share their opportunities too widely, so they may avoid search sites and databases in favor of a more tailored approach.
  • Positions posted on search sites sometimes get a large number of applicants; you might not always hear back following an application or receive an automatic reply.
  • Students often begin their search with postings and spend the most time applying online, but it is not the method used most often by employers to identify potential talent.

So, what else can you do? You might be wondering what options you have beyond reviewing internship/job boards and databases and applying to positions online. NCA encourages students to incorporate the following, additional strategies into their internship or job search:

  1. Source Employers

Employer sourcing involves researching potential companies in your industry of interest in order to target and pursue specific opportunities. Many employers only post opportunities on their own websites in an effort to identify the right candidates; these employers might not utilize search sites or online databases.

This is a proactive, tailored approach to your internship or job search and might involve the following steps:

  • Develop a comprehensive list of employers that you already know of and those that surface in your research.
  • Visit the website of each employer on your list to learn about current opportunities.
  • Apply to specific openings on the company’s website.
  • Think longer-term; there might not be positions posted the first time you look, so consider establishing connections within the organization in anticipation of future opportunities.
  1. Network
    Networking is the most effective search strategy and the one used most by employers. From an employer perspective, networking allows a recruiter to more easily identify high-potential candidates. As a student, networking provides you with an opportunity to develop contacts, learn about specific employers, and share information regarding interests and opportunities. Networking can allow both employers and students to more easily identify the right fit.

Employers often begin their search for potential candidates with networking and it is frequently where they spend most of their time. Students should consider making networking a significant part of their internship/job search to better align with employers’ strategies.

Networking is valuable across any industry or with any employer. Some employers, however, rely completely on networking to fill positions. If they have a position available, they utilize their networks to share opportunities and identify potential talent; they might never post a position at all, even on their own site. This is especially true within creative industries like media, communications, advertising, and entertainment.

A successful internship or job search involves a combination of identifying opportunities online, sourcing employers, and networking. You can’t rely completely on any one strategy. Think broadly about your approach and consider building upon your existing strategy to better position yourself for success. Your NCA career adviser can assist you in developing a strategy to best fit your industry of interest; set up an appointment to get started!

Views from the Cube: National Association for Community Health Centers

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Laura (SESP ’17) spent her summer supporting advocacy initiatives at health centers with the NACHC.

Laura Hefner (SESP ’17), a social policy major, interned at The National Association for Community Health Centers (NACHC) this summer. She is interested in pursuing a career in public health.

Where are you interning this summer? Describe your internship role.

This summer, I interned with NACHC in their department of Grassroots Advocacy. As an intern, my duties included developing resources to promote advocacy initiatives at health centers, supporting time-sensitive advocacy requests to the advocacy network, assisting in the planning of National Health Center Week, and collecting and organizing health center advocacy best practices through direct outreach to health center advocates.

How did you learn about your internship? What was your internship search and application process like?

In the summer of 2015, I completed my SESP practicum (a quarter-long required internship program for all SESP students) in Washington, DC, which I really enjoyed. I knew that I wanted to return to DC for summer 2016, so I got an early start on the application process for public health internships in the DC area back in January. I reviewed the information on the SESP website about internships other students have done, but I also went online and looked up as many public health internships in Washington DC as I could find. Because the DC area is competitive for summer internships, I sent out over 20 cover letters and resumés. I also interviewed for a couple positions in Chicago as well. I had five interviews for DC positions and was hired after two phone interviews with NACHC. My first phone interview at NACHC was with their internship coordinator and the second was with the director of the Grassroots Advocacy department, the division I was applying for, as well as with the directors of a few other departments. Several of the internships, including NACHC, required a writing sample along with my resumé and cover letter. The application process was arduous but well worth the effort. Even after I accepted the position, I still heard back from several programs.

What were your main internship responsibilities, from daily tasks to bigger projects?

Every day, I helped out with approving local events for our annual National Health Center Week celebration. I also organized submissions for the National Health Center Week picture and video contest and made sure that all submissions complied with contest rules. I wrote a few blogs for their website about individuals selected as Outstanding Advocates of the month, created a couple infographics, and wrote a couple one-pagers for their website. I worked on two big projects at the end of my internship: One was a podcast about engaging individuals in the health center movement, and the other was a final presentation for the entire department on training and adult learning principles. In between the writing and bigger projects, I also was asked to do other smaller jobs on an as-needed basis, like data entry.

What have you enjoyed most about your internship?

NACHC arranged for all of the interns to visit three health centers in the DC area in June and July. These visits gave me the chance to see in-person how the work I am doing at NACHC impacts the work being doing on the ground.  I have also especially enjoyed writing the blog posts highlighting the outstanding advocates in the health center movement. It has been inspiring for me to hear about the work that these individuals have been doing for the health center movement and to see how passionate they are about health centers.

What advice do you have for making the most out of an internship?

If you have the chance, conduct informational interviews with other staff members in your office. I found this to be invaluable in learning about topics that I was interested in but not directly working on through my internship projects. I would also say to try and go above and beyond what is asked of you in the office. Your supervisors will appreciate your extra effort and they will go out of their way to make it a rewarding experience for you. Finally, if it’s not offered to you, feel free to ask your supervisors for feedback on your internship performance. This is the only way you will know if you’re meeting their expectations, and if there is anything you need to change.

Views from the Cube: Argonne National Laboratory

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16-0209-06-hrEugene Wu (WCAS ’17), a physics and mathematics double-major, interned at Argonne National Laboratory this summer. Eugene is interested in hardware design and computer engineering.

Where did you intern this summer? Describe your internship role.

This summer I interned at Argonne National Laboratory as a part of the Lee Teng Undergraduate Fellowship in Accelerator Science and Engineering, a 10-week joint internship between Argonne and Fermilab. I was paired with a mentor to work at the Advanced Photon Source (APS), a synchrotron-radiation light source at Argonne. My project for the summer was to explore the viability of migrating low-level radiofrequency (LLRF) systems at the APS to a microTCA platform (a hardware specification).

How did you learn about your internship? What was your internship search and application process like?

I learned about this internship from the Fermilab website, which lists all of the research/intern opportunities that they offer. The application requires two letters of recommendation and an essay, but there was no interview. There were about 120 applicants this year, with 10 being accepted into the program.

What did you enjoy most about your internship?

During the second and third weeks, all of the interns attended the US Particle Accelerator School in Colorado (free of charge). In two weeks, we took an originally semester-long course on the fundamentals of particle accelerators. We spent about 12 hours a day attending lecture, doing labs, and completing homework. I loved this opportunity because it gave an overview of all of the aspects and theory of particle accelerators that my specific project alone would not be able to cover.

Other than that, we also went on tours at Argonne, Fermilab, and the University of Chicago to learn more about physics and graduate school.

What were your main internship responsibilities – from daily tasks to bigger projects?

The primary goal of my project was to use an FPGA and some hardware to perform noise suppression on baseband (low frequency) electrical signals. I spent weeks three and four getting acquainted with the relevant hardware, the set-up of the lab, and what exactly needed to be done for the project.

After getting a grasp of how the design would work, I began coding the design using VHDL. My mentor would give me different requirements that the design would have to meet, and I would adjust the code to accommodate. After the initial design process, the vast majority of my time was spent testing and debugging my design. At the very end, I had a little time to collect and analyze some data in MATLAB.

For the last two weeks of the internship, I spent most of my time on the final presentation and paper. I presented my findings in a talk at Argonne National Laboratory and at a poster session at Fermilab. I also submitted a final paper on the last day of the internship.

SIGP Views from the Cube: Teaching English w/ Come on Out – Japan

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David interned in Tokyo, Japan, teaching English to students at Toshin High School.

David is a rising Junior (’18) in Weinberg majoring in psychology and minoring in Asian Languages with a concentration in Japanese. As part of the Summer Internship Grant Program, David interned in Tokyo, Japan as an English teacher and mentor at Toshin High School, a preparatory school network for university entrance examinations in Japan. In the future, David hopes to be a physician assistant, but is also very interested in education.

This summer I interned in Tokyo, Japan at Toshin High School for six weeks. Using a one-week long curriculum developed by the Toshin company, I taught English and mentored different students every week. A large focal point of the program was having the students develop an idea of what their missions in life were by exposing them to a large range of studies that we, the interns, engaged in. While one week may seem too short of a time to make a difference, by the end of the week I witnessed students give incredibly impressive presentations on their life missions. Through an examination of global and local issues, students not only developed critical thinking skills, but also grew in self-confidence and motivation. They didn’t just discuss problems, they also presented their own ideas on how to solve them and explained how others could contribute.

Luckily enough for me, this internship was delivered straight to my email inbox by the Japanese listserv. While I interned for Toshin, the name of the internship program was “Come On Out – Japan.” To apply, I submitted a 3-page written application and then had two interviews through Skype over the course of two months. I received notification of my acceptance in early February and decided then to apply for SIGP.

As cheesy as it sounds, I take a lot of pride in knowing that I was able to change many of my students’ opinions on English, and learning in general. Reading a lot of their initial thoughts, I know that many of them felt scared and intimidated by an environment in which they could only speak English. The Japanese education system is worlds apart from the American one. Many of my students were content to stay silent during activities because they felt that what they had to say was either wrong or that they wouldn’t be able to properly convey their ideas in English. Trying to shift them away away from that perspective was a huge goal for me and I was very happy to achieve it. My students learned to take ownership of their education, to speak up when they were confused, and to ask questions when they felt curious. English is a difficult language to learn, but the most difficult hurdle to get over is one’s own inhibitions. Once they achieved this, they could tackle any problem that came at them.

While I certainly enjoyed teaching my students, what I enjoyed the most was my independence in a foreign country. Everyone should take a chance to leave their comfort bubble at least once. Going to a country that you’ve never been in before, alone, and trying to navigate life there has been such a frustrating but rewarding experience. My internship gave me a lot of freedom outside of work and I took advantage of every free moment to broaden my horizons. And because of that, I was able to foster many lifelong friendships and unforgettable memories.

SIGP Views from the Cube: Summer Teaching Fellow w/ Breakthrough Collaborative

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Simran Chadha is a third-year student majoring in Communication Sciences and Disorders in the School of Communication at Northwestern University. She is a member of the class of 2017 and plans to matriculate to the Feinberg School of Medicine after graduation as part of the Honors Program in Medical Education. This summer, Simran interned as a Summer Teaching Fellow for Breakthrough Collaborative, Greater Boston.

After finishing a challenging year of organic chemistry as part of my pre-medical coursework, I was more than surprised to find out I would spend the duration of my summer teaching even more chemistry to middle schoolers. For me, education, teaching, and chemistry were never in the “ten year plan”. However, with the help of SIGP, I was able to explore education as a newfound passion in the form of working as a Summer Teaching Fellow for Breakthrough Collaborative in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Breakthrough Collaborative is an educational non-profit organization that provides a supportive and rigorous summer program for underserved students across the country. Breakthrough has a two-pronged mission, one, to excite and engage students otherwise unsupported by American education systems, and two, to give college students interested in education a real and challenging exposure to teaching as an occupation. Practically, this fellowship manifested itself in the form of long 7 AM – 6 PM work days, followed by late nights of lesson planning to teach two classes, of seven students each, the scientific method, atoms, elements, and acids and bases, among countless additional topics.

I spent my summer honing my skills in working with and teaching younger students with a team of approximately thirty other college-aged teachers. Beyond this, I was exposed to the crucial intersection of social justice and education in my classroom, daily. The Breakthrough student body is comprised of students of color, students receiving free and reduced lunch, single parent households, and potential first generation college students. My students’ backgrounds played a considerable and undeniable role in their performance in classroom settings. Working near a major city, in a summer filled with politics flying surrounding police brutality, I learned how to make Breakthrough a space where students could engage with the world around them in an academic way. We planned events outside of the classroom that allowed students to explore concepts of gender, race, and identity, and engaged students in topics relevant to them and their history. While I worked to make my chemistry class as applicable to the real world with experiments, I also created spaces for dialogue about ongoing world issues and helped students express themselves in constructive ways. I watched as students wrote persuasive essays about Black Lives Matter and performed poems about larger systems of oppression. Breakthrough fostered a safe community where students studied relevant topics and were enthusiastically supported by a teaching staff that genuinely cared. My late nights of work were filled with not only lesson planning, but also text messages and phone calls from students struggling with homework, who I then supported and advised even after work hours. Breakthrough was more than summer school – it was a community.

Leaving this experience, I have discovered new directions I want to take my future career. While I still hope to become a physician, I am sure I want to work with younger children, and explore the intersection of social justice with medicine. Further, my relationships with students this summer have inspired me to pursue mentorship opportunities with younger students in my local community. Overall, SIGP afforded me an unforgettable summer of learning, caring, and teaching.

SIGP Views from the Cube: Spark!Lab at the National Museum of American History

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img_3009Abigail Kutlas (SESP ’18) is a Learning Sciences major at Northwestern. She enjoys studying education, especially teaching best practices, and plans to pursue a career that aligns with those interests. Abigail is a 2016 Summer Internship Grant recipient.

This summer, I was an intern in Spark!Lab, which is part of the National Museum of American History in Washington, DC. Spark!Lab is a hands-on invention space geared toward six- to 12-year-olds and their families. There are activity tables throughout the space that present problems centered on a theme (right now, it’s “Planet”) and give them materials to create an invention that might solve the problem (like something to take plastic out of the ocean). My two fellow interns and I were asked to complete individual projects related to family engagement, and we also spent about half of the time working directly with the visitors in Spark!Lab. Being out in the space allowed us to try out engagement techniques, test the different activities and get feedback on how accessible or intuitive they were.

When I was hunting for summer internships, I knew I wanted a unique experience that would be difficult to replicate through my extracurricular or volunteer work. I Googled “Smithsonian internships” on a whim and did some research before deciding to apply for education-focused internships at four museums. The National Museum of American History had internship positions in almost every department and the website was a little confusing, so I ended up calling the intern manager and talking to him about my options and application materials.

I am really proud of the way my family engagement project turned out. I worked with the Smithsonian’s Office of Accessibility to create sensory kits for Spark!Lab. The kits include resources like visual schedules, sensory tip sheets and fidgets, and they’re designed to help our visitors with sensory processing disorders and intellectual disabilities feel more comfortable in the space. My mentors were really excited about the idea of making Spark!Lab more welcoming to all families, and they are now looking for ways to take my project further and make our space more accessible to visitors with physical disabilities. The woman I worked with in the Office of Accessibility said Spark!Lab is the first space in any of the 19 Smithsonian units to have permanent accessibility resources available, and I am really proud for having had a hand in starting that.

I’m thankful that I got my first taste of the museum world at one of the most respected museums on the planet. A career in museum education can take many forms, and my mentors in Spark!Lab were so supportive as I explored those options through informal interviews with them and other Smithsonian employees. Although I’m not sure I’ll pursue a career in the museum field, this internship taught me to look at education through so many different lenses – lenses I can carry into any future job I have shaping tomorrow’s leaders and innovators!

SIGP Views from the Cube: Prague Shakespeare Company

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The Prague Shakespeare Company’s theatre, where Alex spent most of his days this summer.

Alex Jackson (SoC ’19) is a Sophomore Theatre Major in the Musical Theatre Certificate program, seeking Dance and Chinese minors. With SIGP’s help, he interned this summer at the Prague Shakespeare Company as a part of their Summer Shakespeare Intensive, moving toward his goal of becoming a professional actor, either in the US or abroad.

I took my summer internship abroad this summer by living in Prague, the beautiful and storied capital of the Czech Republic, and studying Shakespeare with the Prague Shakespeare Company. I spent my days taking masterclasses with theatre artists from Prague Shakespeare and from around the Czech Republic, while I spent my evenings rehearsing for the Prague Shakespeare Company’s professional production of Shakespeare’s Love’s Labours Lost, in which I performed at the end of July.

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The group studying with Alex in Prague.

I came across the program in January through beloved Northwestern professor Linda Gates, resident performance voice guru at NU. She was to teach voice and speech at the Prague Shakespeare Company in the summer, and recommended that I apply for their pre-professional experience. In order to secure a position, I completed an application and resume, wrote a personal statement, and attended an audition where Guy Roberts, Artistic Director and Founder of the Prague Shakespeare Company, assessed my skills at performing Shakespeare before arriving at an admissions decision. After having my audition accepted, there were travel, housing, and other details to arrange with Prague Shakespeare, then I was on my way.

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Alex (SoC ’19) by the Vltava River in Prague.

This experience was a first for me in many different ways. Before Prague, I had never been abroad and had never been a part of a professional theatre company. I learned how to manage myself as an artist in a professional setting, all the while immersing myself in a brand new culture. My internship also gave me insight into the inner workings of a professional theatre company, invaluable information for any aspiring actor. Additionally, I got to witness the theatre scene in the Czech Republic and have discussions with other American or British actors about what “The Business” is like in Prague and how to thrive in it as an expat. Without my summer in Prague, I would never have known that acting abroad professionally was within my grasp. In the end, this experience and knowledge was the most impactful takeaway from my time across the Atlantic. My universe of possibility as a creative professional was expanded in ways I never thought possible – emboldening me to make my dream of acting professionally a reality.

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The view of the city from Prague Castle Gardens.