The College of Humanities and Social Sciences encourages students to participate in internships that help them explore career options and acquire real-world experiences. In this Q & A, a student demonstrates the power of proactive research in acquiring internships, and shares how her internship provided new skills, knowledge and insights.
Kelsey Schmitz is a junior majoring in anthropology and history. The internship she has held for almost two years is in an area unrelated to her academic fields of study, yet extremely beneficial for her skill-building and professional development.
1) How did you locate your internship?
I found my internship at Quintiles by word of mouth through a family friend. I applied in spring of 2014 and got a call back for an interview several weeks later.
2) Describe the internship.
Quintiles is a clinical research company with its main office located in the Research Triangle Park in Durham, NC. My current position is with the Business Operations and Capabilities Team. I also work with the Global Aggregate Spend Reporting Team. During the semester, I work about 20 hours a week. I run weekly reports, assist with internal finance audits each quarter, and compile customer expense reports. I have direct communication with project team members all over the world.
3) How has your internship related to your majors and career goals?
Anthropology and history both utilize data and data analysis to support arguments about events, archaeological sites, research questions, and so on. By working at Quintiles, I have had the opportunity to significantly improve my data analysis skills. I have also gotten to see a corporate environment from the inside, which I believe is a very valuable experience for any college student. Through the challenges I have been given in my work at Quintiles, I have found interests and talents within myself.
4) What are some things you learned?
The importance of communication! Quintiles is an international company, so having the ability to communicate successfully with various teams in locations across the world is imperative. Without productive communication within a team, the work itself cannot be productive. Communication is a vital first step to an effective workplace. I’ve also learned how important it is to be confident in your work, your talents and your capabilities. To succeed in a corporate environment, it is essential to present yourself so that your strengths are useful to others.
5) What are some of your challenges?
Some of my greatest challenges relate to time management. I have had to learn how to balance a heavy work load, stemming from being an upperclassman with a double major, and the stressors inherent from an internship that revolves around tight deadlines. However, the benefits far outweigh the costs, and I enjoy coming into Quintiles and being able to use my mind in a different way than I do on days where I have classes. It is important to not overextend yourself, but to take advantage of as many opportunities presented to you as possible.
6) As the internship is not one you would typically expect a history or anthropology major to have, what do you see as its value? What do you feel you offer your employer and co-workers?
I look at my internship as a way to develop important analytical skills that I may not otherwise have gotten to focus on in my studies in history and anthropology. Not only has Quintiles helped me to advance my talents related to data management, it has introduced me to a corporate environment that I now feel comfortable in. As a history and anthropology major, I feel that I bring diverse perspectives to the teams I am a part of. My experience and training in the humanities enables me to approach problems and formulate solutions differently than employees who have other backgrounds.