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Students Benefit from Summer Internships

Students Benefit from Summer Internships

(July 8, 2013) McNeese State University students are discovering the beneficial aspects of internships while working toward a degree.
Taylor Beard (Taylor Beardpictured left), a Grand Lake government senior with a minor in mass communication, and Katelynn McCartney (pictured right), a Sulphur mass communication junior with a minor in government, are interns in U.S. Congressman Charles W. Boustany's Washington, D.C., office this summer.     
During the five-week internship, Beard and McCartney are assisting with a variety of tasks including legislative research, attending Congressional hearings, assisting with press communications and interacting with constituents.
"Internships provide an opportunity for young people to learn about our government and the political process from the inside," said Boustany. "Many of Louisiana's best and brightest have worked for me for a summer or semester in our nation's Capitol and I greatly appreciate their efforts. Their assistance with research, writing, helping constituents and a variety of other functions is invaluable."

Beard is interested in Louisiana's educational system. "Being the first in my family to attend college, I want everyone to have the opportunities that I did," said Beard.

Through this internship, she hopes to gain insight into national and state education issues. Beard plans to attend law school following graduation in December 2013 and then maybe some day enter politics.
McCartney hopes to gain a better understanding of what government is truly about behind the scenes during her internship. After she graduates in 2014, McCartney plans to attend graduate school to study the philosophy of government. "I want to understand a little better about the thought processes of our founding fathers," she said.

Both women are involved at McNeese. Beard is a member of Phi Mu sorority, Pre-law and Politics and the Student Government Association, president of the Federalist Society and is the current Miss McNeese, while McCartney is a SGA senator, a member of the Society of Professional Journalists and the advocacy director for Colleges Against Cancer student chapter.

According to Mary Kaye Eason, McNeese's intern coordinator, "Internships benefit students by providing career-related experience prior to graduation while building a professional network and learning intangible skills which are impossible to teach in a classroom."

Another McNeese student - agricultural sciences major Leann Lucas of Rosepine - agrees with Eason. Last summer, Lucas completed an internship with the Vervet Monkey Foundation, located in Tzaneen, South Africa, that cares for over 500 primates that have been orphaned, injured, abused or are ex-laboratory animals.

"Taking an internship in South Africa proved to be one of the best experiences I have ever had," she stated.

Prior to returning to school, Lucas was a full-time flight attendant and has traveled throughout the world, but she always wanted to see South Africa. Then Lucas chose another career path - to study natural resources conservation management at McNeese while continuing part-time as a flight attendant.

"I decided to go back to school because I wanted to make a positive change in the world and promote, as well as educate people, about conservation management," she said. "I picked McNeese not only because it was close to where I am from, but also because it is a smaller university and I liked the idea of smaller class sizes. This proved to be a great decision because I get the individual attention that I need and feel that my professors actually do care about my education."

Encouragement to travel to South Africa came from one of her professors, who supported her decision to apply for an internship to the non-profit rehabilitation and education facility.

Lucas worked with integrating monkeys into troops at the facility. "These monkeys were either someone's pet or from a rescue center and had never been around monkeys before so it took them a while to get used to the hierarchy system that the Vervet monkeys use."

She credits her hands-on experience with animals at McNeese in preparing her for that part of her experience, "but nothing prepared me for the lessons on human impact, conservation and the areas of the globe that still live without electricity and a constant source of clean water and food."  

This summer, instead of an internship, Lucas is taking two academic courses with the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium program, which teaches students about wetland vegetation and marine ecology. The program's laboratory is located in Chavin, which is about 85 miles southwest of New Orleans on the gulf coast, and she was recommended for the program by two of her professors.

"LUMCON offers field and lab work opportunities - whether through internships or academic credit - that provide students with a unique learning experience," said Lucas. She and her classmates - including students from Tulane University, Nicholls State University and the University of New Orleans - just went out on the 168-foot research vessel, the Pelican, to conduct a variety of oceanographic activities in the Gulf of Mexico.

Lucas hopes to return to South Africa one day to work with wildlife or continue her studies in graduate school after she graduates in 2014.

Eason said that 69 percent of companies with 100 or more employees offered full-time jobs to their interns in 2012, according to a new survey conducted by The survey polled more than 7,300 students and recent graduates, as well as over 300 human resources and recruitment professionals.
"The results show that internships truly have become the 'new interview' in the job search process for students and employers alike," Eason stated.

Intern with monkey
McNeese agricultural sciences major Leann Lucas worked with monkeys last summer as an intern with the Vervet Monkey Foundation in South Africa, which cares for over 500 primates that have been orphaned, injured, abused or are ex-laboratory animals.

Intern next to boat
Leann Lucas, an agricultural sciences major at McNeese, stands in front of the 168-foot research vessel, the Pelican, that takes students out to conduct a variety of oceanographic activities in the Gulf of Mexico through the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium program.