Back To School 1 - Page 6 - Internship Opportunities Prepare Girls for Future Careers

Back To School 1
- Page 6
Internship Opportunities Prepare Girls for Future Careers
By Emily Parks,
Contributing Writer

Lauren O’Connor knew she was interested in the field of finance for her future career, but wasn’t exactly sure which job position would be a good fit. O’Connor, now a rising senior at Notre Dame Preparatory School (NDP) in Towson, decided to take part in the Women In… (WIN) Career Exploration program starting in her freshman year in an effort to explore her interest in the financial sector.

The Women In… Career Exploration, or WIN experience, places students in career settings so they may explore interests and apply classroom learning to real work and real world experience. Begun in 2006 with a focus on science and medicine, WIN has expanded to include opportunities in business and law.

So far, O’Connor has been able to explore careers in accounting and financial planning with internships at WMS Partners, a wealthplanning and investment firm, the Ciena Corporation in finance, in the accounting department of United Health Care, PNC Bank, and most recently, with RBC Wealth Management, another wealth management firm.

“These internships allowed me to develop an educated opinion about which area I was interested in within the financial sector,” she says.“At first I was interested in accounting, but now I am currently drawn to financial planning and wealth management.” She appreciates the knowledge gained through her internships and credits that experience with helping hone her career plans.

Brian Kroneberger, CFP,managing director and financial advisor, senior consulting Group at RBC Wealth Management and O’Connor’s mentor during her time at RBC, appreciates how an internship helps students focus their career interests, giving them a “real world sense” of what they like and don’t like about a career field. “I wanted to expose Lauren to what we do on a daily basis, to give her a taste of a normal day to help her determine if she is interested or not,” he says. He also values introducing more women into the field of financial planning. “Many young women don’t get this kind of exposure, and I want to show them how exciting this job can be working with clients in an effort to help nudge them into the field of wealth management,” he adds.

Elise Cheek, also a rising senior at NDP, agrees with O’Connor that taking part in an internship helped fine tune her career goals. Her first internship was at a medical malpractice law firm during her freshman year. As many of her family members are lawyers, she thought law might be her career path. But during the internship, she found herself instead drawn to the medical component while listening to doctors speak about medical cases.

She also went on to intern with Dr. Staci Vendelis-Klima, D.D.S., a dentist and member of NDP Class of 1988. During her time with Dr.Vendelis-Klima, Cheek valued watching the dentist fill cavities, pull teeth and seeing a dayin- the-life of a dentist. As a result of her interest in the medical field, Cheek will complete a week-long internship this July with Dr. Lillian Hunter, Obstretrics/Gynecology at Perinatal Associates at GBMC in Towson this summer. Hunter, an alumnae of NDP, participates in the WIN internship program in an effort to give back to the school that she says did so much for her journey in becoming a physician.

She agrees with the importance of obtaining a real world sense of a career sooner rather than later. “A career path in medicine to me is more of a calling than a profession,” she explains. “It is critical that young women have the opportunity to see themselves in this profession to see if it is a right fit for them. Observing a live birth and watching me interact with patients are experiences I would like young women to see themselves doing one day in their future.”

During her time at the law firm, Cheek was surprised and at first, nervous, by the amount of responsibility she was given as an intern. She often took notes for the lawyers and typing them up for review.“I was nervous about making sure the notes were correct and having this responsibility in a professional environment,” she says. “But taking on this task and going outside of my comfort zone helped build my confidence.”

Emma Wang, class of 2019 at Roland Park Country Schools, agrees the responsibilities she received during her summer internship at the Institute of Marine and Environmental Technology (IMET) helped build her confidence thereby honing her leadership skills. IMET is a joint University System of Maryland research institute that builds on the strengths of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and the University of Maryland, Baltimore.

Scientists at IMET conduct marine and environmental research and thereby create technologies designed to foster the protection and restoration of coastal marine systems and their watersheds, sustainable use of their resources and improvement of human health.

Wang worked under her mentor, Gerardo Vasta, Ph.D., professor and IMET faculty member. As a member of his laboratory team, she researched the effect of protein on the innate immune system of oysters. She was given more responsibilities than she expected, as she was often performing experiments on her own and wrote her own lab reports. If she had a question, she became comfortable seeking out a lab assistant to review her work. “My newly acquired lab skills helped me in AP Biology this year as I was already familiar with many lab tools and measurements,” she adds. This confidence has also made her more comfortable leading lab experiments at school. These skills will serve her well when she starts her freshman year at Princeton University this fall. She looks to pursue her interest in neuroscience and continue lab research.

Wang encourages student interns to make the most of an internship experience. “Pursue a field in which you have an interest, not just to put it on a college application,” she says.“If you are interested, you will be engaged in the work. Ask lots of questions as the mentor really wants you to learn. The internship is what you make of it, so if you bring a positive, read-to-learn attitude, you will have a positive experience.” •

Above left: Elise Cheek (far right), a ri ing senior at Notre Dame Preparatory School in Towson, at her internship with Dr. Staci Vendelis-Klima, DDS, a dentist and member of NDP Class of 1988.
Above right: Lauren O’Connor, a rising senior at Notre Dame Preparatory School in Towson, pictured here with other interns at Ciena. (She is under the “E.”)