For many West Virginia University students, two paths await them at the end of the academic year.

Some opt for much needed ‘R and R’ and retreat to the beach or their parents’ home.

For others, the alarm clock and a piping hot cup of joe remain staples of their groggy weekday mornings.

These are the students who venture down the path to real-world experience through summer internships – which often serve as a launching pad into a budding professional career after college.

And in today’s competitive job market, nothing looks as good as an internship or two or three on a college grad’s resume, said Rita Sailer, director of the Center for Career Development at the College of Business and Economics.

“It’s becoming more of an expectation,” Sailer said. “Many companies, particularly large, Fortune 500-types, expect recent college grads to have internship experience. I’ve had companies tell me that they won’t consider a new hire if that person hasn’t had an internship.”

Undergraduates in the business school are encouraged to work at least one internship during their stay at WVU, Sailer said. For some master’s programs, such as human resources and industrial relations, summer internships are mandatory.

This summer, the program has students taking on internships at such places as Pepsi, Bayer, General Electric, Marathon Oil, the FBI and Hershey’s.

Several WVU students have secured major summer internships. Here’s a partial list:


  • Samuel Jarrett, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Buffalo, N.Y.
  • Amanda Newpol, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Buffalo, N.Y.
  • Serena Silvaggio, WVU Department of Pediatrics
  • Nelson Raines, Mylan, Morgantown
  • Christopher Horton, KPMG, Washington, D.C.
  • Leigh Ann Wilkins, Northwestern Mutual, Morgantown
  • Mark Andrews, Berer Financial Management, Monroeville, Pa.
  • John-William Blessing, Hill-Rom, Batesville, Ind.
  • Matt Strauss, Northwestern Mutual, Skokie, Ill.
  • Michael Hughes, Mylan, Morgantown
  • Evan Tunink, Deloitte Consulting, Pittsburgh
  • Alex Burke, Chrysler, Auburn Hills, Mich.
  • Alex Griffith, Comcast Network Sports, Philadelphia
  • Stephan Zontz, EXPO TV, New York, N.Y.
  • Leah Homan, U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, Washington, D.C.
  • Rashard Bates, Rice University-Collegiate Consulting, Houston

  • Colin Bailey, University of Florida Athletic Facilities
  • Morgan Billups, Chattanooga Lookouts
  • Dean Polk, Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports
  • Tyler Colton, NACDA
  • Lindsay Toussant, USA Track & Field
  • Amanda Steelman, Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports
  • Patrick Crowe, Philadelphia Phillies

Creative Arts
  • Alex Vazquez, Lexington Children’s Theatre
  • Marissa Kulp, Flatrock Playhouse as the Wig & Wardrobe Crew Chief

Davis Colllege
  • Alexis Halka, Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates Inc., Boston
  • Adam Carte, Harvard’s FAS Center for Systems Biology
  • Julia France, Holland Military Working Dog Hospital at the Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio.

Statler College
  • Maputi Botlhole, Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research
  • Garrett Henry, Chevron, Bakersfield, Calif.
  • Corey Hartley, Kennametal
  • Edward “Richie” Yoho, co-op at Volvo, Hagerstown, Md.
  • Brianna Maze, First Energy, Fairmont
  • Earl Hewitt, Consol Energy
  • Rebecca Posa, U.S. Steel
  • Donnique Sherman, Pacific Energy
  • Ali Kowalski, Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield, Wilmington, Del.
  • Britta McCombie, Mylan
  • Matt McCabe, JLG, Hagerstown, Md.

  • Victoria Ruhl, CMT (Country Music Television)
  • Bryan Bumgardner, American Society of Magazine Editors, New York City
  • Meghan McAllister, Coburn Communications, New York City
  • Lauren Nickle, MLB’s Advanced Media (web, digital)
  • Samantha Runyon, Sen. Jay Rockefeller’s Office, Washington, D.C.

That’s quite a list, and the opportunities aren’t limited to just business students.

There’s no shortage of WVU students who’ve landed high-profile internships this summer; here are some of those stories:

Diane Jeanty

When applying for a job, maybe it’s best to tell your potential employer that you know nothing about their company.

In a sense, that’s what journalism senior Diane Jeanty wrote in a cover letter to National Public Radio.

“I told them, ‘I’ve never listened to NPR in my life’ but because of that, I have fresh ears and can come up with new ideas,’” Jeanty said.

That honesty wooed NPR into offering the Frederick, Md. native a paid internship over the summer.

Jeanty will be the first WVU journalism student to intern with NPR’s national desk in Washington, D.C. In her role, she’ll conduct research, log audio tapes and gather interviews for NPR stations around the country.

Early in the 2013 spring semester, the television broadcast major applied for several summer internships at national media giants such as CNN and NBC. Between then and mid-April, she hadn’t heard a peep, with the exception of a rejection letter from Cox Media Group.

“One day I just sat at a computer and thought, ‘I’m not getting an internship,’” Jeanty said. “I felt so low by the time I got home, I feel asleep and woke up at 6 (p.m.) to see I received an email from NPR.”

Gloom turned to joy.

She credits Gina Dahlia and Mary Kay McFarland at the journalism school for molding her growth as a journalist, and for helping her secure such a respected internship. Jeanty has served as assistant producer and government beat reporter for WVU News, the television newscast produced by journalism students, and has contributed to the West Virginia Uncovered project.

She has also worked on the news staff for U-92 and interned for WHAG-TV in Hagerstown, Md.

Jeanty is confident that her summer at NPR will propel her into a successful journalism career.

“NPR will be a very valuable experience,” she said.

Perhaps it will lead her to her dream job – producing a political talk show, a passion sparked after taking a political science class taught by the now-retired Robert DiClerico.

“Originally, I wanted to be a print reporter,” Jeanty said. “But then I saw the CNN documentary ‘Black in America’ and fell in love with documentaries and broadcasting.”

Alan Didion

Before 1958, NASA did not exist.

Think about it. A little more than 50 years ago, rocket ships and space travel were merely the stuff of science fiction and not reality.

Today, the sky is literally the limit.

Alan Didion is one space enthusiast who doesn’t see just the world in his future. He sees other galaxies.

Didion’s post-college plans involve enhancing the quality of spacecraft, particularly in the fields of spaceplane and spacecraft propulsion.

A Wheeling native studying aerospace engineering at WVU, Didion will likely gain momentum in someday securing that dream job after he interns this summer at the NASA Aeronautics Academy at NASA Ames, Moffett Field, Calif.

He already had his foot in the door with NASA upon entering WVU from participating in various programs of the government agency responsible for the country’s civilian space program.

“The Academy is the most difficult and prestigious of NASA internships,” said Didion, who will graduate from WVU in December. “It focuses on leadership, and academy interns typically behave as group leaders to normal summer interns. I am thankful to have been chosen for the academy, largely due to the support of the NASA West Virginia Space Grant Consortium.”

Didion will work at Ames’ fluid mechanics laboratory with a group of other interns and engineers. He will help design, build and calibrate a new set of nozzles for their anechoic chamber wind-tunnel. Didion describes it as a wind tunnel with a sound proof room full of microphones as the test chamber. The rig is used to measure noise levels produced by bodies in a flow.

“This summer will be my final opportunity to hone my professional and leadership skills before graduation,” he said. “I plan to collect the business card of everyone I meet and visit local aerospace engineering companies in hopes of landing a job. Ames has mentioned that academy interns have a high probability of being hired to return upon graduation.”

His ideal employers are, of course, NASA and SpaceX, a space transport company based in Hawthorne, Calif.

Emily Dearth

According to fashion design and merchandising senior Emily Dearth, “The right outfit can make a person feel beautiful, empowered and confident.”

The right internship can do that, as well.

That right internship may be Dearth’s own, with fashion designer Michael Kors on West 42nd Street in Manhattan. She will work in the accessories design department.

Kors is best known for designing classic American sportswear for women. His designs have been worn by Michelle Obama, Jennifer Garner and Jennifer Lopez.

“A year ago I never would have dreamed that I would be getting ready to move to New York City for an internship at Michael Kors,” said Dearth, a Clarksburg native. “To say the least, I’m looking forward to everything. I’m most excited to see how the design process works at Michael Kors and to see a side of the fashion industry I haven’t seen before.”

Like other students, Dearth doesn’t think her opportunity would exist without the help of involved mentors.

“Without Nora MacDonald, I never would have made it,” Dearth said. “She pushed me and encouraged me at times when I wanted to quit, and at this point in my college career, I truly have her to thank for all of my success.”

MacDonald alerted Dearth about the internship. A fellow fashion design and merchandising student, Andrea Kostak, who interned with the company last summer also helped Dearth secure the internship.

“In fashion design, it is truly all about experience and connections,” Dearth said. “Being an intern at Michael Kors is such a tremendous opportunity to learn and grow as a designer for my future goals.”

Dearth hopes to someday work as a design director for a top design firm specializing in women’s apparel and accessories.

Candice Caldwell Day

Candice Caldwell Day is also working this summer, only it’s not an internship. She has a full-fledged position as a crafts assistant at Santa Fe Opera, one of the nation’s leading opera companies.

But without previous work experience and opportunities through WVU, Day might not be as lucky.

Day, a costume design graduate student in the WVU School of Theatre and Dance, interviewed with Santa Fe Opera while attending the Southeastern Theatre Conference in Louisville, Ky. in March. A year earlier, Day received two awards from that conference – third place in costume crafts and honorable mention in graduate costume design for a furry, pink llama mask she created.

Those awards, in addition to experience working in costume and makeup design for various productions and a visual art internship in Georgia, helped sell Day to her new employer.

Santa Fe Opera’s costume shop employs more than 70 people. She’ll fit nicely into that environment, as she has mastered skills such as stitching, painting, drawing, molding, casting, prosthetics and masks and puppetry construction in her time at WVU.

Not only did her own hard work pay off, but Day specifically credits one WVU professor for helping her flourish.

“WVU’s costume director Mary McClung is a wealth of knowledge and is very versatile with the kinds of work we do in our shop,” said Day, originally from Concord, N.C. “I have learned so much from her and would not have gotten this job without her training.”

At her new job, Day will help lead a team of apprentices on making costume crafts, such as armor, jewelry, masks and shoes. Day will get to work on five operas, including “La Traviata” and “Marriage of Figaro.”

By Jake Stump
University Relations/News



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