Peter Chiglinsky '16 is prohibited from divulging too much information about his 2015 summer internship. He has declared his major in foreign affairs with a minor in military leadership and national security, and as part of his plan to help protect American citizens, he is taking an internship with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in Northern Virginia. He will be working with the agency's elite counter-terrorism unit, the Hostage Rescue Team (HRT). The last time HRT accepted any intern from any school was in 2006, and that intern had been a U.S. Navy SEAL.
Chiglinsky is one of 35 students awarded an internship scholarship for the summer of 2015. The Career Education and Vocational Reflection Office manages the program each spring with help from other on-campus departments, including Institutional Advancement and the President's and Provost's offices.
Since 2001 the program has grown from a single endowment fund to multiple funds and endowments that support eligible students. This year, more scholarship interns are travelling to more places, getting a wider variety of experiences and insight that will prepare them for a greater range of successful careers.
Becca Snyder of the Career Education Office estimates about half of the student body pursues internships each summer. These are often key ventures needed to start successful careers. Snyder and her colleagues work with students on
their internships from start to finish.
"We help them with every aspect," she said. "From helping them figure out what they're interested in, to which industry they want to get into, résumés, cover letters, avenues to find positions, networking with established alumni, interview preparation-all of the above." They even help students format their business cards.
Although the Career Education Office helps with all internships, only a select number of the students receive the scholarships. To be eligible, students must have an internship position secured that has a significant educational and professional value. Awards are also based on the student's self-assessment and skill development, expenses directly related to the internship, and demonstrated financial need. After students complete their internships, they must submit reflective papers in which they explain what they learned and how their programs helped prepare them for their prospective careers.
In just four years, the number of scholarship applicants has nearly tripled, and so has the number of recipients. Every summer, more students seek financial help. In the summer of 2012, some 14 students were allocated $25,300 worth of stipends; by 2014 that number had climbed to 21 students who received $34,500; and this year the 35 students were awarded a total of $43,365. Many of those students would have been unable to support themselves during the often-unpaid internships.
Providing financial support to qualifying interns started with the Sears Endowment in 2001. Since then, the Circle Internship Fund and the Charles Wilder Watts, Jr. Endowment have provided additional funds for scholarships. This past year, the Charles D. Robison III '70 Endowment has helped with funding, and the most recent Bruce C. Gottwald, Jr., Fund will soon grow enough to begin producing revenue. For the past two years, the Office of the Provost has also contributed to support the program.
Interest in the program is growing as more students are taking advantage of these career opportunities. More alumni, parents, and friends of the College are recognizing the importance of this program and are stepping forward to help set Hampden-Sydney students on successful career paths.
This summer students have obtained internships in offices of commonwealth attorneys and congressional representatives; international charities; science research foundations; banking and investment corporations; pharmaceutical companies; and sports and entertainment agencies, among others.
Holden McLemore '16 is travelling to the Czech Republic as part of the Fulbright Program, continuing a long-standing tradition at Hampden-Sydney. The purpose of Fulbright is to allow an exchange of thoughts, opinions, and mutual knowledge about cultures and institutions. McLemore will be teaching classes at schools in and around Prague. These classes will help college-age students become more familiar with United States culture and the English language. It is all part of McLemore's plan to enter politics-he has had experience working on campaigns and with his congressman in the House of Representatives, and now his opportunity in Prague is allowing him to work with another culture through the U.S. embassy.
While an intern at Christie's in New York, Alex Trivette '16 will be working on the day-to-day tasks associated with the auction process. He will be given opportunities for researching artists and auction items, learning their history and importance, and will have opportunities to attend organized intern events. Trivette hopes to pursue a career furthering the patronage of the arts after graduation.
Michael Mey '16 is majoring in foreign affairs with a minor in environmental studies. This summer he is working as the external relations intern for The Heritage Foundation, a political think tank in Washington, D.C. He will be working on domestic and foreign policy research, formulating briefs and analytical statements, and relaying pertinent information about policies to his supervisor, the vice president of external relations. He will observe congressional meetings and communicate with international parliamentarians and other prominent businessmen, politicians, and lawyers. Mey is pursuing a career in law or politics, and The Heritage Foundation is well suited to teach him skills he'll need.
These are just a few examples of the real-world help these students are getting. As Snyder pointed out, "This [program] is helping the students in a tangible way. I can see it, and they can see it. We can see the immediate results-they are doing some really cool things that will set them up for their futures. For some students, they wouldn't be able to do these internships without this program. "
It's not just the Internship Scholarship Program that the Career Education Office is using to prepare students. It is also continuing to harness the Hampden-Sydney alumni network to connect students to potential employers and competitive internships. Alumni have been generous-mentoring students, hiring interns and full-time employees, and sponsoring or finding intern housing. From this participation sprang the Hampden-Sydney Summer Development Program (HSSDP), a pilot project that groups H-SC interns together with alumni.
The HSSDP was launched with the Atlanta Chapter of the Hampden-Sydney Alumni Association this summer. Qualifying students interviewed with Hampden-Sydney alumni for internships in various fields. During the 10-week program, interns will live together in sponsored housing, receive personalized, one-on-one mentorship from alumni, attend weekly group events, participate in group service projects, and spend time in personal reflection and on professional development. It's a way for experienced Hampden-Sydney men to help guide the next generation to success.
Drew Prehmus '08 developed and refined the endeavor. "We're trying to connect the Hampden-Sydney experience on-campus to the Hampden-Sydney network in the real world," he said. "We are providing students with job opportunities that will help them in their careers while also organizing time for them to learn from and get to know alumni who were in their shoes a few years ago. And we want them to have fun doing it. We hope it will help them after graduation not only with getting their careers going, but also in getting them plugged in with their H-SC brothers, whether or not they end up in Atlanta."
Scholarship recipient Josh Blair '16 and Alex Luna '17 are the first to join the program in Atlanta. Two positions were available for Brand Bank, a family-owned bank based out of Gwinnett County, Georgia. They will be working with and learning from CEO Bartow Morgan '94, helping with finance-related projects and shadowing executives for the summer to learn how the banking and finance industry works. Both hope to work in that industry after graduation.
Meaningful internships are often the starting lines for successful careers. As Hampden-Sydney students transition to professional life, their having strong financial and logistical support from the College and alumni can make the difference between success and failure.
Employers often seek graduates with internship experience, and through the generosity of alumni, friends, and parents, these students are getting much of the support they need. The program is growing, however, as more students recognize the importance of these internships, which often include having to relocate and live by personal expense. But with the continued participation of the Hampden-Sydney community these students should be well-prepared for successful careers.