I am so excited to introduce you to three NIRSA student members whose futures are so bright I’m wearing sunglasses while writing this article.
Demitri Lahanas, Facility Manager at East Stroudsburg University; Riley Spenningsby, Park Lead at the University of Central Florida; and Carly Zeiger, Facility Manager at The Ohio State University have a couple things in common. They believe in the beauty of their dreams and acted upon opportunity by completing internships in the field this past summer.
All three made commendable voyages across the country to gain invaluable experience. Demitri moved from Pennsylvania to Oregon to work at the University of Oregon, Riley moved from Orlando to LA to work for the University of California, Los Angeles, and Carly made the move from Columbus to Birmingham for an internship at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
As NIRSA grows—creating a demand for premiere collegiate recreation programs—the quality and quantity of internship opportunities available nationwide is also on the rise. Oregon, UCLA, and UAB have some of the more established summer internship programs available. Each provides undergraduate and graduate students alike with a unique work experience.
“Our goal is to give our 10 interns an experience that challenges them, helps them to learn transferable skills like problem solving and decision making, and finally that assists them in whatever their next career or life step might be,” explains Beth Glazer, UCLA’s Assistant Manager, Student Activities Center. “The program really benefits undergraduates and graduates alike because each intern supervisor tailors their unit program to the needs and goals of the intern. Interns get the opportunity to gain experience in a large university with a large size and scope of programming.” She goes on to say, “We sometimes place interns in positions outside their comfort zone so they can challenge themselves, and they are encouraged to work with as many of our 85 professional staff as possible throughout the summer.”
Let the sources themselves tell you how they found their internships, what they identify as the lasting benefits of the internships, and why they think NIRSA student members should all actively seek internship opportunities.
As the value of the internship experience is rising, I’d like to encourage you to be as proactive as you can in finding one—whether it’s during your free time throughout the school year, during your summer, or as your first step after graduation. Working the connections you’ve made in the field as well as keeping an eye on NIRSA’s Bluefishjobs is a great way to find that relevant internship experience you’ve been looking for.
Take Demitri, Riley, and Carly’s word for it: When opportunity knocks, you better be ready to answer the door!