While many students stuck around Gunnison for the summer, others returned to the Western Colorado University campus last week following lifechanging experiences — including internships across the country.
Whether working on Capitol Hill alongside federal lawmakers, serving on an oil rig for a petroleum company or working behind the scenes in sales, opportunities to gain experience in the real world took Western students far and wide.
For Maeve Poulson, her summer consisted of interning on the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions for Wyoming Sen. Mike Enzi. Poulson is majoring in political science with an emphasis in global studies and a minor in pre-law.
She spent her time at Capitol Hill going to meetings, briefings and lectures, and Poulson’s time in the office consisted of researching facts on issues around the country and writing legislation to be submitted to the Senate.
“Professors can only get you so far,” Poulson remarked about how the experience has changed her perception of her major.
Real-world experience over the summer has benefitted Poulson beyond what any textbook or in-class assignment could have given her in four years.
Another internship opportunity allowed Western student Evan Leathers to work as a land intern for Whiting Petroleum Corporation in Denver. Leathers worked alongside the asset team to analyze the legal documents on record, producing contracts and joint-operating agreements.
Leathers also spent two weeks in North Dakota working on an oil rig. He credits this experience as eye-opening due to the fact that it allowed him to see behind the scenes of the operation, instead of just being a part of the document-building department.
Leathers worked on a large project for the company that consisted of reviewing assets and creating a package to be sold off in the next year. This package then had to be connected to the company’s 2020 drilling plan in a specific unit. Unfortunately, the interns were unable to present this project to company leaders because one-third of them were laid off toward the end of the summer.
Leathers is a business administration major with an emphasis in energy management.
“I think that this experience was unique because most students will never see both sides of their industry and build those relationships with both sides,” Leathers said.
Skyeler Smith moved down to Charlotte, N.C. for the summer to intern as a sales associate for a performance plastic distribution company called Polymershapes. The internship consisted of a market research project, general office sales processing and shadowing major company positions like the COO, marketing director and others.
Smith is majoring in business administration with an emphasis in marketing and a psychology minor.
She also shadowed the company’s outside sales representatives, went on multiple business trips and trainings, and spent a day working in the warehouse. Smith also found a couple major customer opportunities for the company’s team to pursue.
While Smith admits it would be a perfect job to take right after college, she does not see it serving her in the long run.
“I want to ultimately work in an industry I’m more passionate about, attend graduate school, work as a business consultant, and eventually start a nonprofit company,” she said.
However, the internship was a stepping stone on the path Smith plans to take after graduation.
“It was also beneficial to experience a full-time office job before I consider a career for my future,” Smith said. “I learned how to be more organized, communicate better and work efficiently.”
(Melissa Leckemby is an intern for the Gunnison Country Times.)