Editor’s note: This article was updated on Nov. 10 to amend a quote attributed to Mikayla Cleary-Hammarstedt that contained a comment she did not make about the lack of internship opportunities for arts and sciences students.
Though the school year has not yet reached winter, Lehigh students are already looking ahead to how they’ll be spending their summers. Several students enrolled in the College of Arts and Sciences have voiced concerns regarding the difficulties of finding internships relating to their field of study.
Andrea Skimbo, the career counselor for the College of Arts and Sciences, works with 53 different majors.
“On campus, there’s a visual process for engineering and business students when it comes to their internships and this process looks different for CAS students,” Skimbo said. “Employers, timelines and locations all vary. CAS students are not having trouble finding options. They will just be busier in the spring with their applications compared to business and engineering students.”
Skimbo said not nearly as many companies are coming to Lehigh to recruit arts and sciences students because of the nature of the industry. She said this has nothing to do with Lehigh or the students themselves.
Clara Scher, ’19, a psychology major, interned with New York Presbyterian Hospital at the Weill Cornell Medical Center last summer. Scher said she found the internship through her own online search, and her department adviser was instrumental in preparing her for the internship.
“In terms of my department, there is a lot of support with internships, but I feel that career services could do more for CAS students,” Scher said.
Mikayla Cleary-Hammarstedt, ’18, said her department was involved in securing her an internship. This summer, she worked on Lehigh’s Mountaintop campus on a project involving Caring for Cambodia.
Cleary-Hammarstedt said Mark Orrs, the director and professor of the sustainable development program, recommended the internship to her in the spring.
“It is really important to get involved in your classes to a depth in which your professors know you as a person and want to help you achieve your goals,” she said.
Cleary-Hammarstedt also received an Iacocca internship last summer. Iacocca internships are offered exclusively through Lehigh and provide students with the opportunity to work and live abroad, all expenses paid.
Through the Iacocca Internship Program, Cleary-Hammarstedt went to Moldova and interned for Eco-TRAS, a Moldovan nongovernmental organization. She discovered the program on Lehigh’s website.
“Nothing is handed to you, you need to be putting in extra effort to find these opportunities,” Cleary-Hammarstedt said.
Skimbo said the career center is an educational tool just like any other department on campus. She said although counselors can teach students how to find and acquire internships, students still need to pursue opportunities independently.
“We don’t get you a job or summer housing, but we will teach you how to (find) these things,” Skimbo said. “These are skills that will last forever and students need to be able to do this process again in the future and be self-sufficient.”
Skimbo also emphasized that summer experiences don’t have to include “intern” in the title to be valuable.
“There is never one path for an internship, especially in arts and sciences,” Skimbo said. “There’s a lot of flexibility.”
She said internships give students insight on the types of jobs and companies they may want to work at in the future. This insight often helps students decide whether they want to pursue a specific career.
Scher said her internship at the hospital helped to solidify her future goals. She said she would like to continue researching after graduation and ultimately become a therapist at a hospital — a career path discovered through her internship at the Weill Cornell Medical Center.
“Career services has a heavy emphasis on business students and their opportunities, and I wish it was more equal,” Scher said. “(I wish) there were equal opportunities for all of Lehigh’s students, regardless of their major.”
Cleary-Hammarstedt said there are not as many opportunities because companies are not looking to recruit arts and sciences students on campus.
“Arts and sciences students don’t have as many opportunities through career services,” she said, “because arts and sciences jobs aren’t recruiting on campus.”