NerdWallet: Faces of Philadelphia's Top Internships
William Black '16 of Harleysville, Pa., and Kailyn Faye Witonsky '16 of Littleton, Colo., are among 18 college students with Philadelphia-based internships profiled by the website NerdWallet.
This past summer, Black, a McCabe Scholar and economics and political science major, worked as a government and external affairs intern at Comcast, which he credits as exposing him to an entirely new side of doing business. “Witnessing how a Fortune 500 company develops a strategy for government and external affairs, and then helping them execute on that strategy," he says, "helped me see an exciting way that my two interests, economics and politics, can intersect in a meaningful and practical way.”
Black notes that the internship was also valuable for the mentorship he received from Bret Perkins, vice president of external and government affairs. The two found time each day to catch up on news and for Black to share how his work was progressing. Perkins also regularly invited Black to attend high-level meetings.
The internship also provided Black a number of challenges, most significantly the volume and pace of work and learning how to balance long-term bigger projects with the last-minute urgent projects that regularly popped up. “When I came to understand how the work I was doing fit into the broader strategic goals of the company," he says, "it became easier to manage and very fulfilling.”
For her internship, Witonsky served as a CRISSP Scholar in the neurology department at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). Witonsky, an Evans Scholar and nueroscience and English literature major, job-shadowed in different disciplines and locations, observed a surgery, attended lectures, and interacted with people of varying backgrounds. She was most surprised by the comprehensiveness of care that goes to an individual patient. “Through this experience,” she says, “I have observed an enormous amount of collaboration across disciplines and seemingly unrelated fields, all for the holistic care of one child.”
A highlight of Witonsky’s internship included her mentorship with neurologist Christina Szperka, whom she describes as having an inhuman capacity to create time. Witonsky admires Szperka’s “willingness to patiently answer questions and provide assistance even if she has a pressing grant deadline and is running off a few hours of sleep. In her, I saw so many qualities that I hope to develop as I pursue my own career in medicine.”
For students looking for internships, Black advises persistence. "My first internship was the result of a failed interview, but I was able to make a connection with my interviewer which resulted in them setting up a meeting for me in another part of the company," he says. "There’s really no harm that can come from simply asking to get involved."