South students seek internships to prepare for careers

Sam Weinberg, staff reporter

With academic pressure mounting and workplace competition on the rise, South students are pursuing a wide variety of internships in the Glenview area from which they hope to not only gain valuable work experience, but also an easy-going introduction to the workforce and, occasionally, a few bucks along the way.

Seniors Michelle Barsukov and Athanacia Papoutsis research renewable energy and applications of graphite for American Energy Technologies Company (ATC) in Arlington Heights. In addition to working on classified government research, learning a variety of lab skills and gaining practical work experience, the internship has clarified of their future ambitions.

“Both of us want to go into engineering and honestly there aren’t many engineering opportunities that pay where you actually do [important work],” Barsukov said. “ATC is a small business which means that what we’re doing really matters. And that’s not an opportunity you usually get.”

Students have also pursued non-academic internships. Senior Kate Voss says she learned from her time as a “hospitality management intern” at the Glen Club.

Although the internship led Voss to realize that she does not want to pursue a career in event planning, she says the experience was still worthwhile.

“It was too much busywork for my liking [but] it was a good learning experience,” Voss said. “I’m very glad I did it.”

According to Voss, her responsibilities as an intern included running, and helping to coordinate wedding celebrations. Over the course of her internship she became well-versed with Microsoft Word and Excel.

“I’d recommend it to get yourself out there in the business world if that’s something you’re interested in or if you just want to see what you like and what you don’t like,” Voss said. “Even though it might look like a waste of time to some people, it was a valuable experience to me.”

These opportunities are not only limited  to seniors. Junior Zachary Reiss worked as a research assistant for Bobit Business Media, a multimedia publishing company, the summer after his sophomore year.

“[My internship] taught me how to work towards deadlines,” Reiss said.  “ [My internship did not just teach me] how to necessarily work harder, but [rather] work in a way [where you] know what you have to do [and you know] how to communicate that work, [and] to report to someone with the work that you’ve done.”

“From a work ethic standpoint [the internship] definitely helped,” he added. “I think the value in it—a political internship like that—would be learning more about the process and how about—and how these different political figures campaign and how they run their offices.”

And while Barsukov, Papoutsis and Reiss had the privilege of receiving pay for their time, other students’ drives to aid their prefered political parties superseded a cash desire, according to senior Emily Zimbler, who has spent much of her free time since August volunteering for the Democratic Party of Evanston: Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky and State Representative Laura Fine, respectively.

“I find it really rewarding,” Zimbler said, speaking of her experience petitioning and phone-banking for Democratic candidates.

Like others, Zimbler’s aspirations relate closely to her internship.

“I want to work as a press secretary,” she said. “I don’t really want to be a politician; I want to work for one. I’m majoring in Communications, minoring in Political Science. It’s super manageable and really a good time.”

On the other side of the aisle, senior Austin Sulejmani interned for Republican congressional candidate Bob Dold’s campaign in 2016. Initially “pushed” into the campaign by friends, Sulejmani says he quickly realized that the atmosphere was a near-perfect fit.

“Everyone there was very supportive,” Sulejmani said, referring to his fellow interns as well as campaign staff and volunteers. “I grew with it organically; I wasn’t being pushed.”

Sulejmani says that the experience built character and he applies the phrase “practice makes perfect” to his work with the campaign, citing consistent increases in his level of comfortableness and expertise with the day-to-day rigor of working on a congressional campaign.

His work on the campaign mainly consisted of phone-banking (calling potential voters) and canvassing (knocking on doors).

“Going out of my way to talk to people I’ve never before about something that’s pretty sensitive to most people built up courage for me to not only be more confident in the way that I speak, but also [when it comes to] talking to new people,” Sulejmani said.

According to Sulejmani, there was an ever-increasing intensity surrounding the campaign which grew more prevalent as election day neared. Much to the chagrin of Sulejmani and his fellow interns, Dold was narrowly defeated.

“[When he lost] it was bittersweet,” Sulejmani said. “It was upsetting, but I gained a lot that I wouldn’t be able to gain in a conventional internship where I would be sitting, looking at a computer all day — I gained something that will stick with me for the rest of my life.”