Wesleyan students are well known for making amazing contributions to the world. Just looking at our list of famous alumni should leave no room for doubt. Though classes can be instrumental in planting the seeds of inspiration, it is often during the summer that students have the time to pursue work experience and figure out how they want to impact their communities. The Argus spoke to various students about how they invested their summers into discovering their passions.
Emma Lucia Llano ’19
The Argus: How did you spend your time this summer?
Emma Lucia Llano: I was a nanny. I was basically in charge of looking after one three-and-a-half-year-old with a condition called CDJ1A, which is a developmental condition that inhibits your ability to speak and use motor skills, or walk that much. I was just there to assist him and do functional things. He could walk with my help and liked to talk, and I was there hanging out with him and taking care of him.
A: What was your biggest challenge?
EL: Patience. For him, the biggest challenge was that he couldn’t communicate things like other three-and-a-half-year-olds could. It was frustrating for him. The hardest thing I had to do was always learn to be more patient. Be patient with him every single day. It was just all about being the most patient person I could be.
A: How has the experience impacted you, and what have you brought back this year?
EL: It has broadened my perspective of Wesleyan and also just the way we view people of different ages. The idea that younger people need to be taught how to do things, disciplined, and reprimanded…I don’t think that’s really true. Most of the conflicts that a lot of people have can be solved through communication and asking solid questions. That worked whether that person was 3-and-a-half years old, 5 years old, or 23 years old.
Shani Erdman ’19
The Argus: What sort of internship or job did you have this summer?
Shani Erdman: This summer I was an intern at a research clinic called Schuster Medical Research Institute located in Los Angeles. It was a super cool experience. It was just doing a lot of data entry, and I learned how to take patients’ vitals, which is cool but it freaked me out a little bit. I was also an intern at the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust. Both were really cool internships.
A: What was a typical day like at the medical research institute and at the museum? What did you learn from the experience?
SE: This clinic worked on how to get medications on the market. Say that they were testing a new medication…they would pay people to participate in their experiment and basically give one person a placebo and another person 10 percent [of the medication] and another person 15 percent, and see the effects. I had no idea how medications get onto the market, so it was really interesting to see that. I was also sad to see how much income relates to health, and how other factors contribute to health. I’ve always been interested in health, so it was cool to not just learn about health in the classroom but also see how a research center worked outside of the brick and mortar of the classroom. I also learned what I don’t want to do in the future. I know don’t I want to go into psychiatry, but it was a really cool experience.
[At the museum] I was basically manning the front desk, teaching people how to use the audio guides, and telling them where different exhibits were at the Holocaust Center. It was really cool because I met a lot of Holocaust survivors that spoke every week. I made really good connections there, and that was the most valuable part.
A: How have those two experiences changed your mindset when entering the next year?
SE: These were really great and really different experiences. Although I don’t know what I wanna do yet career-wise, it did make me really excited about volunteering more and interning more.
Ariel Edelman ’20
The Argus: What was your job or internship this summer?
Ariel Edelman: This summer, I worked at a nonprofit called All Out, which uses the Internet to connect local LGBT activists across the world with resources and connections that they might not otherwise have. Usually that means doing other petitions and fundraisers that All Out runs and gives all those signatures and all that money to local activists. For example, the biggest thing we did was fund Uganda Pride, which was a really big victory.
A: How has your mindset changed, and what have you learned from this experience to bring to your first year at Wesleyan?
AE: It definitely made me thankful for the literal physical safety that a place like Wesleyan offers. It also made me think a lot about queer communities in general, queer activism, and successful methods of queer activism. We ran many campaigns, and some were much more successful than others, even if the person who needed that campaign needed money more. It was interesting to see what we could rally people behind and what we couldn’t. This experience made me think about my activism and what I want to bring to the activism communities I’m a part of.
Jaime Marvin ’19
The Argus: What was your internship or job this summer?
Jaime Marvin: For six weeks this summer, I was overseas as a volunteer on an archeological dig in Ashkelon, Israel. I spent four weeks digging in a Philistine Iron Age cemetery and two weeks digging in a Philistine Iron Age Marketplace, both of which were three thousand years old. I spent the summer when I got home as a copy editor at PC Magazine.
A: What was your typical day like in Ashkelon, Israel?
JM: We would wake up at 4:30 in the morning and have a first breakfast. Then at 5 a.m., we would get a ride to the national park where the archaeological site was (we stayed in a hotel). We would dig continuously until about 9:00 a.m., at which point we would eat a second breakfast. Then we would break again for another short snack. Then we would leave the dig site at 1:00 p.m. and go back for lunch and some free time, and then we would come back to the dig site to process pottery, clean bones, etc. Then we would have a lecture and dinner and collapse into bed.
A: Did you make any discoveries in your dig?
JM: We found the first ever Philistine cemetery ever. It was actually first discovered three years ago, but the discovery was kept under wraps to avoid people protesting the excavations of human remains….As this was the last year of the expedition in Ashkelon, they were able to finally release the news to the public.
A: What have you learned during your summer internships, and how did the experience impact you as you begin a new year at Wesleyan?
JM: The PC internship had really good food. The vending machine had everything for 25 cents. And they had free food on Wednesdays. I brought back some really good pickaxing skills, so I am very strong now. I also brought back different ways of thinking. When you are on an archeological site, you have to think in 3D, spatially, temporally and how things cut into other things, which is this whole other way of thinking than how I think, which is very much based upon writing, reading, and other additional academic pursuits. Also, I’m really swole now.
Nisha Grewal ’17
The Argus: What was your summer job or internship this summer?
Nisha Grewal: I interned at Argus Information and Advisory Services, which is a consulting firm that works with banks and other institutions. Mostly I was coding, using big data to analyze consumer credit card and debit card expenditure to give banks an idea of how consumers spend, and giving strategies as to how they can get their customers to spend more money.
A: What did a typical day look like at Argus?
NG: If there was a certain type of trend we were looking for, I would pull a bunch of data by coding and manipulate a bunch of data in Excel and put it into presentations.
A: What were some of the things you found interesting at the internship?
NG: I’m a physics major and I like coding a lot, so I liked that aspect of consulting. Since it was an economics-based firm, I was able to combine my interests which I really liked. And I love Excel so I really liked that.
A: What have you brought back from your summer internship, and how has this changed you in your senior year?
NG: I definitely feel better about the real world since I kind of know how the application process works since I’ve gone through it. I’ve also given a few students advice on the process, since it is very intimidating and competitive, and it is kind of nice to able to give other people some guidance and reassurance that this is something they can definitely do. Also, it was reassuring to myself because now as I go into the job application process, I feel a little bit better knowing that I’ve done this before, I can do it again, and it’s not impossible.
Alex Lee ’17
The Argus: What did you do this summer? What did a typical day look like at your internship/job? What are your most memorable experiences from the position?
Alex Lee: This summer, I worked part-time at an arts foundation in Manhattan and part-time doing research for a Wesleyan professor. My work at the arts foundation—specifically, the Project Space program at the Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts—consisted of many different types of activities, including redesigning the website, meeting and working with artists, attending the gallery, going on field trips to other galleries/museums, sitting in on board meetings, and conducting interviews. It was wonderful to meet so many artists at the beginning or midpoint of their careers; they were so generous, caring, and even interested in what I do in my own art practice.
As for the research position: I worked on Professor Andrew Curran’s upcoming biography on the French philosopher Denis Diderot. This role meant that I was helping with everything from copy-editing and proofreading to more global editing to research and creating footnotes. An average day might consist of editing the latest chapter, going to the library to find new sources, and writing up suggestions for new ways to approach the work. This was a wonderful experience; I got to see many aspects of the book-writing process and feel as if I had a real impact on Professor Curran’s work.
A: How do you believe your summer experience will impact your final year at Wes? Have you developed new mindsets/mantras over the summer based on your experience? What are they?
AL: This summer I tried working at the arts foundation because I was very interested in arts administration and in the nonprofit world. However, as a result, I’m now more interested in actually approaching it from the other side as the artist. I enjoyed the experience immensely, but I’ve realized I’m happier on the creative side, rather than the administrative/organizational side. So, during my final year, I will be spending much more time (each day, hopefully) working on my own writing and art.