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Internships: experience, contacts, maybe money

September 16, 2013
Erik Van Dusen

Erik Van Dusen

When graduate student and geology major Erik Van Dusen had the opportunity to secure an internship in his field this past summer, he dug in.

Van Dusen had the pleasure of interning in Alabama with IMERYS, a large mining and mineral resources company that has hired some NIU graduates before.

Through his studies, he looks at how fluids move through the Earth and how processes control their movement. He earned a bachelor’s degree at the University of Illinois before coming to NIU to pursue a master’s degree.

“I saw NIU as being a good opportunity for grad students,” Van Dusen said. “It’s affordable, and I’m able to teach undergraduate geology and receive a T.A. stipend while I’m working on my degree.”

Last fall, he opened an email sent by his department about a possible internship opportunity at IMERYS. He was definitely looking for more experience and took the initiative to email the contact and explain what he was working on.

“I was most interested in the job description and structural geology aspect which was what I was studying. The fact that it was paid and a good opportunity to gain more experience also appealed to me,” he said.

Erik Van DusenVan Dusen stayed in Alabama for the three months and lived in a house (all expenses paid) with other workers during his full-time internship.

A typical day on the job included hands-on experience measuring elevations of mine pools and fracture mapping. He also did small lab work and looked for potential hazards to document in reports.

He feels the graduate department at NIU did a great job preparing him for the internship, which gave him the opportunity to meet many new people in the industry and gain new contacts. “Through my degree program I was able to do various types of fieldwork, teach and gain confidence in my work,” he said. “This allowed me to act more independently while working at IMERYS and really put my abilities to the test.”

Van Dusen, who plans to graduate this fall, would like to jump right into geology work. He would like to work either in the oil industry, environmental consulting or in mining.

His advice to other students who wish to secure internships is to be proactive. “Start applying early if you can because some industries who hire for the summer are looking in the fall or spring,” he said. “Also, don’t be afraid to spend money at career expos to find jobs because they really help.”

So, are you next?

NIU Career Services’ Fall Internship Fair is planned from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 22, in the NIU Convocation Center. Admission is free for all students, and preparation help is available.

A workshop on “Navigating the Fairs and Creating Your 30-second Introduction” will take place from 4:30 to 6 p.m. Monday, Oct. 14, at the Barsema Alumni and Visitors Center. The “ABCs of Getting an Internship Workshop,” sponsored by Kohl’s, is scheduled from 4:30 to 6 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 16, in the Regency Room of the Holmes student Center.

For more information, call (815) 753-1641 or email [email protected].

by Chonce Maddox