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Your Best Penn State Internship Experiences

With summer gigs quickly approaching, we asked you, our readers, for some of the best stories of your internships as Penn State students. As always, you didn’t disappoint.

From work opportunities at Walt Disney World to fellowships at Fenway Park, Penn Staters’ internship experiences have been nothing short of remarkable. Here’s a look at the first batch of our readers’ best submissions so far.

Jeffrey Filko

Graduation Year: 1997
Major/Area Of Study: Recreation, Park, & Tourism Management

“I spent the summer of 1996 working for OARS (Outdoor Adventure River Specialists) and living and working on a Guest Ranch near Yellowstone National Park. We were trained and certified as local experts and river guides; I took hundreds of white-water and float trips down through Flagg Canyon, and down into Grand Teton National Park on the Snake River.

In the fall of 1996 and summer of 1997, I got internships at Walt Disney World and spent two semesters working in different roles and learning more about my major. It was amazing, and I made friends for life whom I’m still in touch with. Before I even graduated, Disney called me back and offered me a job, which I happily accepted. Especially since I was graduating in December, it was pretty easy to move to Florida in January 1998. I worked for Disney for eight years and in all of the parks before moving on to other opportunities, and I still have a part-time job at The Rainforest Cafe for fun.

To this day, I keep both of these on my resume, because even if the job isn’t necessarily directly applicable, it helps people to remember me and gives me a chance to engage and get to know them a bit better during an interview. “You’re that guy who was a whitewater guide and worked at Disney, right?!” is something I’ve heard a few times during interviews.

I made friends for life and learned valuable real-world applications of the classes I had been taking. I also met my wife on the job after graduation at Walt Disney World! Even though it was 26 years ago, I still remember it like it was just a few semesters ago.”

Katie Ward

Graduation Year: 2016
Major/Area Of Study: Master’s of International Affairs

“I interned with Boston 2024, which was the organization that was attempting to bring the 2024 Olympics to Boston. My supervisor was 2008 bronze medalist Dan Walsh, and we worked with athletes, trying to get them to support the bid. I also did a lot of work with community organizations to build partnerships with young athletes which could be future Olympians.

I got to go to Fenway to promote the bid and got to wear my boss’s medal all the time. I also got to wear a bunch of gold and silver medals and the 2010 Olympic torch from Vancouver!”

Aaron Rill

Graduation Year: 2021
Major/Area Of Study: Higher Education

“The coolest part of the DDAR (Division of Development and Alumni Relations) internship was working with the College of IST and their development team to find ways to support students. We traveled to Philadelphia to meet with an alumnus of the college, hear his story, and [learn] why he wants to give back. It was so cool to hear how he started at Penn State. Now, he is in charge of a unit at Twitter, but he still cares so much about Penn State and the students that are here.

I got to work with the director of development and see how student scholarships are made and be a part of supporting students through the COVID-19 pandemic financially.”

Julia Spengler

Graduation Year: 2022
Major/Area Of Study: Chemical Engineering

“My coolest internship experience was with Crayola! I was working in their Research and Development facility and was able to see how all of the products I used as a kid were made.

I was able to work on their pets line, specifically the model magic paw print keepsake. The most exciting part is that the product I worked on is now being sold!”

David Marchenko

Graduation Year: 2022
Major/Area Of Study: Applied Data Sciences

“[I] had the chance to intern for Sales and Distribution Strategy at Warner Bros Pictures. [I] got the opportunity to work on release strategies for some high profile movies like ‘The Batman’, ‘Dune’, ‘Elvis’, and ‘Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore’.”

Michael Mitole

Graduation Year: 2023
Major/Area Of Study: Finance

“During the COVID-19 pandemic, I worked as an Orientation Leader for Penn State. At a moment’s notice, the university canceled all of their in-person summer classes and programming, which gave our orientation group two weeks to change all of our in-person programming to a virtual experience — for the first time ever.

At the same time, 2020 was one of the largest classes of incoming students we ever had. Because we did orientation remotely, all students across the Penn State commonwealth were together in our orientation sessions (with only some being strictly University Park sessions). After 10 weeks, I had led 300+ representing over 26 countries around the world. With COVID-19 affecting everyone so differently around the globe, it proved to be an eye-opening experience. I gave a TED Talk about my experience as an Orientation Leader a year later!

I learned about leadership in times of crisis and our team delivered one of the best orientation experiences in Penn State’s history.”

Emma Lombardi

Graduation Year: 2024
Major/Area Of Study: Kinesiology

“I’m an intern for the football team here at Penn State. I want to be an athletic trainer, so I wanted an internship that had something to do with athletic training. We help set up stuff for hydration such as Gatorade/water bottles, Gatorade 10 gallons, water pumpers, and ice chests. We help pass out water and Gatorade to players at practices and games. I am also able to observe the athletic trainers in the training room. It’s really cool seeing the athletic trainers go through rehab exercises and treatment with the players.

The coolest part is working the games. We help set up the Gatorade boat on the sideline and help pass out water and Gatorade to the team on the sidelines. Each intern has a game day duty. My favorites were “referees,” which involved running out on the field during timeouts, “rover,” which was just walking along the Penn State sideline giving the players water and “Gatorade,” and also the locker room, which was when we helped pass out water and Gatorade cups in the locker room before kickoff and during halftime.

Not all interns worked every game, so we received tickets to games we didn’t work which was really nice! I’m interning again this spring and I still love every second of it! I’m also interning again in the fall and I’m so excited to work the games again because it was such an amazing experience, especially working the White Out and Stripe Out! It’s also really nice to not have to worry about getting student football tickets for next season! I have been so incredibly lucky to have this internship and I’m so excited for what’s to come.”


Have a cool internship experience from your days at Penn State that you’d like to share? Submit it to our staff for a chance to be featured on Onward State, too.

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About the Author

Larkin Richards

Larkin is a senior majoring in broadcast journalism. The only words that leave her mouth are "yinz" and "dippy eggs." Luckily, her writing has much more substance than that. As a Steelers and Pirates fan, sports can become a hot debate. Share your thoughts on dogs (specifically Boston Terriers) with her at: [email protected]

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