Summer internships give Ducks a head start on the job market

Monika Hoke in the Purple company lab

From internships at Nike to work in UO labs, many Ducks spent the summer boosting their career opportunities by diving into internships.

In fact, more than 50 students enrolled in an internship class to learn how to have a more meaningful internship experience and get college credit for paid internships.

Many students started early by looking for internships at the annual career fair in February, which included more than 35 employers. Some took advantage of Eugene athletic opportunities, with students interning at the Olympic Trials.

And some used Handshake, a platform for students to connect with employers. The summer opportunities took them all over Oregon and beyond.

Holly Tate, from the UO Career Center, said  internships are pretty hands-on, especially the ones that are applied, like lab work.

“These internships teach real, practical skills that the companies could hire the students for,” Tate said. “They want to make students better entry-level employees because many want to hire their interns later on.”

Here are three students who had internship opportunities they loved.

Mónika Hoke from Bellevue, Washington, is a graduate student in chemistry in the Knight Campus Graduate Internship Program. This summer, Hoke worked as an intern on the team that contributes to the characterization of the hyper-elastic polymer gel used in the Purple mattresses and seat cushions.

Typically, students in the Knight program find internships through company-student networking. Hoke however, found her internship on LinkedIn and applied on a whim. She said she had no idea she would have the opportunity to work at a company like Purple, but the program encourages people to explore and innovate, which she enjoys.

This summer, the company installed two new instruments to help them further expand the limits of what they already know about polymer.

“The process of scientific discovery excites me, and each day we continue to define the characteristics and push the limits of the unique properties of our polymer,” Hoke said. “As my career develops, I hope to continue discovering new material applications, maybe even the next greatest car seat cushioning.”

Nico FlorescaNico Floresca, a product design major from St. Louis, Missouri, is interning for Levi Strauss & Co. He worked in the Design Innovation Department, which focuses on experimental sustainability research and design to reduce the company’s overall environmental impact.

Floresca found his post by applying to the company’s internship website and reaching out to a number of its designers on LinkedIn for informational interviews.

Floresca said clothing and footwear have been a passion of his from a very young age and was the one career field he’s always wanted to pursue. 

He said he decided to major in product design because he wanted to try his hand in multiple disciplines of design while developing a better overall understanding of the creative process. 

“I have career aspirations to combine my passion for functional yet aesthetic clothing/soft goods with a future in sustainable design,” Floresca said.

The internship excited Floresca because he wanted to learn about clothing design on the scale of the largest apparel brands in the world, as well as make meaningful and lasting connections with his mentors and fellow interns.

Emily NorquistThis summer Emily Norquist, a fourth-year neuroscience major minoring in psychology, shadowed Dr. Jason Liauw, a neurosurgeon who primarily specializes in complex and minimally invasive spine surgery at the Saddleback Medical Center in Laguna Hills, California. Norquist had the opportunity to observe surgeries both in the clinic and the operating room.

She found the internship through her uncle, a surgical technician who works with Liauw. He introduced Norquist when she was in high school, knowing her interest in medicine. She recently reconnected with Liauw after declaring a neuroscience major at the UO, and he invited her to shadow him and his team.

As a neuroscience major and pre-med student, Emily said she is looking forward to gaining experience in the medical field and having the opportunity to be mentored by a physician who is well-known in neurosurgery.

After graduation, Norquist, who is from Huntington Beach, California, plans on attending medical school.

“This experience has truly reestablished my love for medicine and strengthened my desire to pursue a career as a physician,” she said. 

By Sophia Prince, University Communications