Our Stories

Other Internships

Here are just some of the places where Willamette undergraduates interned during the summer:

LEWIS PR, San Diego
Office of Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber, Salem
Providence Benedictine Nursing Center, Mount Angel, Ore.
City of Chicago
Pentacle Community Theatre, Salem, Ore.
Congregations Helping People, Salem, Ore.
E Kika de la Garza Dairy Goat Research Institute, Langston, Okla.
Safe Families for Children, Salem, Ore.
CAUSA, Salem, Ore.
Office of Oregon State Rep. Betty Komp, Salem

Willamette students land summer internships throughout the nation

From learning theatre stage management in California to studying the effects of chemoprotection drugs in Oregon, Willamette University’s undergraduates spent their summer exploring their varied career interests.

Some stayed close to home in Salem or Portland, while others ventured across the country — working in such cities as San Diego, Chicago and Langston, Okla.

While their experiences differed, the lessons learned share a common theme. Many students say they learned of the internships through their Willamette professors or felt prepared for the work because of their undergraduate education.

Here are some of their stories. To learn more about summer internship opportunities, visit Willamette's Career Services website.


Alex Kimmel ’14Alex Kimmel ’14

  • Major: Theatre, with a minor in Art History and Classical Studies
  • Home Town: Erie, Pa.
  • Internship site: California Shakespeare Theatre, Berkeley — the nationally recognized theatre showcases seasonal productions in an outdoor amphitheater, a year-round school and a host of community-based programs that expand access to the arts and arts education.

Emily Miller ’15Emily Miller ’15

  • Major: Creative Writing, with a minor in Chemistry
  • Home Town: Portland, Ore.
  • Internship site: Oregon Health & Science University in the Neuro-Oncology Blood Brain Barrier Program

Nathan Combs '13Nathan Combs '13

  • Major: Film Studies
  • Home Town: Vashon, Wash.
  • Internship site: The FUNDA Organization in Portland, Ore., which was recently founded by Willamette graduate Scotty Iseri ’01 to create child-based innovative media.

Victoria Black Horse "Pretty Evening Star" '13Victoria Black Horse "Pretty Evening Star" '13

  • Major: Biology, with minors in Chemistry and Economics
  • Home Town: Issaquah, Wash.
  • Internship site: Four Directions Summer Research Program at Harvard Medical School in Boston

Briana Ezray '14Briana Ezray '14

  • Major: Biology
  • Home Town: Sacramento, Calif.
  • Internship site: Oregon Department of Agriculture, specifically the pest prevention and management section of the Plant Division. The function of the government agency is to protect natural resources in Oregon.

Alex Kimmel ’14

Alex Kimmel ’14

Alex Kimmel '14 tracked props and made a rehearsal set while interning at the California Shakespeare Theatre in Berkeley.

  • Major: Theatre, with a minor in Art History and Classical Studies
  • Home Town: Erie, Pa.
  • Internship site: California Shakespeare Theatre, Berkeley — the nationally recognized theatre showcases seasonal productions in an outdoor amphitheater, a year-round school and a host of community-based programs that expand access to the arts and arts education.

Q: What were you hired to do?

As a stage management intern, I tracked props and made the rehearsal set, laid out costumes and printed schedules. I worked directly with the actors, the director and all the designers, which was fantastic.

The job changed from rehearsal to show. During tech week, you arrived at 10 a.m. and left at 2 a.m., but when the show was playing, you came in at 4 p.m. and left at 9 or 10 p.m.

They worked myself and the other interns very, very hard, but we were very much a part of the process.

Q: How did you learn of this opportunity?

The faculty were super helpful in helping me find this internship. Rachel Kinsman Steck, one of the theatre faculty at Willamette, actually used to work there and talked really highly about it. Two former Willamette students had worked there before too, so that put Cal Shakes high on my list.

Q: What did you learn?

I went out to lunch with the stage manager and the production assistant while I was there, and they told me if I survived this internship I’d make it anywhere.

Actors are emotional creatures, and when they’re hot, sweaty and tired, they get even more emotional. You didn’t have people checking in on you like you do at Willamette. There is absolutely no hand holding. That was really hard for me, but I’m not going to get that, normally, in the real world.

Q: What was your most interesting experience this summer?

I love the people I met there. They’re the kind of people I hope to surround myself with when I graduate. They’re making a living working in a professional theatre, which is no small feat.

The great thing about stage management is you get to work with everyone. Your job is to make their jobs easier. It’s a great honor to know I’ve helped create this awesome piece of theatre, and it’s reaffirmed that this is what I want to do.

Q: How did the experience help you academically and professionally?

It’s hard work, but it’s instantly gratifying. As a stage manager, you are a part of every step. You get to see how this designer affects another designer.

You get to see the whole picture from beginning to end. Even the director goes away. The stage manager is there from the initial concept meeting to the final curtain call. I cannot imagine myself doing anything else.

Back to top


Emily Miller ’15

Emily Miller ’15

Emily Miller '15 studied drugs that protect against the toxic side effects of chemotherapy while at Oregon Health & Science University in Portland, Ore.

  • Major: Creative Writing, with a minor in Chemistry
  • Home Town: Portland, Ore.
  • Internship site: Oregon Health & Science University in the Neuro-Oncology Blood Brain Barrier Program

Q: What were you hired to do?

I ran an experiment on chemotherapy, coupled with drugs that protect against the toxic side effects of that chemo.

I used medulloblastoma, which is a pediatric brain tumour. Basically, I studied the effects of chemotherapy and a chemoprotection drug on rats.

Q: How did you learn of this opportunity?

I was interested in summer research, and I found both neuroscience and oncology fascinating. In October or November of last year, I started searching for research labs at OHSU. When I came across the Neuro-Oncology Blood Brain Barrier Program, I was really excited because it combined both of my interests.

There was no mention of summer interns on the website, but I called the lab anyway and emailed the program director. I got a response within the next few days saying that they did have unadvertised positions and were glad that I contacted them.

They invited me to come interview in December over winter break. I did so, and they hired me on the spot. It was really lucky that I stumbled upon the opportunity, and it definitely taught me that if you want something specific, you have to ask and be a go-getter.

Q: What did you learn?

Most importantly, I learned science cannot be predicted or scheduled in the same way I thought it could. Things can, and will, go wrong.

But I learned how to move past obstacles, adjust my plans accordingly, and move forward. That’s a really crucial lesson to learn in any experience — how to roll with the punches and keep trying.

Q: What was your most interesting experience this summer?

One of our incubators broke, so we had to transfer all our flasks of cancer cells to a single working incubator. It was full to brimming with flasks, and broke a week or two after the first one did. It kept beeping every 60 seconds, and it was so ear-piercing. The entire floor kept cringing.

It eventually became unusable, so we had to transfer our flasks between various labs at OHSU that had incubator space until someone came to fix the incubator. It was definitely a challenging hurdle!

I also shadowed a human brain surgery, which was probably the most amazing thing I have ever seen. I stood in complete awe and wonder for five hours, and it absolutely solidified my passion for medicine.

Q: How did the experience help you academically and professionally?

It really gave me insight into what working and being in a science lab is like, and what it means to conduct research.

Since I hope to become a physician, I will need to be involved with clinical and bench research at some point.

I feel much more confident about this aspect of my future now that I understand what research is, and I also feel more prepared for my science classes due to the heavy emphasis on the scientific process and reasoning.

Back to top


Nathan Combs '13

Nathan Combs '13

From working with 5-year-old actors to directing and editing promotional material, Nathan Combs '13 experienced filmmaking first hand through his summer internship with FUNDA in Portland, Ore.

  • Major: Film Studies
  • Home Town: Vashon, Wash.
  • Internship site: The FUNDA Organization in Portland, Ore., which was recently founded by Willamette graduate Scotty Iseri ’01 to create child-based innovative media.

Q: What were you hired to do?

The project I worked on, “The Digits,” is a live-action narrative, which will be incarnated in both a web series and a downloadable app designed for tablet computers.

“The Digits” combines video similar to that of a TV series, with games and interactions that influence the story. It features rock music, robots, aliens and math.

Working with a small, and often scarcely paid crew led to me working in a lot of areas, ranging from buying fog machines and chasing away sparrows to directing and editing promotional material.

Q: How did you learn of this opportunity?

Scotty, my boss, had reached out to film students at Willamette through my advisor Ken Nolley.

I was looking at other film-related internships in the area, and the description seemed to be much more hands on than anything else I had encountered. I had a phone interview with Scotty, and, apparently, we hit it off.

Q: What did you learn?

The first segment I shot was a two-minute long commercial for the website. I was determined to be professional and prepared, but I was working with three 5-year-old actors.

I realized that as helpful as a good plan can be, there is still so much that can’t be accounted for. My camera ran out of battery twice, the SD card filled up, and the whole while the kids were stomping around, shouting “Pizza in a bag! Pizza in a bag!”

I didn’t have that in my plan. But I had to get as many of the shots as I could, and in the end, it worked out all right — hopefully.

Q: What was your most interesting experience this summer?

As FUNDA is a start-up, and the first “season” of  “The Digits” is still in production, a lot of the cast and crew had full- time jobs and came to the six- to eight- hour long shoots after work and on the weekends.

During a break, I was talking to the boom mike operator — who was an aeronautical engineer. (I honestly forget what kind of engineer he was. It very well could have been aeronautical.) I asked him what brought him out until midnight on a Tuesday to hold a microphone.

He kind of shrugged and said “this is what I love.” I really appreciate that kind of dedication, and it’s definitely something I don’t see around as much as I feel like I should. 

Q: How did the experience help you academically and professionally?

I feel I’ve gotten an amazing academic education on film at Willamette, but it was great to get some practical experience with “The Digits.”

As with any art form, so much of making a film is trial and error. I’ve watched pretty nearly every film Akira Kurosawa ever made. I know how he would shoot something, but I had no idea how I would.

It’s a very different angle to look at things from, and I think (or hope, rather) that having had this experience will be a great asset as I prepare to enter the world of film-making.

Back to top


Victoria Black Horse "Pretty Evening Star" '13

Victoria Black Horse "Pretty Evening Star" '13

Victoria Black Horse '13 worked as a research intern for the Four Directions Summer Research Program at Harvard Medical School in Boston.

  • Major: Biology, with minors in Chemistry and Economics
  • Home Town: Issaquah, Wash.
  • Internship site: Four Directions Summer Research Program at Harvard Medical School in Boston

Q: What were you hired to do?

The Four Directions program is designed for Native American students interested in pursuing careers in the medical field as doctors or biomedical researchers, and as an enrolled citizen of the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma, this eight-week program fit in perfectly with my career goals.

It consisted of a scientific research project with a Harvard Medical School faculty member and physician shadowing at prestigious hospitals in Boston.

I worked as a research intern under Dr. Matthew Warman at Boston Children’s Hospital, where I served in the Orthopedics Research Department. My clinical shadowing took place at Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in the Neurology, Oncology and Cardiovascular departments.

Under Dr. Warman, I completed research concerning the identification of the Prg4 gene expression in the liver — with the idea that findings have potential to assist CACP and osteoarthritis patients.

Q: How did you learn of this opportunity?

I found my summer internship opportunities through extensive Internet research.

Q: What did you learn?

Working in Warman’s lab allowed me to observe the technical operations of a research laboratory at a hospital.

In addition, my shadowing experiences enabled me to fully comprehend the responsibility of physicians and their compassionate relationships with their patients.

Q: What was your most interesting experience this summer?

While the experience I gained through shadowing physicians at some of the top hospitals in the nation was extremely informative, and building relationships with other Native students furthered my understanding of Indian country, my most cherished experience was working on my research project with my post-doctoral fellow, Minjie Zhang, and my mentor, Dr. Warman.

It is a remarkable feeling to start a science investigation and have the opportunity to identify, learn and implement techniques that attempt to answer the scientific question.

Even if the narrow question at hand seems somewhat insignificant when compared to the larger picture, in this case, learning about the liver status of CACP patients, the question connects to a bigger idea and possibility of translational medicine. I feel so honored to have had this opportunity.

Q: How did the experience help you academically and professionally?

My involvement at Willamette University and this summer internship has been instrumental in growing my vision for the future of healthcare in Native American communities.

At Willamette, I am the president of the Native American Enlightenment Association, a member of the Native American Advisory Council and a tutor with the Chemawa Indian Boarding School Partnership Program.

Due to my dedication and future involvement within Native American health care, I was awarded a full-tuition paid Indian Health Service pre-medical scholarship for my senior year.

My background prepared me for my internship, which has further strengthened my candidacy for medical school, prepared me for practice and research, broadened my exposure to health issues presently confronting Native American communities and solidified my desire to serve as a medical professional.

Back to top


Briana Ezray '14

Briana Ezray '14

Briana Ezray '14 solidified her love of entomology through her summer internship with the Oregon Department of Agriculture.

  • Major: Biology
  • Home Town: Sacramento, Calif.
  • Internship site: Oregon Department of Agriculture, specifically the pest prevention and management section of the Plant Division. The function of the government agency is to protect natural resources in Oregon.

Q: What were you hired to do?

After receiving permission from farmers, I placed native bee traps on their property. The traps were placed among at least 20 different crops, including cherries, blueberries, radishes, melons and squash.

I collected samples from these traps and analyzed them — washing and drying the specimens beforehand. Then, I pinned the bee specimens to prepare them for identification.

This summer, I started to identify the species of bumblebees I collected. In addition to running the sites in the Willamette Valley, I trained trappers in Central and Eastern Oregon to collect bee samples.

Q: How did you learn of this opportunity?

Early in my freshman year, my advisor, David Craig, learned I was interested in pursuing a graduate degree in entomology (the study of insects). He suggested I contact the ODA to see if I could acquire a volunteer position.

I began volunteering for the ODA in October 2010. My first project was to catalog the insect museum. After that, my manager asked if I would run the trial of the native bee survey during the summer of 2011. 

I had just received the College Colloquium grant to study bees, so this was the perfect opportunity. Then, in February 2012 the ODA hired me to work on the Native Bee Survey throughout Oregon.

Q: What did you learn?

I have learned how to run a scientific survey from start to finish. I was responsible for drafting the experimental protocol for the trapping and collection of bees. Specifically, I have learned how to trap and identify bees.

Q: What was your most interesting experience this summer?

The most interesting experience I had this summer was getting the opportunity to visit central Oregon for the first time and to train a trapper how to place the native bee traps. 

Q: How did the experience help you academically and professionally?

My experience directly helps with my academic and career goals because I plan to go to graduate school to study entomology and then hopefully become a professor of entomology.

Back to top



08-22-2012