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From Martha Stewart to Beijing: Summer internship experiences

| Senior Scene Editor

As the semester kicks off, many students are already beginning the seemingly endless process of searching for, applying for and getting rejected from countless jobs and internships. While it may seem futile when rejections are stacked against you, have a little hope: We found four Washington University students who landed some truly incredible summer internships.

Martha Stewart Living

Senior Hannah Longmore at her desk at the New York offices of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc.Courtesy of The Career Center

Senior Hannah Longmore at her desk at the New York offices of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc.

One lucky Washington University student interned in New York City under Martha Stewart herself. Hannah Longmore was the only executive intern in the magazine’s office, which meant that she worked in the executive department, right alongside the CFO, the CEO and the infamous Ms. Stewart. “The entire office was gorgeous,” Longmore said. “It’s an old train station and warehouse building. Everything is white, and there was so much natural light. It was a great place to work.” With a beautiful rooftop deck for afternoon lunching and evening soirees, the building lent itself well to the glitz and glamor of New York. As part of the employees’ contracts, the office had to be well maintained at all times. After all, in Martha’s world, appearances are crucial.

But it wasn’t all about aesthetics. The position required diligence and hard work—Longmore’s responsibilities included coordinating office schedules, planning events, filing expenses, taking care of bills and communicating with the staff.

“This internship gave me the opportunity to talk to a lot of people in roles that I could ultimately see myself going into,” Longmore said. She became particularly close with the General Counsel, who took her under his wing and showed her the ins and outs of the office. Longmore even interacted with Martha herself on a regular basis. “She is reasonably very, very demanding,” Longmore said of Stewart. “She is a woman of such high stature and does so well in the business world. When she wanted something done, you had to do it right away. I definitely didn’t want to get on her bad side.”

From attending the release party for Emeril Lagasse’s new cookbook with high-profile New York City foodies (and, of course, plenty of great food) to schmoozing with more than 400 notable bloggers from around America at Stewart’s BlogHER party, Longmore was given privileges that other interns weren’t. Though Longmore doesn’t know what the future holds for her, working for Stewart gave her contacts and experiences that she will take into her professional career. “I’m just glad [the staff] were so willing to speak to me about their own experiences,” Longmore said. “I’ll definitely stay in touch with everyone.”

U.S. State Department, Beijing
Senior Kathryn Sparks was selected by the U.S. State Department in Beijing to do investigative work.

“I got to pick some issues that were interesting or important to me, and I had to research them,” Sparks said. Part of this research included interviewing high-profile judges, lawyers and professors in China about sensitive topics such as a new law regarding torture during interrogations, which was passed in June. Once her research was completed, Sparks spent time writing reports on her findings and sending them straight to Washington, D.C. to help advise U.S. policy makers.

Sparks said she wasn’t expecting the job to feel so much like investigative journalism. It also entailed meetings with diplomats and congressional members. Most importantly, all of her work had to be conducted in Chinese.

The internship “definitely got me more interested in foreign service and effecting change,” said Sparks. “When you actually work firsthand with the people on the ground at the lower levels of the bureaucratic chain…, you see a bunch of really smart, hardworking people who care a lot about what they’re doing. It definitely made me very enthusiastic about it,” Sparks said. “If you want to change something, you can’t be afraid to get your hands dirty and work from the bottom up.”

Google
If an employer told you that it didn’t matter what time you came and went from the office and if you were given beautiful sprawling lawns and delicious free food all day, you’d probably ask, “what’s the catch?”

At Google, there isn’t one. Computer science major Eliot Walker was lucky enough to intern right in the heart of the famed Googleplex in California.

“While they don’t regulate the work hours and you can come and go when you want, they still expect you to do a lot of work every day,” Walker said. But with all the luxuries and amenities Google offers its employees, most people choose to stay all day.

“The job itself was not entirely that interesting [to explain],” Walker said. “Big companies that have a lot of code need to keep it organized and available, and they use a type of software called Version Control, which basically keeps records within the files. If somebody changes files in a way that breaks the code, they can just revert the changes and get it back to a working condition. So I worked with a team that supported that software.”

While his experience certainly enticed him to continue working for Google, it also strengthened his resolve to go to graduate school. “I saw what kinds of jobs are out there for people in my field who have completed PhDs or master’s degrees. While there are some great entry-level jobs, and pretty much any job at Google is great, I’d rather go to grad school first and then come back after I do that.”

Calvin Klein Inc.
After Alex Jacobs, a senior at the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts, won the YMA fashion scholarship last fall, Tommy Hilfiger selected him for a prestigious internship in marketing and design. After turning down an offer from Armani, Jacobs quickly learned the ins and outs of the company.

“It was an amazing experience to see how the different departments of a fashion design company interact with one another,” Jacobs said. Some of his responsibilities included calling and selecting models in for fashion shoots, as well as choosing the order in which the clothes would appear on the runway.

“I also did a competitive analysis for comparing all of the denim guides of our competitors with those of Tommy Hilfiger,” Jacobs said.

After receiving a full-time job offer from Hilfiger himself as part of a promotional party, Jacobs said he does not regret turning down his initial offer from Armani’s wholesale division. “European companies don’t have creative or design departments in the U.S.,” Jacobs said, “so I just felt like I had a greater opportunity to learn [at Calvin Klein, Inc.] because it’s an American company.”