What’s the secret to the perfect internship?
“I entered college knowing I wanted to make an impact in the environment, but wasn’t sure what that would look like,” said senior Alexsandra Wesolowski. But, after starting as an environmental science major, she switched to business analytics her sophomore year so she could focus on sustainability and data rather than biology.
“As a kid, I used to make spreadsheets for the game Mario Kart on the Wii, tracking how many characters and tracks I had unlocked,” she said. “When I started to learn more about computer analytics, I was reminded of being a little kid and making those spreadsheets for a video game I loved. Changing my major was extremely satisfying, and I learned how many different paths you can go down by studying analytics.”
When she came across an internship focusing on energy and sustainability at OSF HealthCare in its facilities management and construction department, she jumped at it.
Working with the Integrated Solutions team, Wesolowski analyzed purchasing data for food and disposable wares to quantify OSF’s Scope 3 emissions.
She applied critical thinking skills learned in class to research and prepare her analysis on the use of disposable cups throughout the hospital system. This data, which was included in the department’s annual report, alerted hospital administrators to be more conscious of their purchases of disposable items to decrease OSF’s carbon footprint.
“Data drives decisions in business, and I learned that quickly throughout my internship.”
And she’s applied those lessons in her personal life, as well. “Because I was dealing with a lot of spending data, I gained an understanding of purchasing and supply chain management that made me think critically of what I was purchasing for myself and each item’s purpose.”
When she thinks back on this experience, Wesolowski said the most important lesson she learned is that trying your best is enough — you don’t have to know everything when going into an internship.
“Take what you don’t know and use it as an opportunity to develop as a professional. Ask questions and check-in with your supervisor about the progress of your projects.”
When her internship was over, it was bittersweet. “The experience exceeded my expectations, and I grew beyond what I thought was possible,” Wesolowski said. “When I left, it was harder than I could have ever imagined because I enjoyed it so much.”
Wesolowski was one of five students named 2022 Outstanding Intern of the Year by Bradley’s Smith Career Center. She advises other students to work with advisors at the Smith Career Center to find opportunities — even if they’re outside your major.
— Emily Potts