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Turning Knowledge Into Action: Internships as a Rite of Passage

October 13, 2015

Yash Desai B.A. ’15Yash Desai B.A. ’15

The sixth time the wind flicked his mortarboard’s gold tassel in front of his face, Yash Desai calmly reached up and removed the offending cap, keeping his eyes focused all the while on his audience: the class of 2015 and their faculty, families, and friends attending the 142nd commencement of the College of Arts and Sciences.

Delivering remarks last May 9 on behalf of his fellow graduates, he noted that their new degrees put them in position “to create the most value not just for ourselves but for others, in whatever we do.” Trustee Stephanie Fowler M.A. ’97 and her husband, Irving Levin Trustee Stephanie Fowler M.A. ’97 and her husband, Irving Levin Leadership andSupport Yash Desai B.A. ’15 An economics major from south of Mumbai, India, Yash is now pursuing that responsibility at Bridgewell Resources, a global trade and distribution company. A recent profile in the Oregonian points out that “Desai is drawn to the venture-capital industry and creative capitalism, in which investment funds finance businesses in society’s poorest segments.”

At Lewis & Clark, he brought his broad interests in global finance into sharper focus by combining academic coursework with cocurricular experiences—notably a 2014 summer internship at Aginsky Consulting Group, a Portland-based investment advisory firm.

Financial support provided by a Stephanie Fowler and Irving Levin Summer Internship Award helped underwrite that intensive practical experience. The highly competitive Fowler-Levin awards support students who, as the criteria specify, “demonstrate initiative and are pursuing experiences that are unique, life changing, formative, and inspiring.”

Trustee Stephanie Fowler M.A. ’97 and her husband, Irving LevinTrustee Stephanie Fowler M.A. ’97 and her husband, Irving Levin

This past summer the awards, funded by Trustee Stephanie Fowler

M.A. ’97 and her husband, Irving Levin, helped 14 rising juniors and seniors secure internships that included:.

  • Participating in research at an Oregon Health & Science University molecular biology laboratory investigating cell function and cell disease 32 Lewis & Clark Chronicle .
  • Helping the Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children program expand its services in metropolitan Portland while also earning certification as a CASA volunteer.
  • Conducting archival research in the Office of the Historian in the U.S. State Department to maintain the official record of U.S. foreign policy decisions.
  • Collaborating on public policy research reports while developing skills in advocacy and fundraising as a policy associate at Portland City Club.
  • Helping indigenous youth in Panama document the effects of climate change in local communities and participate in national and international forums, including the United Nations Climate Change Conference to be held in Paris later this year Fowler-Levin internships seek to provide experiences that help students crystallize and focus their post-graduation plans, whether they pursue graduate and professional studies or begin a career.

That opportunity was a prime attraction for Katie Craighead CAS ’16, an international affairs and French double major with a minor in mathematics. She interned in the office of U.S.

Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) B.A. ’70, J.D. ’76 “to gain,” she says, “an unprecedented understanding of our nuanced systemofgovernment—particularly the Congress member- constituent relationship—while acquiring advanced public speaking and research skills.”

She met her goal through a summer of whirlwind activities that included fielding and responding to constituent phone calls and emails, drafting correspondence, attending briefings, assisting with legislative research, leading tours of the Capitol—and handingout her boss’s signature bike pins wherever she went.

And, as Katie learned, sometimes internships deliver unexpected moments. Hers came on June 26, 2015. When the historic decision on marriage equality was delivered, she was standing in front of the Supreme Court Building with her office colleagues and the congressman.

As Yash, Katie, and many other Pioneers can attest, internships enrich academic studies, jump-start careers, are highly valued by employers, and strengthen partnerships between Lewis & Clark and enterprises in the private, public, and nonprofit sectors.

The Fowler-Levin Summer Internships are among several experiential learning opportunities offered through the Career Center, which also administers science, mathematics, and technology awards funded by the James F. and Marion L. Miller Foundation and summer internships at the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

Additional information about the Career Center’s services is available at

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