What Washington University students did on their summer vacation

(Video: Bill Edwards/Washington University)

What did Washington University students do on their summer vacation? Design planes. Research cancer. Study baboons.

The Washington University in St. Louis Career Center reports students spent the summer of 2018 conducting groundbreaking research, serving their communities and working in their fields. The Career Center surveyed the classes of 2019, 2020, and 2021 and found that 57 percent of students worked a summer internship, 16 percent conducted research, 12 percent worked and 11 percent studied abroad or enrolled in class.

“Summer internships, research and other pre-professional learning opportunities continue to be priority experiences for students to learn, build and grow their professional skills,” said Aimee Wittman, director of career services at the Career Center. “I love talking with students about the connections they made and the career paths they discovered.”

Kayce Sorbello, a senior studying international and area studies and anthropology in Arts & Sciences, traveled to Uganda, where she researched farmer-wildlife conflict near Kibale National Park.

“The wildlife was amazing. I saw elephants, baboons, chimpanzees,” Sorbello said. “But these animals pose a real threat to the subsistence farmers who live near the park. When the animals raid their farms, they are left with literally nothing. The experience made me want to return to Uganda.”

Zaneta Belay, a graduate student studying control engineering in the School of Engineering & Applied Science, stayed closer to home, working at Boeing Co. in St. Louis. 

“A lot of the tasks were new to me, but so many people there took me under their wing. I learned the importance of asking clarifying questions because if you get it wrong, there is the potential to lose millions of dollars, not to mention human lives,” Belay said. “Talk about getting a real-world perspective. The experience was invaluable.”

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