Metcalf Memoirs

What can you do with a Jeff Metcalf internship? Find out in these 14 diverse snapshots of interns' experiences last summer.
Metcalf Collage
Photo by: 
Gordon Lew, College Visual Media Editor, Class of 2015
It is amazing that you can obtain such a clear picture of the past thousands of years from spending a few weeks essentially adding pieces of fungi to mixes and changing the temperature. —Cody Weinberger, Class of 2015

As the summer internship season kicks off, the College media team has gathered reflections from a few students in each UChicago Careers In... (UCI) program who held Jeff Metcalf internships this past summer. Here is a snapshot of what they had to say about their experiences. For the full interviews, click on the students' names.


Benjamin Field, Class of 2014
Chicago Mayor's Office of Legislative Counsel & Government Affairs

Q: What is the most important lesson you have learned or the most rewarding experience you have had?

A: Working with the Chicago Mayor's Office did not profoundly change the way I think about government. I have always believed government can be a force for good, and the commitment and competence of the Mayor's staff only reinforced that notion. I was, however, surprised by the number of senior staffers who had successful private sector careers before transitioning to public service. Though the term "revolving door" is often used to berate public servants who have "sold out" to the private sector, I now realize that there is a constant flow of high-minded private sector workers looking to "make a difference" to the public sector. I have always wanted to work in public service, and observing this phenomenon has shown me that pursuing a private sector career with the idea of later entering public service is a viable career plan.


Madalyn Frigo, Class of 2014
Content Producer at Sun-Times Media, a Wrapports Company

Q: How would you sum up your Metcalf experience?

A: I feel like my Metcalf this year has been the perfect fusion of my two interests and my last two internships. My first year I had a marketing internship with a non-profit, and my second year I had an investigative reporting internship with CBS2 News. I enjoyed both of them, but I especially liked how being a Content Producer at Wrapports has allowed me to use skills I acquired from both of those internships. I think writing and producing news for the Web has been a great experience for me, and I have thoroughly enjoyed writing travel-related news content. I've really enjoyed working at Wrapports and meeting such great people, working at a great location, and having fun while doing my job.


Keegan Hankes, Class of 2013
Intelligence Project Intern, Southern Poverty Law Center

Q: What has been the most challenging aspect of your Metcalf, and how have you dealt with or overcome that challenge?

A: Adapting to the routine and repetition of an eight-hour workday. I haven't had this much structure in my life since high school. Thankfully when working for an organization like the SPLC, even on the most monotonous days, it's difficult to lose sight of how important the work is for marginalized individuals and communities. Believing in the work you're doing makes disengagement impossible—working at the SPLC is a testament to that.


Dake Kang, Class of 2015
CNN Newsroom Intern

Q: How does your major or other coursework at UChicago relate to the kind of work that you are doing for your Metcalf?

A: In my opinion, the most important qualities to succeed as an intern at CNN are persistence, curiosity, initiative, and worldliness. UChicago gave me all that in spades. The courses I've taken here—to trot out a tired yet true cliché—have broadened my perspectives and opened my mind to the vast intellectual depth of the huge variety of subjects out there. It's lent me a certain inquisitiveness and curiosity about things that have served me well so far. UChicago's famed academic rigor has definitely prepared me for the work [at CNN] as well, pushing me to be persistent in tackling projects and assignments and pursuing new opportunities. Finally, my specific major, History with a specialization in modernization in China, the Middle East, and India, has undoubtedly given me foundational knowledge that's indispensable when dealing with current events.

Photo courtesy of Dake Kang, Class of 2015


Vlad Krokhmal, Class of 2014
J.P. Morgan Investment Management

Q: How would you sum up your Metcalf experience?

A: My summer was a great mix of learning, meeting people, and pushing the limits of my productivity. My team did a great job of giving me extra material to read up on about the industry (REITs) that I was covering, and I ended up learning so much about this sector. I was also encouraged to set aside time to meet people all over the firm, forge connections, and get a feeling for where I belonged. Lastly, by the end of the summer, I ended up creating an investment thesis that I presented to my team—a big project that I was proud of!


John Lim, Class of 2014
New York City Department of Education (NYCDOE)

Q: What has been the most challenging aspect of your Metcalf, and how have you dealt with or overcome that challenge?

A: The most challenging part is adapting to ambiguous situations on the fly. There is a pretty steep learning curve working for the NYCDOE, and you have to be ready to hit the ground running. It's actually really exciting! I had trouble learning a million things at once, but you learn to adapt over time, learning to ask the right people the right questions to get the help you need. Everyone here is really supportive and willing to help!


Jeffrey Nelson, Class of 2015
HireBrite Web Developer

Q: What is the most important lesson you have learned or the most rewarding experience you have had?

A: The most important skill I have gained while working is the ability to break down a complex project into smaller and more manageable tasks, such that the various smaller tasks can come together over time to gain emergent and more complex properties. A website, for instance, is composed of many different types of tools and technologies that all come together to create a more complex application that can be used by the public.

Photo courtesy of Jeffrey Nelson, Class of 2015


Bryn Pernot, Class of 2013
Evaluation and Research Intern, Museum of Science and Industry

Q: What is the most interesting, memorable, or unique experience/assignment you have had while working in the capacity of your Metcalf?

A: As strange as it sounds, I really enjoyed the orientation experience, because it was so much more upbeat and excited than any orientation I had ever been to before. This event gave me a great perspective into the enthusiasm of the museum and the fact that everyone there is in the guest experience business—that's what everyone's job comes down to. I saw how much this positive environment extended to visitors when I collected data on the floor, interacting with visitors who were so excited to be at the museum.


Nick Pielech, Class of 2016
Texas Governor's Fellowship Program

Q: What is the most important lesson you have learned or the most rewarding experience you have had?

A: I have learned a lot about democracy and how government interacts with its citizens. The most important lesson I learned is that the government does listen to its citizens and our elected officials do listen to and care about their constituents. Each person who either called or wrote into our office was treated with kindness and respect, and if we could not help resolve their situation we directed them to other divisions that could. 


Katherine Quintero, Class of 2013
Legal Intern, Global Drug Facility, World Health Organization

Q: How does your major or other coursework at UChicago relate to the kind of work that you are doing for your Metcalf?

A: As an International Studies major and Human Rights minor, I took many classes that discussed the history and operation of international organizations like the UN and its special agencies. I learned how large-scale international cooperation became possible in the first place, and the challenges involved with sustaining these relationships. In my classes we read and discussed a variety of viewpoints and critiques of the international system. I was able to use these, in combination with my experiences this summer, to create and solidify my own opinions and approaches to the field. Personally, it was incredibly thrilling to be working with these organizations that I had spent so much time studying and researching.

Photo courtesy of Katherine Quintero, Class of 2013


Erika Rist, Class of 2014
Intern at Center for WorkLife Law, UC Hastings College of the Law

Q: What attracted you to the Metcalf internship that you have been doing this summer?

A: I sought to work at an organization that fused great minds with powerful work—learning from the women of WLL [WorkLife Law] and seeing how they translate keen thought into a reduction of bias and harm will prove instrumental for me, I believe, as I continue to train my mind to do the same.


Cindy Wang, Class of 2014
Accenture Management Consulting

Q: What has been the most challenging aspect of your Metcalf, and how have you dealt with or overcome that challenge?

A: Learning at a fast pace all the time. The work rarely ever slows down, and if it does, you're probably not doing enough. It was also difficult adjusting to a working lifestyle at first and to a schedule that was set for me, whereas in college you plan your day out and when you want the work to get done. In the real world, it's very different because you have to work on everyone else's schedule.


Emily Wang, Class of 2014
n+1 Magazine Editorial Intern

Q: How does your major or other coursework at UChicago relate to the kind of work that you are doing for your Metcalf?

A: Since n+1 is primarily a literary journal, the close reading and discussion skills I've developed in my English courses here at UChicago have been integral to the editorial work I've been doing for n+1, including deliberating with co-interns and with editors on submissions, researching to edit drafts, and proofreading. The theoretical background I've been exposed to in my English and sociology courses has also been enormously helpful, as n+1 does not shy away from taking on theory in the pieces they publish.


Cody Weinberger, Class of 2015
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

Q: What is the most important lesson you have learned or the most rewarding experience you have had?

A: Being the first person to see the actual phylogenetic tree for an entire taxon was a very cool experience. The specimens had been collected by many naturalists and ecologists all over the world throughout the past century; seeing all of their efforts along with mine resolve all the contentions about how the species are related, with just a diagram popping up on my computer screen, was almost surreal. It is amazing that you can obtain such a clear picture of the past thousands of years from spending a few weeks essentially adding pieces of fungi to mixes and changing the temperature.

Metcalf Internships are available to College students throughout the academic year, and especially during the summer internship season. To learn more about currently posted Metcalf Internships, log into your Chicago Career Connection account to search for opportunities, and to make an appointment with a Career Advancement adviser.

Click here to read more about UChicago students' Metcalf Internships.

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