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Summer Interns Explore Their Futures, Wichita

Interns from around the world are making Wichita their home for the summer. 

They’re taking a go at potential careers while exploring what Wichita has to offer.

Greater Wichita Partnership and W are helping the interns get adjusted by hosting informational events and providing passports that take interns around Wichita. The two groups collaborated on a kickoff event at Wave earlier this month.

Alejo Cabral is the director of W, an organization for young professionals in Wichita. Cabral said he likes to think of cities as a canvas. Young professionals, he said, are often drawn to big and booming cities, where the canvas is already is covered with paint.

“There's maybe a little bit of blank spots on the edges, and that’s wonderful, but within Wichita, our canvas still has a lot of white spaces, which means that as young professionals, we have the opportunity to really pick up a paintbrush, right?” Cabral said. “(We can) add life and art and help paint a community that is welcoming, that is diverse, that is inclusive.”

Anne-Marie Coughlin, vice president of talent for the Greater Wichita Partnership, said first impressions are important for long-term growth.

“Research … has found that when someone experiences a place firsthand, they’re much more likely to consider moving there,” Coughlin wrote in an email. “If we can help interns have the best summer experiencing the unique opportunities the Wichita region has to offer, our goal is that they accept a job offer or seek out job opportunities here after they graduate.”

A community of interns lives on the Wichita State University campus, and KMUW intern Katelynn McIlwain checked in with some of them after a few weeks of settling in. They shared their first impressions of Wichita, hopes for the future — some more certain than others — and advice for navigating through these formative years. 

They also talked about imposter syndrome, a pattern of doubting one’s accomplishments in fear of being exposed as a fraud.

This is a portrait of Jason Starkman.
Credit Katelynn McIlwain
Jason Starkman

 

Jason Starkman

Jason is from Albany, New York, and is a product control analyst intern at Koch Industries.

What have you thought of Wichita so far?

I think it's cool that Wichita has live music and stuff, and especially at a lot of bars. Random people just like to show up and stand there playing music. I don't know if it's like they're even booked or they're just like there, vibin’.

Have you ever been affected by imposter syndrome?

I'm sure that whenever you get to any professional field, you're just surrounded by really smart people who've been doing it much, much longer than you are. And I think that's really daunting.

You're really faking it a lot of the time. But then I think about how everyone is probably doing the exact same thing as me and that makes me feel a little better.

What advice would you give to another young adult navigating their future career?

Don't get bogged down, specifically over academic responsibilities. Stressing yourself out and spending all your time thinking about … one grade on one test and staying up till 6 a.m. every night in a week is not healthy or something you can sustain or just something you should do, in general. 

And while grades seem like the most important thing, especially when you're in college, once you go into the real world, it’s all about experience.

This is a portrait of Melanie Halem.
Credit Katelynn McIlwain
Melanie Halem

Melanie Halem

Melanie is from Apopka, Florida, and is a sustainability intern at Spirit Aerosystems.

What have you thought of Wichita so far?

Coming here, I was happily surprised. I'd never heard of (Wichita) before, so I didn't really know it was a city. I feel very comfortable here.

I saw a lightning storm a couple days ago, which was literally the coolest thing I've ever seen in my life. And so I think Kansas has pretty cool storms.

What are your career aspirations?

Right now, I want to go into advocating for climate policy. So that would look like being a political consultant … and making sure that campaigns on policy become reality, or policy becomes reality through campaigns. Or maybe I'd become an environmental lawyer or something and fight the big bad corporations.

This internship will help me because it's interesting to know what businesses want when they're trying to become more sustainable and what's attainable for them as they begin their sustainability process. So if they're trying to cut down on emissions, there's only so many ways that they can do that, while also making money. Hopefully I can use that (perspective) in the future if I'm advocating for certain policies.

What advice would you give another young adult navigating their future career?

Center people in any form of work, even if centering people means centering yourself. You can get stuck inside for a year and a half and lose all sense of time and purpose. And so making sure that you're focused on things that make you happy and that you're passionate about or advocating for other people is really beneficial and rewarding.

This is a portrait of Jose Andre Guevara.
Credit Katelynn McIlwain
Jose Andre Guevara

 

Jose Andre Guevara

Jose is from Guam and is an IT intern at Flint Hills Resources, a subsidiary of Koch Industries.

What have you thought of Wichita so far?

I've enjoyed Wichita so far … I particularly enjoy that everything's just very close by. At the very most, it would be a 20-minute drive. 

I enjoy the food a lot. I had high expectations coming in; it's been sort of met, to say the least. 

 

Have you been affected by imposter syndrome?

I do experience imposter syndrome. I realized there's a term for it a couple months ago, and I was like, “Man, that's what it's called.’”

If I'm being brutally honest, I don't feel like I deserve to be in the position I am in. But considering that I am where I am now, I'm just very appreciative of the opportunity that I've been given.

What advice would you give another young adult navigating their future career?

Control what you can control. There's a lot of things that realistically are out of our control. And we can worry about them, sure, but I feel like it's just a waste of energy and time.

 

This is a portrait of Sean Hamadziripi
Credit Katelynn McIlwain
Sean Hamadziripi shows his cheeseburger socks. Outside of aerospace, he enjoys art and fashion.

Sean Hamadziripi

Sean is from St. Louis, Missouri, and is interning with the avionics installation team at Textron.

What are your career aspirations?

I'm going to be in the aerospace industry, I guess that's the goal. I kind of want to work with more conceptual, new-line types of aircraft, stuff that's coming out and becoming more popular, like hovercrafts or different style jets that are not the typical looking ones. More modern, nice stuff.

Have you been affected by imposter syndrome?

I felt that pretty heavy inside. For me, it was more like, "Am I right for my career choices?" I felt like maybe I was having good, decent grades in some classes, but I still feel like I don't know if I'm good enough to finish. And also, when I finally am finished, am I going to be good at my job? Or am I making the right choices for me?

What advice would you give another young adult navigating their future career?

I know there's a lot of stuff going on in the world. But the hardest part is how that stuff is affecting you and your mental health or whatever it is.

So I think that the biggest thing is just don't forget about yourself and let yourself learn from every experience, and take it all in.

 

Katelynn McIlwain is KMUW's Korva Coleman Diversity in Journalism intern. She will be a senior this fall at the University of Missouri.