Summer internships provide invaluable experience for UNCP students

Rakyah Jacobs
Rakyah Jacobs, middle, visits with the Research Laboratories of Archaeology at UNC-Chapel Hill's Field School at an archaeological dig in Duke Forest

First-year UNC Pembroke physics student Sharon Daminabo is spending her summer teaching high school students the science behind rocket propulsion and design––proving it’s never too early to apply classroom learning to real-world experiences.

Daminabo is a summer intern at Haw River State Park, leading youth camps focused on archeology and the animal kingdom and assisting rangers with species and boundary management.

“These projects have helped me learn and discover new things that will certainly help me with my academics,” Daminabo said.

Daminabo is among scores of UNCP students gaining invaluable real-work experience and career preparation through experiential learning opportunities this summer. Sophomore business student Rakyah Jacobs has been engaging with state dignitaries and tribal leaders as part of a 10-week paid internship with the N.C. American Indian Heritage Commission through the N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.

“This internship has allowed me to network with individuals across the state, which has helped me improve my public speaking skills,” Jacobs said. “I’m involved with several projects, including helping create a Toolkit to be used across the state during Native American Heritage Month, which will feature children and adult books and resources you need to research scholarships.”

Today, UNCP joins WayUp––a job site and mobile app for college students––in celebrating National Intern Day. The Career Center at UNCP is a valuable resource for students as it connects them with recruiters through job fairs and networking events and sponsors workshops, which assist students in exploring different career paths.

“We are very proud of the work that our students are doing this summer,” said Jimarr Williams, director for Career Services. “Our students are gaining hands-on practical experience and developing career readiness competencies such as communication, critical thinking and problem solving. One of the major goals of the Career Center is to increase opportunities and participation in internships and other experiential learning activities. We have been busy this summer networking with community partners to continue providing quality internships for our students.”

Ranya Johnson is completing her second summer internship through the State Employees Credit Union (SECU) Public Fellows program. In 2022, she gained administrative experience at Pembroke Housing Authority. This summer, she’s a program coordinator overseeing 19 UNCP students placed at various internship sites.

“My main job is to ensure they have a great internship experience,” she said. “I’m coordinating professional development events and creating marketing materials for the program. So, this experience helps me learn how to facilitate conversations between different nonprofits, and I can see the experience from the intern and the supervisor’s point of view.”

Johnson, a marketing and political science double major, plans to leverage the knowledge she’s acquired in her future career in nonprofit marketing after graduation. She is passionate about seeking ways to combat food insecurities plaguing at-risk youth in urban communities.