At Briar Cliff University, we know internships and hands-on professional experiences do more than satisfy a class requirement – they set our students up for success. For National Intern Day, we asked four Chargers about their experiences during clinical rotations and at International Paper, Rio Tinto and Viator House of Hospitality.
Rafael Lopez (’20)
Doctor of Physical Therapy
Clinical Rotation at MercyOne Siouxland Medical Center
Born and raised in Arizona, Rafael moved to the Midwest in 2013 to start his journey towards becoming a physical therapist. He returned to Mesa, AZ for his first clinical rotation as part of Briar Cliff’s Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program with GSC Therapy Services and is currently completing his second rotation at MercyOne Siouxland Medical Center in the physical medicine and rehabilitation department.
Rafael said the clinical placement process is one of the best parts of Briar Cliff’s DPT program. DPT students can select their clinical rotations from established clinical education sites throughout the country and have the opportunity to create contracts with new sites.
Clinical rotations are essential for DPT students because it provides an opportunity to grow as healthcare providers while discovering their preferred clinical setting. “The physical therapy profession offers a variety of settings to practice in. When choosing my clinical placements, my goal was to challenge myself to become a well-rounded therapist,” said Rafael. “I selected clinicals that focus on treating diverse populations ranging from sports to geriatrics to medically complex.”
Aside from enhancing clinical reasoning and gaining experience, Rafael has found clinical rotations have taught him the importance of building positive rapport with patients and the significant impact it can have on the outcome of their therapy. While this is known by most students going into their clinicals, he found that observing it firsthand confirms the magnitude of its importance.
Rafael advised students selecting rotations keep an open mind and set aside personal biases. “There is a wealth of knowledge to take in, and you cannot predict when or who you will learn from. Embrace the challenges and put forth your best efforts, and patients will notice you care.”
Luisa Ramirez (’21)
Accounting, Business Administration and International Business
Internship at International Paper in Washington, D.C.
Luisa served as a government relations intern for International Paper, one of the world’s leading producers of packaging and paper products, in Washington, D.C. during the summer of 2019. In this position, she provided assistance on key projects including policy issues, communication, management and analysis for the organization. She learned about this one-of-a-kind internship from the Department of Business Administration who heard about it from President Karstens. After a vetting process, Luisa was selected and started her D.C. journey.
“I am humbled to have had this opportunity to learn firsthand what it means to be an activist for the communities that International Paper advocated for,” she said of her experience. “I have learned to be more confident in my abilities and have gained an amazing network.”
During her internship, Luisa met with professionals from a variety of fields and industries and established relationships that can help her succeed after graduation. “Internships are crucial at both a professional and personal level. To have no experience is unattractive to a potential employer, so it helps to have some experience – even if it isn’t in the same field – when searching for a job and to broaden your perspectives,” Luisa said.
“On a personal level, you meet people with amazing stories and different backgrounds willing to help you succeed. You may never know who could help you become the person you always dreamed to be.”
Aedan Hickey (’21)
Accounting and Business Administration
Internship at Rio Tinto in Washington, D.C.
Aedan spent the summer with Rio Tinto in the company’s business and government relations department. The second largest mining company in the world, Rio Tinto has mines in over 30 countries where they mine for minerals like aluminum, copper and iron. Aedan’s professors in the Department of Business Administration at Briar Cliff informed him about the opportunity and encouraged him to pursue it by applying to The Fund for American Studies.
While in D.C., Aedan was able to witness the communication process between businesses and governments both at home and abroad to address concerns and ensure compliance. He saw firsthand just how crucial networking and teamwork is to helping this process run smoothly. “Forming and maintaining relationships are key to a business’s success,” he said. “Teamwork is having a shared vision in which everyone is aligned and works toward the same goals.”
As he prepares to return to The Cliff, Aedan is thankful for the opportunity to learn and grow in a professional setting. “My experience at Rio Tinto has given me the opportunity to acquire skills and knowledge while taking on responsibilities and creating value for the organization. It has been an excellent introduction to what companies expect from their employees.”
He offered this advice for students pursing internships: “Ask questions – you aren’t expected to know everything on your first day. Show initiative, take responsibility, be accountable for your tasks and ask for help when you need it.”
SolAngel Lozada (’19)
Internship at Viator House of Hospitality in Des Plaines, IL
SolAngel’s internship assisting young immigrant men at the Viator House of Hospitality in Des Plaines, IL helped her grow not only as a social worker but as a person. “I have learned to appreciate all things, big or small, and value the human race even more,” she said. “So many of us take what we have for granted, and these men come here with just the clothes on their back. They are from different parts of the world and speak different languages but live in this house like family and share an unspoken understanding for one another.”
As a social worker, her experience opened her eyes to the complexities of working with different populations and the importance of understanding diversity in a community. Her advice to students looking for internships is to look outside the box for a life-changing experience.
“Try something that makes you uncomfortable. The option that makes you nervous may be the one that helps you grow the most,” said SolAngel. “Working in a men’s shelter made me nervous at first, but I learned a great deal and am so grateful to have spent my time at the Viator House of Hospitality. They tell me they were lucky to have me, but I am the one who was lucky to have them.”