In May, thousands of University of Virginia students shared a collective sigh of relief as they turned in their final exams of the spring semester, signaling the official beginning of summer break.
For many, the next three months were dedicated to family vacations, returning to a summer job and a mental recharge. But in the spirit of continual learning, they also were busy taking summer classes, volunteering for nonprofits, completing internships and traveling abroad.
Nick Molloy, a member of UVA’s Class of 2013 who is returning to Grounds this month as a graduate student in the Darden School of Business, seized the opportunity to take his business and economics skills to Nicaragua. There, he helped with a model farm project that taught modern and innovative techniques to local farmers and also served as a consultant for directors of a donations-based personal business fund.
“I unfortunately did not study abroad while at UVA and I had been kicking myself ever since, until this trip,” Molloy said. “Hands down, it was the best experience of my life. It was a huge accomplishment to get people with no real access to education to learn about income, expenses, investing and saving for the future.”
Several other undergraduate and graduate students across Grounds found opportunities abroad to conduct research, engage in service learning or complete internships. Ingrid Hakala, director of the Office of Global Internships at UVA, said her department helped place 49 students in internships with 33 different employers in 27 cities, 21 countries and six continents this summer.
“An international internship, ideally, will give a student the opportunity to participate in and appreciate everyday practices of professional life in other cultural contexts,” Hakala said. “These experiences can disrupt taken-for-granted assumptions of what work is and should mean, and this helps students to think more expansively and creatively about their skills, interests and professional futures in relation to an intensely globalizing world.”
Additionally, Dudley Doane, director of the International Studies Office, said that 1,105 UVA students were enrolled in credit-bearing, education-abroad activities over the summer.
While some students were boarding planes to work experiences in countries like China, Morocco, India and Spain, others opted to get their feet wet right in their backyard.
Grant Schwab, one of 16 Parents Fund Internship Grant recipients, completed an internship with the Local Food Hub, a nonprofit that aims to increase the Charlottesville community’s access to local food.
Each year, the Parents Fund program provides financial support to rising third- and fourth-year students who are seeking unpaid internships in public service.
Several other grant recipients spent their summers in the nation’s capital, fulfilling internships with organizations such as the U.S. House of Representatives, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Justice, and many more.
Though several departments at UVA work to place students in internships, some students independently search for and secure summer work with the intention of advancing their skills in ways that align with their career aspirations.
Michael Rueda, a rising fourth-year student, discovered the NASCAR Diversity Program online and was chosen to spend his summer as a marketing intern with Roush Fenway Racing in Charlotte, North Carolina.
“I’ve always been really interested in working in sports, so this internship was key,” Rueda said. “Internships are great because they enable you to meet so many people and put the skills you learn in the classroom to use.”
During the summer, UVA students submitted photos depicting their unique experiences. Here’s a glimpse at what #MyUVASummer looks like on Grounds, around the country and throughout the world.