St. Olaf College | News

Hershey provides a sweet summer internship for St. Olaf student

In addition to gaining valuable hands-on experience, Katherine Fitzgerald ’15 is earning academic credit for her summer internship with the Hershey Company.

Katherine Fitzgerald ’15 has landed a sweet internship this summer — but her work at the Hershey Company has nothing to do with chocolate Kisses.

Fitzgerald is one of two interns organizing the final event of the Hershey’s Track and Field Games. The largest youth sports program of its kind in North America, the Games hosts hundreds of thousands of competitors every year and culminates with the North American Final in Hershey, Pennsylvania.

“The meet is one of Hershey’s largest and most celebrated initiatives, built in the company’s heritage and mission to improve the well-being of children,” says Fitzgerald, who is working with the iconic chocolate company’s Corporate Communications and Corporate Social Responsibility Department.

Fitzgerald’s work involves coordinating with USA Track & Field, the national governing body for those sports, to plan — down to the minute — the schedule of events for the North American Final. But Fitzgerald says her internship is about more than just organizing a major athletic event.

“Although it seems unrelated, working and focusing on corporate communications and corporate social responsibility is a perfect marriage of my sociology/anthropology major and management studies and media studies concentrations,” says Fitzgerald.

“It allows me to work in a large-scale corporate setting with matrix management systems where I can utilize the skills I learned from management studies. Since I am working in corporate communications, I am able to put theoretical readings from media studies to practical use. And I have the opportunity and resources to work with Hershey to give back to the community, both locally and across the globe, tying in sociology and anthropology.”

Fitzgerald registered her internship for academic credit through the St. Olaf Piper Center for Vocation and Career. As part of St. Olaf’s commitment to supporting students as they navigate potential career paths, the Piper Center offers numerous resources to help students secure internships that will enrich their studies and help them hone their professional skills.

Last year 151 students earned academic credit for their internships. In addition to providing students with the ability to register their internships for academic credit, the Piper Center offers students funding for unpaid or underpaid internships.

Fitzgerald is working with Associate Professor of Theater Bill Sonnega, who directs the college’s film and media studies programs, to put her internship into an academic context and prepare a final project.

“With Professor Sonnega’s guidance, I’m working on identifying how this can fit into my future plans,” Fitzgerald says. “It’s a wonderful opportunity for me to learn transferable skills that will carry me through life, as well as discover more of what I want to do with my career.”