On Capitol Hill, in Hollywood, and in the medical field, Arts and Letters students gain valuable skills and experience through summer internships

Author: Hailey Oppenlander

Shannon HennessyShannon Hennessy

From the U.S. House of Representatives in Washington, D.C., to FX Networks in Los Angeles, Notre Dame students gain valuable experience every year through summer internships.

While internships are an important opportunity to discern career paths or gain insights into fields of study, costs can deter many students from accepting them. To eliminate this barrier, the Center for Career Development offers grants that enable students to afford living expenses when accepting unpaid or low-paying internships all over the world. (Applications for 2019 summer internship funding are due April 29.)

‘So many direct connections’

Senior Shannon Hennessey wanted to supplement her American studies and honors history majors and Chinese minor with an internship that fit her personal interests.

“I knew that I liked helping people and being with people, and I liked working with content,” Hennessey said. 

Her internship at the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center in Washington, D.C., was the perfect blend of her passions.

“There were so many direct connections, especially with my American studies major,” Hennessey said.

Hennessey is of Chinese, Hawaiian, Irish, and Portuguese descent, making her work as a curatorial research assistant personally relevant and fulfilling. Her duties included conducting research for events and helping to develop a conference for elementary school teachers about the incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II. 

“It was awesome to be able to witness the important communication between educators in the field and the people who are trying to support them,” she said.

Hennessey also was able to see a wa’a, an ancient Hawaiian canoe that was given to the Smithsonian by a Hawaiian monarch. Being from Honolulu, this was a special moment for her — and one that helped shape her future plans. 

“It showed me how important my heritage is to me,” she said. “I feel like I’ve been away for too long, and I need to go back home and be grounded again.” 

Coming back to Notre Dame, Hennessey has realized how important it is to keep studying and learning about Asian Pacific American history. She has been able to apply the critical eye she gained from her time at the Smithsonian to many of her current classes, including courses on immigration in America and on American Indian boarding schools..

Hennessey is considering attending graduate school and pursuing a career in academia, as well as working for a nonprofit or museum — all opportunities that will allow her to learn more about her home and better serve her community.


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