Adrian Gillem ’15, an international relations major, interned at the American Chemical Society this past summer. ACS is one of the largest membership-based scientific societies, with 160,000 members here in the United States and around the world. ACS brings together academic leaders and expert practitioners of chemistry and chemical practices to help share their research activities to the broader chemistry community. Adrian worked in their Office of Strategy Development in Washington, D.C. as the only intern in the office. His job was to “help conceptualize, operationalize, and materialize two separate “STEP” (Sociological, Technological, Economic, and Political) Scan reports for Latin America and India, to help determine factors that could support or undermine potential ACS marketing plans.” While not the typical international relations internship, Adrian says that this internship has potentially changed his future plans.
Through this internship, Adrian highlights three important things that he learned: independence, networking, and adaptability. Being the only intern in the office, Adrian was given more independence with his tasks than he had originally anticipated. Because of this independence, he had to go out and learn much of the material on his own. “Three fourths of my time was spent traveling around Washington D.C. procuring and/or hosting individual meetings with experts,” he said. By meeting all these experts, Adrian was able to forge professional relationships and networks, which will aid him in obtaining a job after graduation. He stresses over and over again that he is NOT a chemist, and that this internship helped him learn how to adapt to challenging positions. “It took me a while before I became comfortable working with scientists who see the world in a completely different way than I do,” he said.
After completing this internship, Adrian thinks that he might pursue a career in association work, possibly as a strategy development associate. Initially, he was hesitant to accept an internship that seemingly had no connections to his future plans, but his optimistic attitude led him to an amazing opportunity of learning and growth. His advice to anyone seeking an internship in Washington, D.C. or anywhere: Do not let the name of an organization sway you from applying for an internship with them. Oftentimes, the best things are found in unexpected places.