Career Moves: Krishfield finds a new passion — and a new career goal — during winter-term internship

The Student Professional Development Center helped Elon senior Laura Krishfield locate the Ocean Mammal Institute internship, and determine a new career path.  

​Laura Krishfield '18 had planned to be a meteorologist. That was before a life-changing experience at the Ocean Mammal Institute in Hawaii. 

Participating in a winter-term internship at the institute she secured with the help of the Student Professional Development Center, she developed a passion for marine science while tracking whale behavior to study the impact of human marine activities on whales. The center helped her locate the internship, which was posted on the Elon Job Network, and then helped equip her with the professional services that allowed her to stand out as a candidate for the position. 

It was at the institute in Hawaii that she found not just a winter-term experience, but a new passion to build a career protecting the environment. 

Krishfield is featured in a series of profiles on the recent experience of students and alumni who work alongside professionals in the Student Professional Development Center to explore career interests, build strong resumes, find job and internship opportunities, prep for interviews, craft graduate school application materials, and more.

She recently answered questions from the SPDC about her experience.

Who did you work with to prepare for your internship, and what help did you receive from the Student Professional Development Center?

Before applying for the internship, I met with Sara Cone to review my resume. She helped me edit the language and improve its appearance. Together we distinguished my valuable past job experience that would pertain to the internship's role in addition to exemplifying the skills I possess that would be helpful in fulfilling the internship's duties. 

It was easy to schedule an appointment with the office, and Ms. Cone was very willing to follow up with me once the changes in my resume were made.

I also met with Debby Wall who helped me register my internship for credit. Her excitement for my internship created a welcoming atmosphere that made the process of registration smooth and pleasant.

What recommendations would you share with other students about the Student Professional Development Center?

I cannot emphasize enough the value of the resources the Student Professional Development Center provides. This internship opportunity was posted on The Elon Job Network, which linked me to the company's website and information.

Before declaring my major, I used the online MyPlan personality and career tests to gain a better understanding of my interests, skills, and ultimately, my career goals. Additionally, I used the "What Can I Do With This Major?" resource to learn ways to achieve my career goals.

How did your interest in the internship develop?

I first saw the internship posting on the Elon Job Network during my sophomore year. I knew right away that the internship was a great opportunity, and I made it my top internship prospect.

Tell me about the company and your role as an intern.

The Ocean Mammal Institute's 2018 Hawaiian Humpback Whale Internship Program, instructed by Dr. Marsha Green, allowed me to participate in an ongoing study of the impact of human marine activities, including noise pollution, on whales. The program, lasting from Jan. 2 through 19, took place during peak whale-breeding season. I attended lectures about human effects on the environment and how human psychology affects the decisions we make about the environment. The program emphasized how we can create meaningful change and raise the consciousness about environmental issues. I collaborated with others conducting shore-based research using a theodolite to track whale behavior and to develop a research paper to convey the results of an investigation.

What did you learned from the experience?

My biggest takeaway from experience was the importance of the human consciousness in relating to beliefs and the motivation for change. On one of our first days, we discussed the significance of our emotions and feelings when making decisions and, how they increase the rationality behind such decisions.  

The director emphasized that if we are to make a difference in trying to save the whales and improve our environment's health, we must apply both scientific research and a passion for change.

Although I had been familiar with the fragile condition of whales before the internship, I did not know how incredibly unhealthy our ocean waters are. The internship allowed me to gain extensive knowledge of fish populations, marine parks, the Endangered Species Act, globalization and a drive to study environmental toxicology with an ultimate goal to obtain a career that involves enhancing our understanding of the natural world's health about human impact.

I developed a passion for balancing human wellbeing with the protection of the environment in that I hope to encompass in my life's work.

Which faculty members did you work with to prepare and what help did you receive?

My faculty mentor, Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies Amanda Chunco, required me to complete a reflective journal throughout the internship and to prepare a presentation that I will deliver this March. I communicated with her while in Hawaii and met with her in person on Elon's campus. She answered my questions and collaborated with my internship supervisor about my grades.