It was still dark when LSA sophomore Sebastian Kasparian woke. He was out of bed at 5 a.m. and, by 6:30, on the boat where he works. It took a few hours for Kasparian’s boat-bound research team to reach the site in the Adriatic Sea where they intended to search, scan, and count dolphins, and to observe and record the dolphins' behavior. By the time they got back, it was almost evening.
“I was pretty sore the next day,” Kasparian says, noting how much he enjoyed the outing and the work he does on his internship for the Adriatic Dolphin Project in Croatia. “Doing that kind of thing definitely makes me feel like this is the nitty gritty stuff, that this is an unadulterated version of work.”
The Adriatic Dolphin Project works to document and research dolphins in the Adriatic Sea in order to better understand their behaviors, populations, and habitats. The bottlenose dolphins that Sebastian works with are endangered, and the project’s mission of biological preservation spoke to him. He says having a mission makes those ten-hour days on the boat worth it.
“I really like that now I have some experience with trying to tackle conservation issues in the real world rather than just talking about different issues and the things that we are and aren’t doing to fix them,” Kasparian says. “I definitely feel like I made a good choice, choosing to come here.”
Like hundreds of other LSA students, the LSA Opportunity Hub gave Kasparian the vital connections, coaching, and support he needed to connect his academic interests to his professional aspirations. LSA gave over $1 million last summer in financial support for students like Kasparian, who received money to help pay for travel, lodging, and other expenses during his internship. Kasparian himself received support from the Samo Alajbegovic Fellowship, which supports immersive internship experiences in countries that touch the Adriatic Sea.
The LSA Opportunity Hub Internship Bank lists thousands of positions, and many take place overseas, including opportunities on five continents and ones hosted by 100+ global LSA alumni. This summer students are working to strengthen their career prospects and improve the world through positions with places such as the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice, Herman Miller Japan in Tokyo, and the Post-Conflict Research Center in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
International positions help students advance their careers and build stronger cultural competency skills. They work alongside people who might not speak the same language, and might not have the same professional expectations.
Kasparian says that his experience—from the long days on the boat to the data crunching at his desk—has been invaluable to him as he figures out what he wants to do in his life and work.
“I learned what it’s like to be part of a research team,” Kasparian says, “to be involved in all aspects of the research process. I was out there on the boat doing data collection, then I was back in the office analyzing it and giving presentations. You get used to working with different people to figure out different things, to using your relationships to expedite the process of whatever problems need solving that minute.”
This article is part of an ongoing series on the LSA Opportunity Hub’s internship season. The Hub’s internship program is a first-of-its-kind project, connecting liberal arts students’ academic work to real-world experience through the Hub’s massive internship databank and global network of alumni and resources. You can read more about internship season here.