Westminster Students Gain Valuable Experience Through Summer Internships

Westminster students are keeping themselves busy and gaining valuable career experiences through summer internships. Two of these students, rising seniors Gracie Koonce ’19 KAѲ and Riley Zack ’19 ΦΔΘ found their internships through their participation in the Blue Blazers Investment Committee. Below, they share their experiences and how Westminster has helped them unlock the power in their purpose. 

Riley Zack ’19 ΦΔΘ is double-majoring in Finance and Sports Entertainment Management. He is also a member of Phi Delta Theta, the Chief Executive Officer of Blue Blazers Investment Committee, President of the Intrafraternal Council, and a member of the Blue Jay tennis team and Student Foundation. This summer, he is completing an internship at Wells Fargo Advisors.

How did you find your internship with Wells Fargo?

I found this internship last summer when I visited Brock Ayers [’82 ΔΤΔ] and his intern Blake Harris [’18 ΔΤΔ]. That visit convinced me that this is something that I want to do for the summer and see where it would take me. Both of them helped me through the application process by answering any questions and generally helping me along.

What do you do each day?

My responsibilities for this internship are mostly preparing for and participating in meetings (both client and branch meetings), analyzing portfolios, and stock research, but I also do some cost basis analysis and other day-to-day tasks.

How has this experience shaped your perspective and plans post-graduation?

This internship has changed my perspective on what exactly is done by financial advisors and in the industry as a whole. Between managing different clients, what their client meetings entail, and the culture of the industry, this internship has really formed my view of wanting to work in this industry after graduating.

I have learned a lot so far from my internship, such as how to help clients achieve their goals—which is what financial advising really comes down to—and a lot of the responsibilities that come with managing client portfolios. This internship took what I learned in the classroom and Blue Blazers (where we are managing a portfolio worth about $675,000) and put it all into a real-world context.

After graduating, I plan on getting a job in investing and look at getting my masters in a few years.

How has Westminster helped you find your purpose?

Westminster has really helped me find my purpose all three years that I have attended the college so far, between all the organizations I am in and, in particular, the people I have met from those groups, whether they are alumni or other students.

The moment I really realized this was when Blue Blazers went to New York. The alumni we met there were incredible and really wanted to see us succeed. They helped to introduce us to people who can help us follow our dream careers (pursue our purpose) and were extremely down-to-earth. The trip was the culmination of the biggest thing that I’ve learned at Westminster, and that is this: dreams don’t just have to be dreams; at Westminster, they can become reality. All it takes is to reach out to alumni and other students. 

Gracie Koonce (left) with the Interpace Diagnostics team at the Digestive Disease Week (DDW) annual conference in Washington, D.C. During the conference, Interpace Diagnostics presented a poster entitled “Risk of Pancreatic Cystic Lesions Triaged by Clinical and Molecular Feature,” and sponsored an informational booth about their Gastrointestinal Pancreas Cancer Diagnostic Test, PancreGEN.

Gracie Koonce ’19 KAѲ is a Biochemistry major and Spanish minor. She plays soccer for the women’s soccer team, serves as the Member Development chair for Student Ambassadors, is a member of Kappa Alpha Theta, a Student Foundations guide, a Junior SGA senator, a Blue Blazers Investment Committee member, and a Westminster Honors College student, and she will serve as a Pi Chi recruitment guide in the fall.

How did you find your internship with Interpace Diagnostics?

During the Blue Blazers trip to New York City, I had the wonderful opportunity to meet with Westminster College Alumnus, Mr. Greg Richard [’88 ΔΤΔ]. After discovering my interest in science and medical devices, he asked if I’d be interested in an internship with Interpace Diagnostics, his cancer diagnostic test company, right outside of New York City. Of course, on the spot, I said I’d love to!

What are your responsibilities during this internship?

As a marketing and sales intern for Interpace Diagnostics, my summer duties include: attending the Digestive Disease Week and Pancreasfest conferences, creating a company-wide newsletter, compiling marketing resources into a catalog, visiting the Interpace Diagnostic lab in Pittsburgh, participating in marketing meetings and conference calls, completing sales representative training, and participating in “ride alongs” with Regional Account Managers (RAMs). On these field rides, I have the opportunity to observe the RAMs from both the gastrointestinal and endocrine areas of Interpace Diagnostics interact with doctors. Within the first three weeks of the internship, I visited numerous hospitals and physicians in Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and New Jersey, and am looking forward to more field rides with RAMs to New York City and Georgetown.

How has this internship changed or shaped your perspective?

This unique internship has changed my perspective and expanded my knowledge of possible career opportunities and professions available within the healthcare field. I have already learned and been exposed to so much. I feel very fortunate to have met and interacted with so many amazing people. From cutting-edge molecular technology to establishing relationships with professionals and physicians, I am learning skills, increasing my knowledge base, and establishing a network of mentors and references that can benefit me in numerous career paths, as well as enhance my personal development.

What are your plans for after graduation?

After graduation, I plan to either pursue a career in pharmaceutical sales/medical device sales or start the process of applying to dental schools.

How has Westminster helped you find your purpose?

Westminster has helped me find and pursue my purpose from the moment I first stepped on campus. I couldn’t thank Westminster alumni, staff, and faculty enough for truly caring and actively investing in me and my future. Specifically, I am very thankful for the advice, encouragement, generosity, and support from Bob Muehlhauser, Dr. Mike Amspoker, Dr. Dawn Holliday, Dr. Matt Greaves, and Coach Jen Dyson. Without Blue Blazers and alumni Brock Ayers and Greg Richard, this invaluable internship opportunity and exploration of an exciting career path would not have been possible. Thank you, Greg Richard and Interpace Diagnostics for the summer of a lifetime!

Learn more about internships at Westminster through the Center for Career Development.

Join other Westminster alumni in mentoring current students through the Westminster College Career Network.

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