Post-grad Prep

CAFNR seniors prepare for careers through summer internships

Fitzpatrick1A Magical Summer: Kelly Fitzpatrick

Guest services, problem solving and Mickey Mouse were all in a day’s work at Kelly Fitzpatrick’s summer internship. Originally from Kansas City, the parks, recreation and tourism major spent her summer as a member of the Disney College Program in Orlando. Fitzpatrick said her favorite part of the program was making moments special for families from around the world.

“Not every vacationer that comes to Disney is in a good mood. As many happy guests as I worked with, I interacted with twice as many unhappy ones,” Fitzpatrick said. “I learned to work with everyone on an individual level and did what I could to fix any problems they may have been dealing with.”

With her emphasis in tourism development, Fitzpatrick took specialized classes at MU that helped her excel at Disney. She said her classes opened her eyes to all the possibilities that her career could take. Her Disney summer is already opening doors.

“I am now qualified to work with Disney on a professional level including its conglomerates like ABC and ESPN,” Fitzpatrick said. “I would never have those options for a career without participating in the Disney College Program.”

Conway1Working with Wildlife: Briona Conway

Briona Conway worked one-on-one with exotic animals and saw a giraffe born this summer as a Dickerson Park Zoo intern in Springfield, Mo. She enjoyed learning about animals individually and discovering their personalities.

Conway is an animal sciences major with an emphasis in captive wild animal management. In 10 years she hopes to be an education specialist working with animals, children and organizing outreach programs.

“A lot of the information I learned in the classroom can be applied directly into my desired field of work,” Conway said. “I was able to build upon that knowledge by working directly with the animals and zookeepers.”

Her classes and activities at MU gave her the foundation to succeed in her internship. Conway is involved in the Mizzou Black Women’s Initiative, Fluffy GRL, Desire to Aspire and Minority Recruitment Team.

The Milwaukee native is glad her professor, Trista Strauch, encouraged her to apply for the internship. Her summer was filled with feeding lemurs, interacting with hippos and a lot of hard work that Conway said will prepare her for her future career.

Dreher 1Cultivating a Turf Management Career: Brian Dreher

Brian Dreher began his internship search early because the plant science major knew he wanted experience in turfgrass management. This summer the Columbia native interned at the Lake Shore Country Club in Glencoe, Ill., a private course where he worked with two other interns.

“My favorite part of the internship was learning about every individual task – from mowing a green to operating a mini-loader,” Dreher said.

His work focused on fertilizing greens and fairways, multiple types of mowing, sod installation and turf watering. He said the most important lesson he took away from this summer was the importance of managing people. He would advise other plant science majors to gain as much experience as possible before they graduate.

During his internship search plant science professors Brad Fresenburg and Lee Miller helped him determine his career direction. Courses like turfgrass management and chemistry II, and were great resources.

“The biggest thing for me is being where I am happy,” Dreher said. “It doesn’t hurt to try new things, even as a senior who is about to graduate.”