Though summer seems like a lifetime away, David Kendall suggests that students start searching for their summer internships now.

That’s why Kendall, coordinator of the Career Networks Office, hosted an event on Tuesday evening with enFocus to equip students with the tools they need to search, find and obtain a “worthwhile professional experience,” said Kendall.

EnFocus, an organization located in South Bend and soon Elkhart, works with college students and recent graduates to help impact communities within the area. Each summer, enFocus hires 15 interns and then finds several government-owned entities and private organizations within the Saint Joseph and Elkhart counties for the interns to work with.

EnFocus offers 8-week internships to rising juniors, seniors and recent graduates, and year-long fellowships to recent graduates.

On Tuesday evening, Patrick Jones, program director at enFocus, explained that the organization’s main goal is to help build up communities by connecting “young talent” with other local organizations in order to solve complex challenges and better impact the area.

Jones explained that most of the projects that interns and fellows are asked to do involve problem-solving. For instance, last year Jones and a few fellows worked to figure out how to make the school buses in Saint Joseph county more efficient.

After Jones shared, Will Ceranec, a current fellow at enFocus, shared about his work with Vibrant Communities. At Vibrant Communities, Ceranec has worked on several projects. Since beginning his year-long fellowship, Ceranec has worked to create a film office, built a community dashboard and more.

Finally, Sara Boukdad, the internship program manager of the University of Notre Dame’s Bowman Creek Educational Ecosystem, which has worked alongside enFocus, shared about her experience. Boukdad said that in the past, she has worked with interns to help better South Bend by integrating stormwater management, turning vacant lots into tree nurseries, and finding ways to make the area more sustainable.  

“One of the best markers of our internships is that you can talk forever about the work that you do because you end up being so enthusiastic about it and so invested,” Boukdad said. “It’s a good indicator that it’s a meaningful experience that gives people purpose and direction in their careers.”

Despite many of the projects enFocus interns and fellows work on involve engineering and entrepreneurship, Jones said that a background in either of those subjects is not necessary.

“Part of our mission is to provide a learning opportunity through our internship,” Jones said.

Kendall echoed that learning is an integral part of any internship.

“A good summer internship allows students to experience the work involved at a professional organization,” he said. “Internships also give people the chance to get hands-on experiences and see what kinds of skills and disciplines are necessary in running an organization.”

Carter McKay-Epp, a senior preparing to graduate in a few months, said he was thankful for the event.

“I think that regardless of your plans after college or if you’re in college, it’s always good to see what kind of opportunities are out there and what people are expecting from students,” McKay-Epp said. “Events like this one are worth it.”

The next Career Networks event is Resume Your Resume on Feb., 21 from 4:00 to 5:30 p.m., in Wyse Hall.123. Lindsay Erba, talent acquisition director for The Bowen Center, will be returning to Goshen College to share more about resume tips.

Kendall said that “anyone in the process of or getting ready to write a resume won’t want to miss it.”