With the colder temperatures setting in and the holiday season upon us, summer might seem like a distant memory. Yet, just three short months ago, I was finishing up my summer employment at Eppley Institute for Parks and Public Lands, a division of the Recreation, Park, and Tourism Studies Department within the School of Public Health. I first learned about Eppley Institute when they partnered with the School of Public Health to bring Gil Penalosa to campus to speak about his organization, 8 80 Cities. Mr. Penalosa is an international leader in parks and physical activity promotion, which was perfectly aligned with Eppley’s mission. Given my background in hospitality and tourism management and my current work in public health, it just seemed natural to apply for a project support staff position at Eppley a few months later. I should also note that the power of networking played a role in my decision to apply, as I had met the executive director of Eppley, Steve Wolter, at various events throughout the spring semester.
The experiences I gained over the summer have had a huge impact on my education at Indiana University. I was fortunate to be involved in community-based research, ranging from data collection and entry, to analysis and creation of reports for Eppley’s clients. Working alongside a talented team of professionals on a daily basis taught me skills beyond those I have learned in the classroom.
So, why am I writing about summer as we wrap up the eleventh month of the year? Well, it is never too early to start planning for the next summer. If you want to progress in your career, start talking to professionals now. Network as much as you can and learn about the employers in your community. You never know—an internship next summer could lead to a job offer when you graduate! I was lucky that my summer employment led into something bigger, as I am now a visiting research associate at Eppley Institute and am getting more and more involved in projects on a national level. As students, we often view holidays and breaks as opportunities for rest and relaxation, but we can also use them strategically to gain practical knowledge and advance in our careers.
Have a very wonderful Thanksgiving and safe travels to those visiting family and friends!
Learn more about 8 80 Cities from the Creating Vibrant Cities for All Podcast on the School of Public Health’s website.
Derek Herrmann is a second-year Master of Public Health student with a concentration in physical activity and also a visiting research associate at Eppley Institute for Parks and Public Lands. He studies the role of the built environment in active living, with additional interests in parks and recreation and arts and cultural development.