International politics major reflects on Chapel Internship

Giselle Logan
April 12, 2018

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Approaching graduation and looking for potential jobs can be daunting, especially if it feels like you're going in the opposite direction of your major or what you initially planned for.

Traveling all the way to Seattle, Washington, to be an information technology intern with the Boeing Company was confounding for Jennifer Heckman, a senior majoring in international politics, primarily because she has a "non-technical major." Although the internship was outside of what is typically associated with the international politics field, it was more than just a 9-to-5 job for her. Heckman heightened her technical skills and was able to improve her analytical, communication and critical-thinking capabilities through the experience.

Boeing is the most substantial aerospace company around the globe and is the primary producer of commercial jetliners and space, defense, and security systems. Heckman, along with her peers who interned with Boeing, were encouraged to further their experiences and social skills outside of their cubicles.

"We were offered countless opportunities to network with other employees, tour the state-of-the-art machining facilities, and get involved in the local community," said Heckman.

All of those opportunities and experiences were crucial in making Heckman a viable resource for the Boeing Company. Throughout her internship, Heckman worked on a myriad of individual projects for her information security team and took part in Boeing's annual intern cybersecurity case competition, where her team came in second place.

"I was exposed to so many diverse areas of the Boeing Company and truly felt like an integral member of the team," Heckman said. "The exposure I gained working for a multinational corporation was instrumental in shaping my career goals."

Heckman, who will be graduating in May, will be moving to Washington, D.C., where she accepted an offer to join the Department of Defense.

One of the reasons she was able to live on the West Coast for the summer was because of the Chapel Executive Internship Program offered through the College of the Liberal Arts.

“My internship with Boeing was instrumental in ensuring I was as prepared as possible to accept the full-time offer with the DOD after graduation and provided an entirely new perspective," said Heckman. "I would highly recommend this program to Liberal Arts majors who are trying to decide between the private and public sector for their careers.”

The Virginia Todd Chapel Executive Internship Program was established by Virginia "Jinnie" Todd Chapel and her husband, John, with leadership gifts creating a $2 million endowment. The program provides $5,000 internship awards to about 15 students interning in the private sector each year, under the direction of the Career Enrichment Network in the College of the Liberal Arts.

"It can be a great way to gain exposure into the sector you have not had the opportunity to experience yet, while having some of the financial burden alleviated throughout your internship experience,” said Heckman. “Affordability is such a huge problem for so many Penn Staters, and this program helps students discover themselves and learn more about their career goals without having to worry about financial obligations.”

Liberal Arts majors who take part in a full-time internship in the business or private sector are encouraged to apply for the Chapel Executive Internship Program. The summer semester deadline is May 1. To learn more about the Chapel Executive Internship Program and the Liberal Arts Career Enrichment Network, visit

  • Jennifer Heckman

    "The exposure I gained working for a multinational corporation was instrumental in shaping my career goals," said Heckman.

    IMAGE: Penn State

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated April 13, 2018