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Illinois State student explores maternal and reproductive health during summer internship

Ariel Williams with other Project Imhotep summer interns

Sometimes, a lifetime opportunity starts with a simple Google search. This was the exact case for community health promotion and education major Ariel Williams, who found out about Project Imhotep from a Google search. Project Imhotep is a summer internship program sponsored through a cooperative agreement between Morehouse College and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Office of Minority Health and Health Equity. As she continued her research on internships, she discovered and applied for the opportunity with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Ariel Williams at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention

Ariel Williams at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Williams gave this opportunity a shot and was selected after the application process.

“Each applicant has to answer a total of seven essay questions accompanied with an official transcript and two letters of recommendation,” she said. “After applications are reviewed, applicants receive an email letting them know whether they were chosen for a phone interview or not. The phone interview is a panel of potential mentors, who will be deciding if they want to take you on.”

The interview provided Williams the perfect opportunity to discuss her passion and interest in public health as well as activities and projects she had participated in.

After successfully going through the interview process, Williams was matched with a maternal and reproductive health epidemiologist in Cincinnati and a tasking project which spanned eight weeks.

“My project was to conduct an exploratory evaluation of maternal death in the city of Cincinnati,” she said.

Ariel Williams at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention

Ariel Williams

Internships provide a great opportunity for students to build their confidence and start making connections that remain with them throughout their careers. For Williams,

“My biggest career lesson was to be confident in my work,” Williams said. “I doubted myself various times because I lacked experience in some areas. But once that passed, I was able to produce excellent quality of work.”

Finally, Williams has a piece of advice for students aspiring for great internships.

“Do not be intimidated when applying,” she said. “Be intentional about the groups and RSOs (registered student organizations) you join. The experience you build will matter to your potential bosses or mentors.”