Internship helped Kai Stallings confirm calling

May 14, 2024

Kai Stallings saw a little bit of themself every day during her internship.

Stallings, a WPU biology major scheduled to graduate in December, logged 120 hours in the spring at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in the naturalist center.

Stalling is a Raleigh native who went to high school (Raleigh Charter) not too far from William Peace University. She grew up going to the downtown museum. When she started her internship, the little faces that came into the naturalist center reminded Stallings of her younger self.

“Seeing the curiosity, especially in younger children, and them just being like ‘woah, this is so cool!’” Stallings explained. “I reflected when I was little and going there and learning stuff. Now being able to share with the new generation of bright young minds has just been so awesome.”

Internships at WPU

Internships are a key part of the curriculum at WPU. Nearly 100 percent of traditional undergraduate students complete an internship as part of their studies. Students take internship courses that prepare them with skills such as resume writing and mock interviews. During the semester they intern, they meet with a class regularly to discuss what they learned. Stallings said the internship has been a critical part of her education. 

“I didn’t feel like I was ready to go into the professional world, I had my classes, but I wasn’t prepared,” Stallings said. “With this [internship] I’m prepared, I’m ready after college to pursue this. It solidified what I wanted to do and also just how I’m ready for it.”

Stallings constantly went to the museum growing up, so they knew there were opportunities there. They went on the website, saw there were internship opportunities, and spent the spring discovering they had found her calling.

Stallings spent days engaging with guests in the naturalist center, a hands-on exhibit. Throughout the day, museum guests came into the room and were able to touch lifelike images of animals done by taxidermists. There are also fossils and rocks, with written material nearby so guests can learn more. 

Stallings got a chance to learn specifically about milk snakes, even writing the material for a booklet in the naturalist center for people to pick up and learn more.

That was the biggest takeaway from the internship.

“The ability to share with the public,” Stallings responded when asked what she got the most out of the experience. “I want to do field work and I want to be a researcher. Something a lot of people don’t recognize about that job is a lot of it is not just working with animals, but communicating with the public and being able to do that with those different age ranges has been really impactful for me.”


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