Experience MORE! Program Opens Window of Opportunity
An internship with the Delaware County Office of Sustainability through Widener’s Experience MORE! program shifted Stephen DiDonato’s ’24 career down a clear and sustainable route.
- College of Arts & Sciences
When he first came to Widener, Stephen DiDonato had a vague idea of what he wanted to do. The political science major contemplated law school but had little knowledge of the possible areas of practice.
After an internship with the Delaware County Office of Sustainability through Widener’s Experience MORE! Program — a new initiative that provides financial support to students who have unpaid or underpaid internships — Stephen’s career trajectory became clear. He found a path forward to blend political science, finance, and sustainability into a career.
The internship, according to Stephen, “showed me how environmental law and business can kind of work together.”
Before the internship, Stephen partnered with Widener’s Career Design & Development Office (CD&D) and the College of Arts & Sciences (A&S) to prepare for the application process.
“I didn’t know how to apply to jobs in an effective way,” Stephen explained, adding that Janet Long, executive director of CD&D, A&S Dean David Leaman and Assistant Dean Nicole Rayfield were “a tremendous help in teaching me how the job application process works.”
From working in an office environment for the first time, to conducting interviews with experts in the sustainability field, Stephen encountered new experiences at every turn.
“I had a lot of hands-on experiences where I would go out and interview either experts in a particular field or leadership at different parks and at different sustainability initiatives throughout the county,” Stephen said, adding that the internship “encouraged me to continue broadening my knowledge on sustainability.”
Through all the new and different experiences that he encountered through the internship, Stephen found that he had to learn to adapt.
“I need to adapt to a lot of situations at the internship and be able to learn on my feet quickly,” Stephen explained.
For instance, he immersed himself in specific areas of expertise, such as engineering, that he had no prior experience in. Through time and persistence, Stephen progressively became more familiar with the material until he reached a point where he was knowledgeable in that area and could utilize it for his work.
Through that, and similar instances of adaptation, Stephen drew similarities between his internship and undergraduate education at Widener.
“Going into class and not really knowing what’s going on at first, then figuring it out by adapting quickly by taking good notes and talking to the right people, was a big parallel I saw between the internship and Widener classes,” said Stephen.
Perhaps the biggest takeaway from the internship was the vast connections available through Widener, which Stephen experienced firsthand.
“Those connections are all over the place, and that there’s plenty of alumni in all places and industries that you can meet them and instantly have that close connection with them.”
These encounters provided Stephen with insight into the value of a Widener education.
“I didn’t really know what to expect when it came to the Inside Track, but now that I’m able to quantify it, I can see how my future career will be connected and what to look for,” said Stephen.