Designing Core Course Week: Kenzie Zimmer, Academic Intern

The first travel break is in session now, and we are anxiously awaiting the photos and stories that our current students will come back with.

However, we want to catch up about Core Course Week – the week at the beginning of the semester, dedicated to bonding with core course classmates, seeing a new part of Denmark or a neighboring country, and meeting with experts and actors in the field to understand a topic even closer. Each core course experiences a different melange of seminars, academic visits, cultural experiences, and travels than the next. That’s why we met up with academic intern Kenzie Zimmer, who helps to organize Communication, Justice & Human Rights, Prostitution & the Sex Trade, and Gender & Sexuality Studies programs. Read on to find out what it is like to plan this unique week, from her perspective as an intern!

The Scoop:
: Kenzie Zimmer
Home University: Carleton College
DIS Program: Communication & Mass Media, Fall 2010
Before Interning at DIS: I interned in Minneapolis for a year for both Twin Cities Business magazine and Graywolf Press, an indie non-profit book publisher

Core Course Week Photo_Museum

What is it like to prepare for Core Course Week?

Preparing for Core Course Week is a juggling act! I manage logistics around class sessions and guest speakers, buy food and drinks for class socials, set up visits with local organizations and individuals, accompany students on visits, and keep track of the overall schedule for my department. I prepare groups for tour by buying gifts, sending visit confirmations, meeting with traveling faculty and staff, and presenting to students about the tour so they know what to expect when they travel together as a class. I’m never bored—one morning I might visit the Danish Red Cross, while in the afternoon I may meet with a new faculty to go over the travel schedule for Malmø, Sweden, and call a photography studio in Odense before a class get-together that evening.


You manage several programs that all have core courses – but there’s only one of you! What courses have you traveled with, and how was that decided?

I get a little bit of input regarding my preferences, but ultimately I am assigned to travel with core courses as needed by my program director. This is exciting since I’ve gotten to travel with two new programs (Prostitution and Sex Trade, Gender and Sexuality Studies) and one core course that has been around for many years (Strategic Communication). It is always fun to participate in the learning process even while you’re running around in the background, mapping subways, calling restaurants, and thanking speakers.

What is your role as a leader? What are the challenges of this? Tell us about your time as a student versus now as a leader.

Working at DIS especially during times like Core Course Week made me realize how different it is to return as an intern. As a leader, even if you’ve never been in the city before, you are the sole resource for transportation, timing, how long everything will take, where visits are located, etc. I’ve had to co-lead two tours to cities I was unfamiliar with, which meant I always had to be one step ahead and do a lot of behind-the-scenes research and planning, such as virtually walking through the entire week of tour on Google Maps street view!

Another challenge that is also an opportunity, is that as a leader you are acutely aware of the power of a single contact or visit. When you travel you represent yourself, your organization, and oftentimes, your country. I am always on the lookout for new connections, opportunities, and potential future visits, and I also try to impart this to students – even if you’re tired, or bored, a visit is a two-way street. Come prepared. Engage. Write the speaker a letter afterwards. You never know who might be a future job contact or who might be looking for an intern the next summer.

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