Story by James Mayer '11, Fulbright Scholar
National Geographic was seeking summer interns and Ross Donihue ’11 (Waterville, Maine) and Slavisa Mijatovic ’12 (Banja Luka, Bosnia & Herzegovina) heard about it through the Macalester Geography Department. They applied and ended up living in Washington, D.C., attending talks by world-famous scholars and explorers, such as filmmaker James Cameron, and working on articles and maps for one of the most respected institutions in the world.
Donihue, an environmental studies and geography major, has used his GIS skills to create maps for National Geographic as an intern in their maps department. “I found GIS to be an effective and stimulating tool for taking complex data sets and making them into a simple visualization,” says Donihue. He recently finished a geotourism map of the Four Corners region of the United States, and now is working on a map of World Heritage sites.
Mijatovic, a geography and history major, works in the copy/research division of National Geographic magazine as a research intern, fact-checking articles before they go to publication. As part of his job, Mijatovic consults with experts on topics ranging from world population issues to poisonous plants.
His biggest challenge is “diving from one field to a completely different one every week," he says. "From different places, like Mongolia, Argentina, and Italy, to different topics altogether—population, National Geographic explorers, human health. The amount of knowledge one has to acquire in a matter of weeks is quite challenging, but ultimately very rewarding.”
Both Donihue and Mijatovic credit Macalester's Geography Department with giving them the tools to land such impressive internships with National Geographic. “The department is simply amazing, a very positive environment to learn in,” says Mijatovic.
Donihue hopes to continue working for National Geographic next year as a GIS contractor; Mijatovic is hoping to continue his work in population issues, or attend graduate school.