"I feel any work experience is valuable preparation for the real world and while the economy may not be booming, the experience of finding an internship and completing it does give me confidence in my ability to find a job and keep it."
Program of Study: Spanish and International Relations
Internship: Council on Hemispheric Affairs
Location: Washington, D.C.
Briefly describe your internship and your responsibilities as an intern.
While I did complete typical "internship duties" like answering phones and stuffing envelopes, I also did much more. My primary responsibilities were actually to research and write about current affairs in Latin America, coming up with accurate information and insightful analysis
How did you find your internship?
I actually asked Nick Brown for help. He has books full of internships students have completed in different areas in the past. The Council on Hemispheric Affairs was there, so I looked it up and applied. I also found the CDO particularly useful, not as much in terms of finding possible internships but as far as preparing to apply to them.
Why did you choose your internship? What factored into your search and applying?
I chose this internship primarily because of the research component. I am particularly interested in Latin America. Also, the location in Washington, D.C. allows you to be close to much of the decision making action.
What were you most apprehensive about going into your internship?
I had heard that the director could be a challenge to work with. To a certain extent, this was absolutely true. But it is also true that he is a brilliant man who, despite his age, has not lost his spark or his capacity to analyze foreign affairs.
What did you hope to gain from your internship experience?
I wanted academic work experience. I already had work experience, but not in anything that would contribute to my building a career.
How did your internship experience influence your academic and career interests/goals/plans?
My academic interests were more influential in my choice of an internship than the other way around. However, while I still don't know exactly what I want to do after graduation, it has added to the weight of my desire to work in something relating to international affairs or Latin America.
What were the most challenging aspects of your internship?
I appeared on Univision to discuss the June 28 coup in Honduras. As the youngest person and the only female in the studio, I felt at a distinct disadvantage, mostly due to the cultural norms associated with those two facts. However, I felt I did rise to the occasion and hold my own in the discussion.
What were most rewarding aspects of your internship?
The Univision appearance, for sure, tops the list. But I also gave an interview on the Jamaican Breakfast Club and wrote numerous research memoranda. One moment that sticks out is when my director read one of my pieces and then told me had underestimated me.
Any funny/embarrassing things happen during your internship?
Of course. My director is an 80 year old man with horrible penmanship. Just trying to decipher his notes was generally a source of entertainment.
How do you feel your internship prepared you for the real world?
I probably won't go into research. I want to do something more active. But I did get a certain sense of an office environment and of a daily commute. I feel any work experience is valuable preparation for the real world and while the economy may not be booming, the experience of finding an internship and completing it does give me confidence in my ability to find a job and keep it.
What advice would you give to students to help them make the most of their internship experience?
Take advantage of every opportunity you are offered. If you are bored, find something to do. Even if something seems intimidating, try it. It can be incredibly rewarding. It can also leave an impression on your supervisor, who has the potential to write you a good recommendation letter. But I wouldn't worry as much about that as about making the most of your internship and learning what you can from it. It is a resume builder, but it is also a potential source of personal development.