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"Always ask what more you can do. If you're getting bored, go ask your boss what else you can do. A lot of times, there's another project that can be started. Be on time; be present."

Program of Study: International Relations and Dance major Spanish minor
Career Interest: Work for a non-governmental organization or join the Peace Corps
Internship: Eleanor Roosevelt Center at Val Kil
Location: High Point, NY

Briefly describe your internship and your responsibilities as an intern.
I worked at the Eleanor Roosevelt Center at Valkil, at a girl's leadership workshop. I was a counselor and program coordinator, which entailed living and working with a group of girls. I helped them with their discussions; I made sure that they had nighttime activities. I also talked to the girls about my paper topic which was about how young girls, particularly 15 to16 year old adolescents, develop their political ideologies. They filled out a lot of questionnaires for me, and helped me in discussions. There were 2 sessions, and each session was jam-packed with different speakers. Some of the information I got was through talking to the speakers, then relating back to some of the responses I got from the girls.

How did you find your internship?
I had done the program when I was 15, and I knew that they had this position, so I figured that I'd just call the organization because I had been having so much trouble finding an internship. It turned out that the woman at the center needed someone to fill the position, and offered it as an internship. I got paid to do it also, so it really worked out. I didn't use the CDO resources at all, really.

Why did you choose your internship? What factored into your search and applying?
Well, a couple of things. First, it was a non-profit organization, and that's what I'm looking to go into. They were dealing with women's issues and political views, and that was important to me. And I knew it was a good program because I had done it myself, I was looking forward to making it a good experience for those girls just like I'd had.

What were you most apprehensive about going into your internship?
The girls, and how they were going to work together, and just the make-up and composition of the people I was going to be working with. I felt that if we weren't working smoothly, the girls wouldn't be able to either.

What did you hope to gain from your internship experience?
I kind of just went into it, looking forward contributing to something. Also, I was looking forward to seeing how adolescents work and applying it to what I was studying. I was also hoping to make more connections to something that I was already slightly connected to. That did work out, because at the end of it, I was told I should apply for my boss's position!

How did your internship experience influence your academic and career interests/goals/plans?
It was well structured through the political science and IR department, so we had to keep an online interaction with each other, and share our internship experiences with one other. Everyone else's was like, “I'm on Capitol Hill, doing a bunch of paper work,” and mine was like, “Yeah…I'm having a lot of fun with these girls.” Because of that, I realized that I like working in the non-profit sector, I don't want to work for government. I don't want to be “on the hill” and all that crap.

What were the most challenging aspects of your internship?
Working with my co-workers. They would complain about things not being done, but instead of putting energy into fixing it, they would just be in a fluster. The dynamics of personalities didn't quite flow. So, I did feel like somewhat of an outsider, and that was hard too, because we all lived in the same living spaces. But, we dealt with it and did our best to work together. At time, it just felt like I was doing so much of everything. When it came to time off, everyone got more time off than me because things needed to get done and no one else would do it, so I would stay and do it. But at the end of the program, my program coordinator said “I don't know what I would have done this summer, without you.” So it was worth it.

What were most rewarding aspects of your internship?
Obviously, being asked to apply for my boss's position as the Girls Leadership Workshop Head Coordinator. The connections between the girls and I was very rewarding. It was also cool to meet the speakers that they brought in. There was such a broad range of topics. Some were right down my alley, some weren't, some were in the same field I would like to be in. It helped me figure out where I wanted to be a little more.

Any funny/ embarrassing things happen during your internship?
Well, funny and embarrassing things happen all the time when you're working with kids. But nothing major.

How do you feel your internship prepared you for the real world?
It gave me a realistic perspective that you're not always going to work with people that you like. It also informed me that sometimes your boss isn't always on top of things. That was another hard part. My boss knew that I was the more responsible one, so she came to me with everything, and I'd end up doing a lot more work than everyone else. My co-workers complained all the time, my boss complained. I became really neutral, but very frustrated at times. But that happens.

What advice would you give to students to help them make the most of their internship experience?
Always ask what more you can do. If you're getting bored, go ask your boss what else you can do. A lot of times, there's another project that can be started. Be on time; be present. Even when you're not doing the hardest work, they note that you're focused and efficient. Which is another important thing, be efficient. They like people who are not wasting their time.

Ginnia Higgins