I am a lucky duck. My plans for this past summer, both the ones which came to fruition and the ones that did not, had the potential to be (and were) incredibly beneficial to my future. My friends call me an “overachiever.” I prefer to term it as something more along the lines of, “proactive.” My first idea was a summer job with some of my friends at Rehoboth Beach in Delaware. Who could want more? Friends and the beach sounds like paradise to me, especially since I would be paid to work there. But, as I sat at my desk job in March, I realized that I wanted to be further discovering my field. So, in a frenzy, I applied for summer internships. And as a freshman, I was exceedingly lucky to land an internship with Global Solutions Pittsburgh (GSP).
As part of the College of Liberal Arts, students are required to have at least one internship but are encouraged to do more. I decided to discover more by delving into the nonprofit industry. GSP is one such, concentrating on education the western PA area on international issues. In my internship, I would be working toward lofty goals of helping people around the world, perfect! I envisioned a smooth road—learning everything there is to know about small nonprofits and having a direct impact on thousands of people by summer’s end.
Whoops. The sparkling ideas in floating in my mind failed. The first few days and the first few tasks were awkward; I overdressed, and my first assignment was filing financial forms. However, I realized that this is just like any other internship. GSP and all other companies would not function without the small, menial tasks. That’s what interns are for. As a friend of mine who works as K&L Gates commented, “Interns learn more by observation than by direct action.”
And happily, I didn’t just do the everyday assignments for the entire summer. I learned about grants while researching foundations and editing letters of inquiry. I got to apply one of my favorite hobbies, photography, at a few GSP events throughout the summer. (I’ll actually be taking on the role of photographer again for their winter fundraiser on December 6th.) I also began my journey toward important skills which cannot really be drilled into our heads by a professor, like networking. In fact, I got involved with my favorite organization on campus, Students for Human Rights, while networking at the GSP Spring Fundraiser.
Here’s some advice. Go to Career Services events. There aren’t classes in letters of inquiry, intent, cover letters, resumes. That’s the job of Career Services. They are there to tell us what is appropriate to wear for given types of companies. They are there to instruct us how to write a fabulous cover letter and to make our resumes shine. DO IT. GO, NOW. They usually have food at their events, too. And who doesn’t like food?!
So I skipped out on the tides of the Atlantic this summer. But while I was in a frenzy applying for internships, I realized that, as long as I am doing something, I am being proactive—working toward my future in a positive way. Maybe next summer I’ll go make some money at the beach and volunteer for another international nonprofit. I am so thankful to GSP for giving me a chance to work for them and gain some experience.
NOW GO CHECK OUT CAREER SERVICES!
Have a great day,