Hanna Cody @ Supporting and Mentoring Youth Advocates and Leaders (SMYAL) in Washington, DC
As I sit on the plane heading back to Minnesota, I can’t help but realize how wonderfully unexpected these past two months have been. I came to Washington D.C. excited, but completely unaware of how transformative this summer would be. My time at American University and SMYAL has helped me grow in my strengths as well as confidence. A week ago I successfully executed a donor cultivation event that I planned from start to finish all on my own; I have watched a taping of Meet the Press; I had breakfast with Senator Al Franken; I was quoted in Tagg Magazine, DC’s premiere lesbian publication; and I met countless amazing people, including my wonderful roommate. I loved my time here so much that I will be returning to American University as a participant in their Washington Semester Program for the fall. I could not be happier to return to this incredible city in three weeks. I honestly don’t know if I could ever sufficiently put into the words the experiences I’ve had and the lessons that I’ve learned this summer, but for the purposes of this blog, I will do my best to summarize.
This summer, I have learned that:
- Laughing makes you a better advocate. It can be easy to get bogged down, worn out or take yourself too seriously, and though putting in late hours at work can be good, being too tired to function isn’t. Taking care of yourself by taking time off work, or stopping to laugh with your coworkers gives you the energy to do your job better.
- We are very far from equality. My last weeks at SMYAL heavily focused on finding ways to engage queer women to become donors and get involved in supporting SMYAL’s programs. As we continued to brainstorm, it became increasingly evident that women were not involved in SMYAL, not for a lack of interest, but because our system (and probably the LGBT advocacy movement at large) was heavily geared towards supporting the needs of gay men. Even though our society is making strides towards equality, it is obvious that much more needs to be done to make sure that no one, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender, is underrepresented or ignored.
- Never pass up the chance to build a relationship. When working in any field, it’s inevitable that you’ll have to interact with people. It never hurts to take some time to grab coffee, learn more and start establishing a good relationship for the future.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for advice. Most people want to see you succeed and are more than willing to tell you about their experience. Take time to reach out and ask someone about the path they took to where they are today.
These lessons are applicable to anyone, anywhere, at any age or in any field, so I would hope that any student reading this would take some of this advice to heart. As I conclude this blog post and my trip, I have to thank everyone who made this possible either by conducting interviews, answering my never-ending stream of questions, or just assuring me that I would some day conquer the Metro (in case you’re wondering, I only got lost a few times… a week). This couldn’t have been possible without you, and for that I am extremely grateful.
Like many undergraduates, Nicole Franco knew her dream job would involve helping people, but felt unclear as to how she could do it. This past summer, she decided to intern at Christian HELP and learned a great deal about social entrepreneurship. She also gained experience in research, writing business proposals, and e-commerce.
Toward the end of the internship, Nicole even pitched and named the jewelry-making program she participated heavily in at this social entrepreneurship and sustainability initiative (SESI) designated site. She called it the Women’s Initiative for Sustainable Employment (W.I.S.E.). She denotes in a separate blog post, “The purpose of the jewelry program is to provide transitional employment for women who are active seekers by assembling jewelry and selling it online and in local boutiques.”
Below, Nicole discusses her duties in detail at Christian HELP and the skills she developed.
I can’t believe it’s already been a month since I started my internship. Time has flown by so quickly, yet I’ve learned so much within the first month. Today, I will be joining Royce, the program coordinator for social entrepreneurship at a networking event at the Citrus Club. It will give me the opportunity to work on one of my learning objectives of learning how to effectively network and create work relationships. It’s something different from what I’ve been working on for the past month, but I think it will be a great experience. It will enable me to gain a better understanding of how networking should be done and help me improve my communication skills.
Aside from networking, one of my major tasks has been to research. During my research, I have learned so much about the non-profit sector. It has enabled me to get a better understanding of how they operate and most importantly how they sustain themselves. Every now and then during my research, I have came up with several questions about non-profits. The great thing about doing an internship at a non-profit is the knowledge you receive by the hands on experience. I’ve learned about misconceptions and how to carefully select potential donors.
Another learning objective that I’ve been able to focus on is how to write business proposals. I had no idea the requirements for business proposals were so complex. In order to successfully write a business proposal, one must spend HOURS of researching to come up with specific details and come up with a logic model to facilitate the completion of the proposal. The constant changes or rewriting of the proposal is what makes it a lengthy process, but it’s definitely a gratifying feeling once all of the above has been accomplished.
One of the things that I most enjoy about my internship is that I am able to fearlessly throw my ideas to the table. It makes me feel as though my opinion is considered during the projects that are taking place. Since I have experience with e-commerce, my main focus has been on the jewelry line. Recently, I had the opportunity to join another member of the jewelry project on a “mini” shopping spree for jewelry making supplies at a local supply shop. Not only was I able to pick out supplies of my choice, but I was allowed to freely design pieces. I received positive feedback upon showing my samples to the women part of the jewelry project and other employees at Christian HELP. Creating the jewelry and doing extensive research has been one of my major accomplishments, as well as networking.
As a result of the internship, I am learning to effectively and fearlessly communicate my thoughts about projects, ideas, etc. It has enabled me to become even more passionate about social entrepreneurship. This experience has taught me so much in such a short amount of time. Not only has it enriched me but it has enlightened me. I always knew that I wanted to help the community, but taking part in the social entrepreneurship aspect of a non-profit has become my passion. I am grateful for this opportunity and can’t wait to continue learning and growing as a person.
Submitted by Ashley Williams, Career Services Graduate Assistant
This past summer, Rollins students interned in great numbers in a variety of settings around the globe. Over the holidy break, we wanted to share some of their experiences with you as they all had some very interesting experiences. Taylor Wejkszner left Pennsylvania after high school to attend Rollins for undergrad, returning home for her Summer 2013 Internship at Lehigh Valley Health Network. Despite going to school in Florida, her hometown network proved useful in securing the position with LVHN.
As an intern, Taylor worked 70-hour weeks, “waking up at 5am for 6:30am surgery,” interacting directly with patients, shadowing in multiple departments, and conducting her own research on robotic surgery. Here, she also offers insight into doctors’ self-care habits that best serve their patients in high-stress environments.
Taylor Wejkszner @ Lehigh Valley Health Network in Allentown, PA
As I pass the halfway marker of my internship, I cannot believe all I have accomplished in the last four weeks. Securing this internship at Lehigh Valley Health Network has not only been a blessing, but one of the most hands-on learning experiences I have had to date. Though in the past I have shadowed in many departments, such as Dermatology and Respiratory Therapy, I have never been able to get the opportunity to scrub in for surgery or have so much direct patient contact as I have in my current position.
I am beyond fortunate that I heard about this opportunity but feel as though now that I have had so many great experiences in this program, it is my duty of spread the word to other college students interested in the medical field. As a person who grew up in the Lehigh Valley but went out of state for college, it can be difficult to stay on top of open positions or opportunities available at home when I am in Florida nine months out of the year. I spoke with Jean Hoffman, Internship Coordinator for LVHN about researching where high school students attend college if they do not stay in Pennsylvania and sending out flyers about the research program to the school’s in that particular area. This will ensure that every student who has gone to high school in the Lehigh Valley has a fair shot at scoring such a great summer internship.
In addition to spending time in the Operating Room, Gynecologic Oncology doctor’s offices, and the Labor and Delivery floor at Lehigh Valley Health Network, I have also been in the process of collecting data for my research project which I present on July 26th. As of now, I will have all the data I need by the end of the week and then will be working with a biostatistician at the hospital so we can analyze cost of the hysterectomies, rate of readmission and complications based on type of surgery (i.e. robotic, laparoscopic or open) and post ICU times. With this analysis, the focus is to show the payback of performing robotic hysterectomies vs. open hysterectomies based on the economic and quality of life benefits. I chose to undertake this research topic because of the skepticism toward robotic surgery. Though it is a relatively new way to operate, it has repeatedly and consistently shown its advantages.
I have also had time to reflect on the learning goals I created in the beginning of my internship. I feel as though I have been able to accomplish most of my goals but still have a lot to learn before I can say I have what it takes to be a doctor. As I continue to read the book, Better: A Surgeon’s Notes on Performance by Dr. Atul Gawande the reality of the medical field and healthcare become more noticeable as I walk around the hospital each day. One of the most relevant topics in the book is how doctors cannot help patients if they do not take responsibilities for basic acts such as washing their hands in between each patient. The book goes into detail about the contentious history of hand washing in hospitals. Though rubber gloves are used in each examination, they do not substitute for using hand sanitizer in between patients. It is these simple rules that must be followed to allow doctors to continue to help patients and keep disease out of the hospital.
In addition, I have still been learning about the psycho-social aspect of being a doctor. After seeing 25 or more patients who are suffering from different forms of abdominal cancers, it is hard to go home and go back to everyday life knowing that 25 more people in this world may not see tomorrow. I spoke with Doctor Martino about this and he said it takes time before anyone who becomes a doctor can accept that he or she is only human and can never or will never be God. He said it never really sinks in until you lose your first patient. Though a sad fact, it is one everyone has to come to terms with.
Submitted by Elizabeth Boggs, Associate Director of Career Services
We all ask ourselves this question from time to time and what better way to get some answers than to participate in an internship! Rollins students started their Summer 2013 academic internships the first week of June and have shared their experiences from the first few weeks. Check out their first posts and learn about your friends and classmates who are interning all over the country with employers such as Clear Channel Radio Philadelphia, Mosaic Wealth Management, Lehigh Valley Health Network, Christian HELP Foundation, and many more!