Year after year, I started to realize that there was no “perfect” internship out there for me. The opportunities provided by my advisors and professors were great, but didn’t necessarily cater to my specific interests. As I became more involved in my community, however, I saw that there were plenty of opportunities out there – they just weren’t outlined or set in stone for prospective applicants, because you didn’t even have to apply! I developed my first internship with the Bus Project when I jumped on board to help them with their campaign for Tuition Equity. Soon, I was helping them with everything from photography at events to participating in their candidate vetting committee. I learned about everyone’s work, and made so many connections along the way. I also started to work with CAUSA (Oregon’s Immigrant Rights Coalition), and my work at both organizations started to overlap in a way that really made me feel I was on the right path.
My majors are Psychology, French, and Spanish, with a minor in Neuroscience. Though my academic background doesn’t directly relate to my internship experiences, I can confidently say that my internship experiences have profoundly influenced my approach to academics and the courses I’ve taken. I’ve learned that having an internship outside of my field of study is more of an advantage than I thought it would be; at a time when I’m still deciding how post-graduate plans are going to unfold, a multiplicity of perspectives and experiences is important.
My somewhat “informal” yet enriching internships at the Bus Project and CAUSA also helped me get where I currently am. My current internship at CASA of Oregon (Community and Shelter Assistance Corporation) is one that integrates everything from my bilingual skills, interest in community development and organizing, to advocacy for underrepresented minorities. I found this internship through CollegeCentral.com/up. Because this internship program (through the California Coalition for Rural Housing) was in its first year of partnering with Oregon agencies and therefore doing as many job postings possible, collegecentral.com was a perfect way for them to target university students. I successfully went through the lengthy application and interview process, and am so glad that I went for it. I highly recommend checking collegecentral.com on a regular basis, because many organizations (especially non-local ones, like mine) don’t know of other ways to present opportunities to college students, and you should take advantage of these opportunities!
My last two cents is to look for internships beyond your academic interests. Though an internship that directly complements your major is ideal, an internship that is not related to your major is no less enriching and skill-building. Remember that you’re at an advantage if your criteria for internship searching expand to areas you’re not familiar with – after all, one of the objectives of an internship is for you to learn about the field along the way.