This week we're featuring new content from our very own Digital Marketing Intern, Bea Garcia! Bea is currently pursuing a M.A. in International Security at Georgetown University. She's been a crucial member of our team, working closely to boost our social media content and digital strategy. Now that summer is kicking into high gear, Bea's shared her past internship experiences in our very own #CFDiary.
Dear CF Readers,
The student hustle for internships is one many of us are a little too familiar with. When I began my undergraduate career my priority was gaining experience to prepare for post-college life and work. Fortunately, it did, and I was able to graduate early, which was something I never expected would occur. I felt that I had accomplished more than I thought I could: I studied abroad, completed my general education requirements quickly, and fulfilled all my Bachelor of Arts requirements faster than expected. I felt ready to start a new chapter with my professional life and start internship hunting. It is important to note that DC is experiencing an increase in advocacy groups rallying for paid internships or at least compensation for student’s commute. The downside is, even though students and professionals alike are striving for a better future for the next generation, the majority of these summer/semester internships are still unpaid and don’t give any travel compensation. For many, instead of focusing on the future and opportunities we wish to achieve, we’re stuck looking for what can help us financially and it might not even relate to their field of study. And those that do pay, it’s not enough to cover monthly living expenses.
My college career path began when I was in middle school. I became interested in everything diplomacy, politics and international relations. So, during my senior year of high school, I knew what I wanted to focus on and that going to college in DC was the endgame. I majored in International Relations (IR), but wanted to have a more specific concentration within the IR field of study. After graduating from college, I decided to take 2017 to grow professionally and put into practice the skills I gained throughout my undergraduate career. During this time, I realized that I wanted to continue my studies. The moment I realized going to Graduate School was the right choice for me was when I worked as a paralegal. I would always say that at the end of it all I see myself dealing with Arms Control/Non-Proliferations of WMDs and Counterterrorism.
Monday through Friday I worked as a paralegal/legal assistant and my office hours varied weekly depending on my workload. My job allowed me to be financially independent from my mother (even though she loved to help if I needed it and still does). The financial independence felt terrific! I paid my rent on time and was still able to treat myself to a few things (the way anyone should). However, I knew I had to save up as much as I could because once graduate school started, it would be a stricter financial lifestyle.
Today, I’m in my second to last semester of grad school completing a Master of Arts (MA) in International Security. As a 24-year old graduate student, I’m always on the search for summer and semester internships to continue gaining experience. So, during my internship search, unpaid internship positions weighed heavily on my mind. I’m so close to completing my graduate school studies, and looking to regain my financial independence again so an unpaid internship doesn’t help my current OR future financial state! I’ve reached a crossroads of not knowing if to take an unpaid position without commute compensation in my concentration or find a full-time/part-time, paid entry-level positions where I’ll gain experience, but not specific to what I see myself doing long-term.
This student hustle is one that will continue until graduation. It's unfortunate how many students find themselves in these circumstances of unpaid career opportunities. I believe that no student should have to face such circumstances - no matter what degree they’re completing. For anyone feeling this way, you’re not alone! Don't ever feel ashamed of applying to jobs that’ll help you financially. One thing learnt throughout my experience is that by working in various positions and internships, I now know the work environment I want to be around, the ones I don’t, and can put on my resume the invaluable skills I’ve gained from each position. For me, I applied to positions that gave me the opportunity to continue working on personal development. I believe it’s important to be in an environment that gives you the room to grow, academically and professionally. I believe that in life we should be open to various opportunities, and who knows, it can lead to an even better and brighter future.