You know those girls who come back to school in the fall raving about their amazing summer experiences? The ones who spent their summers traveling the world or doing internships you never actually thought were achievable, while you spent the entire break sprawled out by the pool, working on your tan with cocktail in hand?
Three of these girls whom you should be totally jealous of are Michelle, Ashli, and Amelia. They spent their summers helping children in third-world countries, surrounded by the glitz and glamour of NYC, and mingling with major politicians in Washington, D.C.
While you may have a great tan, these girls truly had the best summer ever, and with just a little advice, you can too!
The Humanitarian- Michelle Corkrum
Michelle Corkrum, a 19-year-old neuroscience major at Wellesley College, realized her passion for helping young children in war-torn countries when she was only a junior in high school. With accomplishments under her belt such as founding her own non-profit organization, For the Children, which aids women and children in Liberia, and facilitating projects such as donation drives for clothes and books to send to children in a medical center near Baghdad, Iraq, it was no wonder that when summer rolled around, Michelle was ready to participate in a humanitarian trip overseas.
With the help of For the Children and her mom, Michelle found an opportunity with the Caring for Tomorrow’s Generation orphanage in Buchanan, Liberia. While there, she worked with children ranging from infants to 15-year-olds, all of whom had either become orphaned, abandoned or destitute because of the consequences of the Liberian civil war.
“I love working with children and providing them with a sense of hope and comfort,” said Michelle. “All the children I worked with were strong and beautiful individuals that had gone through so much, and despite everything they came out survivors.”
During her stay, Michelle facilitated the 6th grade math and science classes, leading the lectures and helping plan the academic review sessions each week.
“Overall, the best reward I received was walking away each day knowing that each child looked forward to seeing me the next day, just as much as I desired to see them the next day,” said Michelle. “Because of the constant love the children receive everyday they believe that their future will be better than their past.”
Tips for finding humanitarian work overseas:
Team up with an organization:
There are a wide variety of non-profit organizations that coordinate philanthropic efforts and will be able to take care of a lot of the specific details for you. Search for ones by utilizing your school resources and local community or search the web for organizations that share your interests. Check out websites such as idealist.org, unv.org, or habitat.org/gv for starters.
Let your family and friends know what type of volunteer work you’re interested in and why. Often times, you will be responsible for paying the travel costs to get to wherever the opportunity is, which can be oceans away. Having both the financial and emotional support of loved ones will be highly beneficial.
You must be willing to be open-minded and accept certain challenges, especially in third-world countries. You might witness certain things that are hard to swallow, such as children suffering and a general lack of resources, so be sure you understand the history and the culture of the country beforehand. Also, be mentally ready to potentially rough it without internet access or a straightening iron, as many places who need volunteers the most might not be able to sustain these luxuries.
The Fashionista- Ashli Pollard
For anyone with a penchant for designer fashion and a closet full of ridiculously stylish clothes like Ashli Pollard, a 22-year-old Fashion Merchandising major at Missouri State University, a summer internship in New York City is the epitome of a dream internship.
After working on photo shoots for numerous magazines and serving as designer coordinator for several fashion shows around her hometown, Ashli was ready to take the plunge and start searching for a summer internship in NYC.
Her big break came from an ad posted on Craigslist, of all places. “Gotta love the new age!” joked Ashli. As soon as she sealed the deal for an internship with Ideal Fastener, the second largest zipper manufacturer in the world which provides zippers to virtually every major apparel brand in the USA and Europe (including all of the major designers in NYC), Ashli packed her things and headed to the Big Apple.
Once there, Ashli quickly learned she wouldn’t just be making copies and running errands. She spent her time working with global account managers and creating presentations for sales meetings with well-known companies such as Betsey Johnson, DKNY, Gap, and Tommy Hilfiger, all the while networking with top executives.
“I got to put in my opinion and sometimes they took my advice, which was exciting,” said Ashli.
The highlight of her summer internship in NYC was meeting the VP of Merchandising for Oscar de la Renta, who opened the door for Ashli to possibly work with the company’s PR department on this year’s Spring Fashion Week.
“Your attitude is just as important as the work you do,” said Ashli about interning. “I made a million mistakes, I messed up every day. But I smiled, I was gracious and thankful, I apologized and now look! They offered me a full-time job upon graduating!”
Tips for landing a fashion internship:
Use your connections:
If you’re involved with the fashion department at your school or have had other jobs or experience in fashion, ask some of the people you’ve met if they know of available positions or have contacts that you can utilize.
Network! Network! Network!:
Tell as many people you can about your fashion ambitions and doors you never knew existed may open. Don’t be afraid to casually tell people you meet about your goals for the future and what you specifically love about fashion.
Aim high, shoot low:
It’s okay to be ambitious and apply for internships with distinguished companies such as Vogue or Chanel, but also apply for internships at smaller companies which, in the end, are less competitive and might end up giving you more hands-on experience.
The Aspiring Politico- Amelia McDermott
Internships in Washington, D.C. are competitive, educational, and essentially a “must” for anyone seeking to get a firsthand look at our country’s political system like Amelia McDermott, a 20-year-old International Relations major at Wellesley College.
Having heard about the summer internships on the Hill from other students at her school, Amelia applied for internships with all of the U.S. Senators and Congressmen from her area, and was lucky enough to have been accepted to all of them.
She ended up choosing to spend the summer interning for Senator Olympia Snowe of Maine, answering the phones and giving tours of the Capitol to visitors from her home state.
“I loved connecting constituents to the Senator and helping make their voices known,” said Amelia. “It really gave me insight into our political system and the legislative branch in particular.”
While most people are limited to seeing political superstars such as Hillary Clinton and John McCain on the Internet or news channels, Amelia had face-time with both during her internship, along with other staples in the political world.
“I personally worship the ground that Hillary Clinton walks on, so when she was on Capitol Hill for a hearing, a few other girls from school and I held up a “Wellesley” sign and she came over and gave us a hug,” said Amelia (Wellesley is Clinton’s alma mater).
“I was at a reception for the Pat Tillman Foundation where John McCain was the guest speaker, and later on I saw him by himself looking at a painting on the wall,” said Amelia. “I jokingly told him that I liked Sarah Palin’s shoes. He laughed so hard and whenever I saw him in the hallway in the office building after that, he would chuckle and wave at me.”
Tips for landing a legislative internship:
Make sure you have an impressive resume and cover letter. You definitely want to stand out from the crowd of mostly impressive applications legislative offices receive. Be sure to stress your awesome communication skills, time management skills, and ability to learn quickly and be flexible, as these are qualities that will definitely come in handy.
Due to the large amount of applications most legislative offices receive, follow-up a week after you submit your materials, just to make sure they actually received them.
Don’t be afraid to do grunt-work:
In the beginning, expect to do mostly menial tasks such as filing, but if you show the staff how capable you are, they might give you more responsibility like sending you to take notes at hearings.