Fall is upon us as September wraps up and we usher in the wind, the autumnal leaves, boots and socks, and seasonal beverages, but I’m already wondering about what I want to do this summer. The summer internship search is often daunting, perplexing, and extensive as one grapples with what exactly they want to do and where to do it. Plus, nobody wants to be the stereotypical, nameless intern who gets coffee and copies documents for the staff for an entire summer. Thankfully, I have only ever had positive internship experiences. This past summer, I was a Tisch Summer Fellow at LIFT DC, a national anti-poverty nonprofit organization that works directly with community members to help the build the necessary personal, social, and financial foundations to combat poverty.
Despite the 115-degree heat indexes that we had nearly every day in D.C. and the fact that it took me two weeks to perfect the bus system, I found it extremely enriching to be able to live in a new city for 10 weeks and conduct meaningful work. I often still think of the community members I got to work with multiple times a week, filing for public benefits, working on immigration statuses, trying to secure healthcare, or thinking about opportunities for obtaining a GED or pursuing higher education. Aside from the awesome organization I was at, I was also happy to be a part of the Tisch Summer Fellows program, which gives you a stipend for your internship and places you in a network with other Tufts students also doing fellowships in the same city. We had weekly events where we would all meet up and be reminded of the various ways in which Tufts students are seeking to enact change in our world through the diversity of our fellowship placements.
The program also gave us alumni mentors who were invaluable assets to thinking critically about my academic career and my impending professional career. It was nice to sit down at a coffee bar and have someone listen to me talk about my “mid-college crisis” and tell me that they went through a similar time, or talk to a former foreign services officer about Brexit and the future of the EU. Being able to spend an entire summer in DC also allowed me to get acquainted with the alumni network—I even met an alum who is also from Savannah and went to the same high school as me (it’s a rare occurrence at Tufts)! The countless opportunities to chat with alums that were eager and enthused to welcome us to DC displayed the genuine bond and connection felt among Tufts students beyond their time at Tufts. As we continue to evolve from who we are now, even diverging from our interests overtime or coming closer to realizing just exactly what it is that gets us energized, there’s a whole network of us to delve into.
As I packed up my three suitcases (my mom told me not to bring so much), went to all of the Smithsonians for one last time (they’re all freeeeeeee!), and ate famous cuisine (Christina Tosi’s Momofuku and Milkbar), I felt that I had grown. I had grown because of the connections I had made with my members and their children; I had grown because I managed to live in a new place and adapt quickly. And lastly, I had grown because I was able to contextualize my experiences and time at Tufts so far…there are a lot of ‘bos out there! Now I’m here in my junior year, and the summer internship search begins again.
Feature Image used under Creative Commons license from Flickr user Sebastian Bassi. Original photo can be found here.