Michelle Kaster ’14
Internship Site: International Rescue Committee - Baltimore, MD
The winter break before summer 2012, I did a lot of online research for internships. I looked at websites like internships.com or baltimorecollegetown.org. Once I found the application for this position, I went to the International Rescue Committee’s (IRC) website to find out more information. I determined this was the type of organization I wanted to work for, so I emailed the advisor and sent in my application, cover letter, resume, and references. I then followed up with my advisor during my spring break in which she invited me in for an interview. A few weeks later I got the news that she was offering me the position.
As a communications and outreach intern, I attended networking meetings with other nonprofit organizations; I participated in event planning, and created an internship reflection booklet. One of my favorite activities was creating my internship reflection booklet. The purpose of this project was to allow my advisor to have a reference to use for both current and future interns. I asked all the interns to write a reflection on their experience. I came up with this idea on my own, and I took the initiative myself to create it.
I found that the most challenging part of my experience was adapting to the work environment. Every day at the office was different and I did not know what to expect. Some days I would help to plan upcoming events, some days I would meet with refugees or attend networking meetings. With time, I found that the more often I came into work, began doing things, and talking with coworkers, the more comfortable I became with my surroundings.
There were quite a few classes that I have taken at Dickinson that prepared me for this internship, starting with my Freshman Seminar, “Coming of Age in Multiethnic America” taught by Professor Lape. This course gave me the eye-opening perspective needed to work for an international organization. We read lots of different novels in that class that related to different cultures, and some even discussed the refugee camps. I also took International Relations, taught by Professor Wolff, which definitely opened my eyes to world issues and terminology.
This internship has not only given me experience in the non-profit business sector, but also allowed me to learn about the communications and outreach position of an organization. As a communications and outreach intern, I gained experience event planning, networking, and writing articles for the local newsletter. In addition, if I ever decide to go into nonprofit management or public relations, I will have had the experience.
Tips from Michelle:
Networking is a very important part of getting an internship. I also think that starting early is very important as well as doing research online over breaks. Follow up is very important part of networking. Always write thank you cards, and make the extra effort to keep in touch.
*To find out more about how to get an internship, make an appointment with a career counselor. Just call the Career Center at 717-245-1740 or stop by Biddle House.