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Virginia Rendler

What I did This Summer

by Virginia Rendler | Nov 06, 2018

In elementary school, we were always asked to write a personal essay about what we did over the summer. I think it was a way to test our narrative skills, as well as a way to shame kids who just sat at home and read and avoided any group activities (me). I never had anything good to write about. My family would maybe go visit my grandparents, or take a road trip, but it was hard to spread that out over one handwritten page (equivalent to two paragraphs but seemed endlessly long).

            This summer, though, I actually did something that I never thought I would be able to. And if those people reading this (hello) will humor me, I would like to write more than one blog about it. This summer I did an internship in Boston with the Shepherd Higher Education Consortium on Poverty at an organization called Career Collaborative. Career Collaborative aims to find employment for adults living below the poverty line in the greater Boston area through classes, practice interviews, and one on one relationships with employment counselors.

            If people were interested, I would love to write about the process of getting the internship, what daily life was like in Boston, what I did at the organization, any of that. But for this I just want to talk a bit more generally about what a summer internship means.

            I always felt like I needed to get an internship. It sounds academic, everyone says it’s great career experience, all of the stuff you always hear. And undoubtedly all of that is true, and undoubtedly this was the best summer I’ve ever had. I learned things about my career, myself, made friends, and grew as a person. All of the reasons I thought I needed an internship turned out not to be true though.

            I needed the experience this summer to prove I could be on my own, that I could live in a new city with strangers and work 9-5 every day, five days a week. It will look great on a resume, yes, but it wasn’t just a resume builder. I made personal connections with the people that I worked with, I learned about organizing and community building. I was able to witness the isolation and fear that comes along with poverty and immigration. The most valuable part of the summer was not the academics nor was it the professional experience, but rather it was learning that I could do it. That sounds cheesy and I don’t mean to make it sound easy, because it was not always easy, but I had the support of my family, both my parents and my family at Manchester. And now I certainly have something to say when writing about what I did this summer.