This summer I had the privilege of serving as an intern for Make-A-Wish America. Although I did not work directly with wishes (since I was working at the national office), it was still an amazing opportunity to make some real contributions to the mission of the organization — to “grant the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions to enrich the human experience with hope, strength and joy.”
Surprisingly, I was able to use my undergraduate education in security and intelligence throughout my internship. You’re probably really confused right about now. Most people are. You’re probably thinking: “What are you doing interning at Make-A-Wish with your educational background? I don’t see the connection. How did you manage to use your education?” I’ll put the pieces together for you friends. I worked a lot with international wishes. Every morning, I came into the office, got my coffee, and pulled up various news sources to monitor what was occurring around the world that may affect international travel or our wish families abroad – so basically, I gave my supervisor situation reports every day. I was able to develop content to help our wish families be safe and knowledgeable while traveling internationally. I also got to work closely with the Rio 2016 Olympics Wishes, creating a detailed situation report on the internal state of Rio and Brazil (including crime, financial crisis, political unrest, and health concerns), the security preparedness for the Olympics, and terrorist developments (threats and arrests) related to the event. Now, I definitely was not expecting to use my education so much during this internship (well, I didn’t expect to at all), but I am glad that it worked out and I was able to make some pretty meaningful contributions to the organization.
In addition to working with international wishes, I was also able to independently develop content for volunteer managers so that they can more easily provide opportunities for youth under the age of 18 to get involved with the organization. You’re probably asking now, “How did you end up there anyway?” Well, I decided to throw my plan for my future away. That’s right, I started from scratch. I decided I didn’t want the life I thought I wanted before. Once that door closed, SO MANY MORE opened. The Peace Corps. Non-Profits. The possibilities seemed endless, which I will admit was TERRIFYING to me. I always had a plan. I always had some idea of where my life was going. I could see it 10, 20, 30 years out. I knew what my life would look like. That fall though, all certainty went out the window.
Other than being able to grow under the wings of this amazing, respectable non-profit organization, I also had the privilege to work alongside passionate, driven people who are dedicated to bringing a little more light into the world. Not only the staff, but my fellow interns made this experience and this summer the best I have had so far. They are friends I hope to keep for a long time. We were a group of people who came from many different backgrounds and experiences in life, in various places in our lives, and who are all very individual in our characteristics; but we became that group of friends that you always hope find. We were there for each other for laughs and tears, in love and heartbreak, for fun and work, to give an encouraging word and the hard truth. I am grateful to have shared this experience with such an amazing group of people who I deeply respect and who I believe will do great things in their lives. I can’t wait to see where our paths lead.