This summer I got to intern with Compassion International as a Software Developer. The Software Engineering (SE) program at ERAU taught me a wide range of skills, so I didn’t really know where to start looking for internships. I applied anywhere and everywhere from large aviation companies to small tech startups. Along the way I realized that the things I had learned went far beyond just academics. While the SE program has provided me with the necessary skills to be prepared for industry, I have learned professional and interpersonal skills through communicating with professors and being an RA. I started to seek positions that would compliment that. I wanted to find something that combined the experience I have had academically with something community driven and people focused. That’s when I found Compassion International.
Compassion is a Christian global non-profit ranked in the top 15 U.S. charities. Their goal is to sustainably release children from poverty. The organization is currently working in 25 nations (Bangladesh, Colombia, Kenya etc.) with over 2 million children in the sponsorship program at 7500 centers. Compassion also partners globally with 11 countries (England, Australia, Italy, etc.) to provide sponsorship and funding. Sponsors can communicate via letters directly to their sponsor child and the funds they provide go straight to the church and Compassion Center that the child is a part of. Compassion Centers are in poverty-stricken communities and run by local church leaders where a child is fed, clothed, and educated. The goal is to support children in the program from a young age through college/trade school to help break the cycle of physical and emotional poverty.
The role of the USA office in Colorado Springs where I was an intern, is to support the sponsors, children, and centers. This support includes everything from finance management and marketing, to IT infrastructure and data processing including development of education curriculum for each country and a technology system to allow safe communication between countries. I worked as a Developer on an IT team to build an internal application for the global programs and travel department. The team I was a part of does pair programming and Test-Driven Development, so I spent a good portion of the summer building automated user interface testing and working together with other interns. The classes that I had taken in Software Quality Assurance and Analysis and Design of Software Systems were so helpful during the project. It was exciting to know that while I was growing my skills professionally, the application I helped to build has tangible and real effects beyond my personal role at the organization.
The internship at Compassion was well rounded and amounted to more than just a job. Part of the program is a field visit so I spent a week visiting the Compassion Guatemala National Office and visiting the children there. The purpose of this trip was to provide us with context and into the work that is done in the field and how it relates to the daily office work in the states. In the US Office, I was poured into each week professionally and personally. I learned how work really is more than a title and a set of tasks. An effective workplace is one that cares as much about the person’s individual growth as they do about the progress they make. I was placed with a host family to live with as well as with a mentor in the organization to meet with weekly and seek professional and personal guidance. Each week we had “Impact Sessions” with the executives such as the current and former CEOs of the organization, the Vice President of Marketing and Engagement (formerly responsible for stuffed crust pizza at Pizza Hut), Vice President of Human Resources (instrumental in the formation of Blockbuster Video, Einstein Bros., and Boston Market). These sessions each week were to expose us to different life lessons and career paths and to learn from their incredible experiences. The program was also designed for the interns to become a close community. Every second outside of the office was spent exploring nearby cities and climbing Colorado mountains until we felt like a family.
I could not have imagined a better place to be an intern. ERAU provided me with both the personal and technical skills in order to succeed this summer.