(Main image courtesy of [email protected] and Unsplash.)

During the school year, I attend Bowie State University, where I study Mass Communications and Broadcast Journalism. During Spring Semester 2022, I took an internship seminar course, and the professor would send emails to the class letting us know about internship opportunities.

In May, she sent the IYF Intern Program opportunity my way. The fact that the organization seemed eager to lead young people to success is what caught my eye, and that IYF’s principles also aligned with my beliefs and priorities. I reviewed the requirements, felt confident, and I decided to apply. As part of my internship position with the Global Communications Team, I decided to interview my fellow interns to learn more about their experience at IYF. How did they learn about the internship, why did they decide to apply, and how has the experience been?

It’s my pleasure to introduce you to them and share some of their responses.

Emma Schwartz is a student at Towson University, majoring in Mass Communications. She’s working as an intern with IYF’s Digital Development department where, along with teammates Eric Couper and Rhonda Greenway, she creates digital content. “Rhonda, Eric, and I have been working on a Digital Development Principles video series,” she explains. "Being able to see the videos come together and having a plan really excites me.” The fact that the IYF Internship is paid appealed to me, too. 

As Emma notes, there are factors that can keep young people from applying for internships. “A big thing for me is payment,” she says. “There are unpaid internships out there. A lot. But many young people are unable to accept them.” Many students, she explains, already have loan payments and have to pay for apartments, food, and other necessities. “We need the money,” she says. Another discouragement young people face when applying for internships is that requirements are asked for that most students don’t have. “I’ve seen internships that ask for years of experience in a field," Emma explains. "It’s discouraging when you want to apply, but you know you don’t have the required skills needed for it.”

Personally, I have decided not to apply for some internships because the internship had too many unrealistic requirements. At first, you think you have an opportunity that fits, then two years of experience or a bachelor’s degree are required when you’re only a sophomore in college. For an internship to actually be an internship, organizations and companies should accept young people where they are. That’s how you learn, right? For Emma, me, and a lot of other young people, internships are about learning and perfecting the skills you have for your future career path.

Amanuel Berhe, also known as “AB,” attends Towson University where he studies Finance. He’s interning with the AMU/FAIT team here at IYF. Amanuel discovered the IYF Internship opportunity through the Handshake app that his university offers its students to locate jobs, careers, and internships. Although I found this opportunity through a course, Handshake is an app that I have also used. It’s popular in universities all over the world, and I know many people who have had success in obtaining a job, career, or internship using the app.

AB saw the application and was intrigued, but that wasn’t the only reason he decided to apply—the fact that the position was remote also really caught his eye. “I think that's the future, in terms of work,’ he explains. “Because technology has been expanding over the years, people can literally just get out of bed and hop online.” This was especially important during the pandemic, and starting off remote instead of in the office can be a good way for young people to build confidence, too.

According to AB, internships are important opportunities for young people because they provide a chance to see how your career plan can develop. “In terms of my field,” he says, “I wanted to get a feel for what kind of things I’m going to be doing in the future. That’s something I really didn't understand at school. I was really trying to gain that experience.” I agree with AB. When you land an internship or job in your field, you’re hit with lots of new information and insights. Amanuel says he’s gaining firsthand experience with financial models, learning how to interpret data, and gaining a better understanding of youth development. When the internship started, he shares, “I didn’t really know anything about auditing, but then it was like...yeah, this is pretty interesting.” In addition, he says, “I didn’t really understand how much this work can impact those kids who may not have necessary resources or opportunities."

Collins Oswago interns with the Youth Opportunity Team here at IYF. Collins was born and raised in Kenya where he attended undergrad in gender development studies. He moved to the U.S. to pursue a master’s degree in international studies at Morgan State University.

He discovered the IYF Intern Program opportunity on LinkedIn. “One of my friends mentioned it to me,” he says. “When I read about the internship, everything that IYF was looking for aligned with my career program.” From my own experience, LinkedIn is a great way to connect with fellow colleagues and find future job opportunities. It’s like Facebook, but for careers, and I recommend it for anyone, especially college and graduate students who are on the search for opportunities in their field of study.

Collins believes that young people may stray away from applying for internships because most application processes require a lot of information or include too many unnecessarily complicated steps. “It can be really difficult to apply,” he says. “Sometimes you need to create an account or add a lot of information before you can even apply.” I know what Collins means—I’ve had experiences where I’ve been asked for sensitive information such as my home address and even my Social Security number. That’s a little too much information to give before even seeing all of what the opportunity has to offer. It doesn’t feel safe. When organizations and companies don’t make it as easy as possible, they could be missing out on young applicants that would add real value. On the other hand, Collins shares, “The IYF Intern Program application takes you like 5-10 minutes to complete.”

Coming into this internship, I had no idea what to expect. I thought I would be given tasks that I had no idea how to do. I didn't think I would have such a supporting and welcoming team, nor the time to get to know the IYF staff aside from my supervisor. I just thought I would kind of be on my own.

That wasn't the case at all. In fact, this is something I've enjoyed and appreciated throughout the IYF Intern Program experience—the time that the IYF team put into making their interns a priority.

 

Brandi Burris is an Intern on IYF's Global Communications Team.