Hello, everyone. My name is Valeria Campos, and I am a senior majoring in international affairs and journalism. I wanted to discuss the internship search with you all, which I know is one of the most daunting tasks of your college career. I’m sure you all, being the brilliant and dedicated SPIA students you are, want to aim for the stars when securing an internship. I did, too, and I have the unanswered emails and rejection letters to prove it. I am, of course, not trying to deter you from applying to these prestigious internships. You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. Keep applying to these because you never know what will happen! However, I want to help you realize that internships are closer to you than you think.

Like I said, I applied to internship after internship, but I did start applying a bit late, so my options were limited from the get-go. I began losing hope after a while and decided to work a regular job over the summer until I remembered a meeting I had a few months back with my pre-law advisor. She had mentioned some local internship programs to me, and I remember quickly jotting them down in my notes app. My notes app is, unfortunately, pure gibberish, and it took a considerable amount of digging before I found it. I wrote down the name Athens-Oconee CASA. I googled the name and found that they were still accepting applications for their internship program, and after the interview process, I received an email saying I got the job!

They are a non-profit that works with the juvenile court and foster care system to train volunteers to represent families going through the system. For the job, I would spend the majority of time in and out of juvenile court dependency hearings or going through the database of children in foster care. Since I am also a journalism major, I would also handle a lot of their communications and social media needs. My bosses and co-workers were some of the nicest people I’ve ever met. Working at an internship in Athens was not in my plan, but I am so glad I did it. Internships like mine, with a smaller feel and reach, I have found to be more personable and directly impactful. It was exciting to see firsthand the difference I made while working there in the faces of the families and volunteers. This was one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done and gave me invaluable work experience, and it was here in Athens! I got to live in my apartment over the summer and enjoy the peaceful Athens atmosphere, and it is a summer I will cherish forever.

Don’t be afraid to look locally for these internships. Whether your internship is prestigious and glamorous or local and hands-on, the value of having that work experience will remain the same. If it is a job or field you love and are passionate about, it will be fruitful for your future, both professionally and personally.