Making Internships Work
Ever wondered where other students find those cool internships? Or what kind of responsibility you can expect to be given as an intern? Or how internship experiences might lead to a possible future career? Each of the following stories relates a real-life experience of a current or recent liberal arts major. At the end of each interview you'll find suggestions for actions to take, plus resources that might be helpful in your own internship search.
If you have an interesting internship story to tell, please contact Robert Vega to arrange an interview.
Giordani, Schurig, Beckett & Tackett, LLP
Various political internships in Washington, DC and Austin, TX
South by Southwest (SXSW)
German Parliament: Rep. Dagmar Freitag
Texas Monthly Magazine
Counselor, Camp Longhorn
Northwestern Mutual Financial Network
Representative Dagmar Freitag is a member of the Social Democratic Party (SPD, Sozial-demokratische Partei Deutschlands) in the German Parliament. (Sept 2008)
How did you find out about this internship and what was your interest in it?
I heard about it as a freshman. There’s a social for the German Club where people come and talk about different things they’ve done. One of the speakers said that the German department has this internship with the German Parliament set up and was talking about how great it was. I was like, this is right up my alley. I had recently gotten interested in German politics and in international affairs so I decided to keep that option on the back-burner until I had a little more experience. Last year, as I began thinking about internships for the following summer I got an email from one of my study abroad professors reminding me of the opportunity. I decided it wouldn’t hurt to apply, so I did and ended up getting it.
What was working for a German representative like?
The first time I met the representative she asked me what I was interested in and I told her it was foreign affairs. She really wanted to find work that matched my interests. I worked on a research project about government involvement in Afghanistan because they were going to have a big exhibition back in her electoral district. They also arranged for me to attend committee meetings and watch a debate in the actual chamber because they really wanted me to get involved and see how everything worked. Everyone made great efforts to allow me to attend events they thought would be interesting to me.
Tell us about the internship application process.
The difficult part was that it was all in German, which meant I had to work on my German proficiency which had fallen out of practice. I had to create a German resume which is completely different from what we typically do in the U.S. I was in a Business German class at the time. I found some resume samples online and I worked with my Business German professor to build my resume. He proofread it and made some suggestions for improvements. There were a lot of resources that helped me with this part of the process.
What was it like working with a foreign language?
I’d already taken four semesters worth of German on top of the four years I had of the language in high school. I also did a study abroad program in Berlin two summers ago where they use a different dialect in Berlin that I had to get used to. Luckily I’d arrived a few days before the internship was due to begin and was able to get involved with the locals so I could kick my brain into gear, because the first few days are always challenging. For the first two or three days in the office they spoke much slower and used simpler language, which also helped. To prepare myself I had met with Professor Kit Belgum each week during the semester prior. One of the most helpful things was that we’d discuss articles that used German political terminology, so that I could build up that type of vocabulary.
What do you consider to be the benefits of an internship abroad experience, compared to a study abroad program?
There’s no reason why you can’t do both simultaneously, which makes for a really broad and valuable experience. During a study abroad program you’ll make new friends, experience the general culture of that country, and be given course credit. But when you intern, you’re going to see another aspect of life—the working culture. So if you can combine those two, basically you’re getting the most integrated view of a society and the world of work, which I would definitely recommend to anyone.
ANDREW'S ADVICE IN ACTION:
- Register with LACS: Set up your BTT Gateway account to access our full range of career resources and services.
- Student Clubs: Join a student club to network with students who share your interests. Search for organizations, including the German Club, online through the UT SALD site.
- UT Departments: Consult faculty and staff in your department for international contacts, program preparation (i.e., international CV) and foreign language enhancement.
- International Internship Postings: Check out our International Opportunities page for everything you need to know about international programs, including how to prepare, who to contact and how to highlight your international skills when you return to the U.S.
- Write your CV: Visit the LACS Library (FAC 18) to use our CV writing resources, including "The Global Resume & CV Guide," "Best Resumes and CVs for International Jobs" and Vault (our online library accessible via your BTT Gateway account).
- Language & Culture Preparation: Read and listen to media from the country you're interested in to prepare your ear for the language and to learn about the country's culture, politics and trends. German media examples include Die Zeit and Deutsche Welle.
- Research the Organization: Research the organization at which you want to intern to help you choose the right site and to help increase your knowledge of the industry, sector or organization before you contact the site. If the German Parliament is your goal, read all about the Bundestag online. For other research help, check out our Resources & Research page, job and internship postings and library resources.
Sounds like an interesting internship….how did you find out about it?
I was referred by a friend who had interned for them the semester before. Having that foot in the door was a definite help. Plus, my resume matched the profile of students that the firm likes to hire. I noticed during the interview process that the firm specifically looks for Liberal Arts students. Having had a little experience with them, I completely understand why that is. A Liberal Arts education gives me the analytical abilities and reasoning skills necessary to perform such detail oriented and comprehensive work.
I’m assuming you plan to go into law after graduating?
Yes. I’ll be graduating May 2008 and will stay with the firm as a full-time intern while I take a year off between completing my undergraduate education and going to law school.
I know nothing about asset protection and estate planning…essentially, what does that law firm do, and is that the kind of law you think you might want to practice eventually?
My current firm deals with asset protection which attempts to protect personal and family wealth from unfair taxation and frivolous law suits. It also manages their estates to coordinate heirs and wills as well as charities and foundations. I am not sure about the kind of law that I would like to practice but have certainly become more aware of the legal profession and the different types of law that exist. I came into the internship looking into a dark room. Now the room is a hallway with clearly labeled doors, I simply need to enter some and try them out.
How would you describe a typical day as an intern at that firm?
It’s mostly filled with a lot of managerial and office work. That’s just to be expected since it’s very difficult to take on more responsibilities in a law firm without having the qualifications or certifications. Typically I’m involved with a lot of advanced word processing and editing such as exacting revisions in wills and trust contracts as well as client correspondence. I am also involved with client portfolio management, which deals with creating client matter notebooks and helping to organize the billing and correspondence with clients. I’ve been able to sit in on client meetings between one of the partners and two of her clients, and was able to help with Spanish-to-English translations. I’ve also had the opportunity of sitting in on lectures about the services that the attorneys provide. All of this experience has been very helpful in terms of discovering whether law is really for me, and in knowing the type of law I will eventually want to practice. I would definitely suggest any pre-law student to have tangible law-firm experience. No matter how much we might like to convince ourselves otherwise, law is not for everyone. Law school is typically a many thousands of dollar investment and it only makes sense to make sure you really fit with the law before going into law school. If you try a legal internship and like it, it only reinforces the commitment to go to law school and opens doors and contacts along the way. If you realize that the law is not for you, that will ultimately save you thousands of poorly spent dollars and years of professional frustration. Either way, it always helps to intern in the professional field we are pursuing.
What other advice would you give to students who are similarly looking to intern at law firms?
You need to be very proactive, particularly around networking. The best way to get your foot in the door with these kinds of opportunities is to use your existing contacts, as I did. That means talking to your friends, colleagues, or anyone else you might be introduced to, letting them know about your career plans and asking if they’d be willing to refer you to any of their contacts in the law. Then you need to follow up on these referrals. There are a lot of people out there, all competing for the best internships. Yes, it’s doable…but it takes effort.
How did you get the chance to intern at the Smithsonian Institute and why did you choose to work there?
I was restless and tired of working every summer in Austin, so I decided to find an internship that would help me determine a career path. I'd been mulling over the idea of becoming an archivist so I thought I'd try to find a program that would allow me to learn the tricks of the trade in order to see if I wanted to do this kind of work for the rest of my life. I found the Smithsonian internship on the Institute's website. There were several internships posted, only a few of which were designated for undergraduates, and I applied to two of them. I heard back from the Smithsonian Institute Archives first and immediately accepted their offer. I later heard back from the National Museum of American History and had to decline their offer. After that, I had a short phone interview with Tammy Peters, the intern manager and overall archives director at the Smithsonian, who briefed me on the position and what it entailed.
What was your day-to-day work like?
The moment I arrived in Washington, DC I was put to work, doing a lot of varied tasks in my role as a records management intern. These included:
- Housing and re-housing multiple collections in the Institution's archives before sending them to a new storage facility in Pennsylvania.
- Assessing the quality of collections and determining the necessary improvements. That included things like replacing acidic folders with non-acidic ones, removing objects such as paperclips and rubber bands, and placing photographs or other loose materials into plastic Mylar[an insulating material used as protective casing.
- Re-organizing collection accession lists for the Smithsonian Institute database. An accession list is an organizational tool which is used as a table of contents for the collection to make finding pieces within the collection easier
- Creating accession lists for new collections.
What part of the internship did you enjoy the most?
The most exciting part of my internship was exploring documents and collections that I might be one of the few people to ever touch or see. Some collections remain unused for decades, if not forever. It was also exciting to look at information that was once considered classified. Many collections I worked on weren't released to the public until recently and have been stored but are not publicly available. It was also thrilling to discover so much about the SI; I learned more about the Institute from sifting through their records than I would have ever known otherwise.
Some of the most thrilling experiences I had was when my supervisor, showed us various archives treasures, including: a letter from Thomas Edison (his handwriting is extremely intricate and fascinating); a letter from the Wright Brothers at Kitty Hawk, NC; and some recently discovered negatives from the Scopes Trial (the landmark 1926 American court case which made evolution a viable theory to teach in public schools) that have never been developed.
How do you think this internship contributed to your college experience?
This was an incredible addition to my experience of life as a whole, not just college. It was more than educational and is something that I would never trade. Interning at the Smithsonian Institute gave me much more than an understanding of what an archivist does, because it was such an amazing personal experience. I haven't had any other internships or jobs quite like that one, even though I've worked with archives in my research before and I love museums and exhibitions that contain original artifacts. But this internship was completely out of the ordinary for me.
I would definitely recommend this internship. It is a fantastic experience in general. If someone is mulling over the idea of becoming an archivist or research librarian, this is a very hands-on opportunity.
You recently accepted a full-time position as Sales Resource Specialist at Texas Monthly, but before that you interned there for two semesters. Tell us about that experience.
I started working at Texas Monthly as an intern for the Human Resources (HR) Manager in the fall of 2007. Up to that point I didn’t really know what I wanted to do, only that it was important for me to be at a company that I really liked. I found the culture here to be just what I was looking for. For example, as an intern you get to set your own schedule, which gives you a sense of ownership over your time. So, working 15 hours a week meant I could go in all day twice a week, or for three hours five days a week. That kind of flexibility is really invaluable when you’re a student.
Interns can work here for two consecutive semesters, although they recommend that you switch departments for the second one. In HR, I got to interact with all the different departments, which gave me a lot of insight into how this business operates. After that I worked in custom publishing for a month before accepting a part-time, paid position in the publisher’s office. By that time I knew that I would take any position that was open at Texas Monthly just so I could work here, because they’re so great at developing young employees.
My internship experiences definitely helped me walk into my current job directly after graduating. Not only did I already have a foot in the door, but I’d taken notice of what they strongly suggest you do here, which is to ask questions and get involved in what’s going on -- even outside of your own department -- by seeing who needs your help and sitting in on meetings. Now I’m the executive assistant to two VPs in charge of advertising for the magazine, including custom publishing where I’d worked briefly.
Part of your responsibility in HR was to help manage the administrative aspects of the internship program. As an intern yourself, what did you take away from that experience?
Looking at all the résumés that prospective interns sent in really opened my eyes to what a good résumé should look like. I got to conduct some phone interviews with interns we were thinking of hiring, which gave me the chance to practice some of the interviewing skills I’d learned in my classes. Aside from a chance to apply my skills to real life tasks like these, I also benefited from hearing why students wanted to work at the magazine. Being asked what I liked most about working here certainly made me stop and think of all the reasons why I enjoy being at Texas Monthly.
What advice would you give to students who are perhaps interested in establishing writing careers, after starting out as interns?
Just be aware that, even if you get accepted into the editorial department here, your role will be to support the writers not to do any writing yourself. For example, Texas Monthly employs its own team of writers and the editorial interns are there to help with things like researching, fact-checking, and transcribing interviews, which are all good practice for becoming a writer or editor at a later stage. Unfortunately, some students have unrealistic expectations of what they’re going to be asked to do here, often imagining it’s something more grandiose.
There are some opportunities in the custom publishing department where interns can help brainstorm story ideas, and even write or edit some small pieces of copy. But that’s generally the exception rather than the rule. Remember, if you want to make your mark in this business, there’s no better way to learn than from the ground up.
Having started on the “ground floor” yourself, where do you see your career in, say, in five years’ time?
I don’t like to set plans for my life, but when you take an entry-level position I think it’s both smart and respectful to your employer to stay for at least a year or two. During my time at Texas Monthly I expect to find out where I want to go next, either within the magazine or somewhere else. That’s the great thing about being here every day now, instead of just as a part-time intern. I get even more opportunities to discover my strengths and what I really enjoy doing.
Texas Monthly Notes
- Texas Monthly offers around 30 internships each long semester, including eight in the editorial department.
- Almost a quarter of the staff currently working at Texas Monthly started out as interns (including the VP of Consumer Marketing).
What inspired you to apply for this internship?
Before this semester I hadn’t been inspired to do anything with career services, go to any of the career fairs, or do anything geared toward internships. But then I took Dr. Brooks' Economics Major in the Workplace class and realized there were so many opportunities for me and so many resources I could use. The biggest step for me, and part of that course, was getting my resume done. Once that was accomplished I felt more confident about approaching organizations. That’s when I decided to attend the liberal arts career fair. I passed my resume to ten different vendors, including Northwestern Mutual, and followed that up with emails thanking people for their time. Less then two weeks later I got a call from Northwestern inviting me to interview with them.
How did the interview go?
Really well. I was able to use what we’d learned in class about the mindsets of an economics major to answer the question, “If I got three of your friends together, what would be the three most cohesive words they’d use about you?” It felt good to have that at my fingertips, along with an understanding of my strengths and how I would be able to contribute to their business.
So you were offered a paid internship starting at the end of May 2008. What exactly will that entail?
There’s lot of flexibility in this job that will allow me to maintain a full course load and also keep my job as assistant project manager for Ranger Excavating. My primary sales will be life insurance and disability insurance. Most interns start with their family and grow their business from there, developing plans and selling products to relatives and friends who are referred to them.
What I think sets Northwestern Mutual apart from other internship programs is that they supply me with the study materials necessary to gain my license as an insurance sales representative. I can then draw up my own policies with individuals or corporate entities and build my own clientele in the Austin area. I also get a lot of entrepreneurial training, as well as the opportunity to gain future licenses that will allow me to sell mutual funds, securities, and annuities.
And once you've graduated...?
I can continue working for Northwestern if I choose. If I find I love the financial consulting field and have demonstrated proven performance then they’ll roll me into full-time employment. The advantage to them is that I’ll have been trained and will graduate with all the licenses necessary to sell a wide range of their products.
How might a student go about determining a good place to work or intern?
I think it’s important to research any organization you’re planning to work for, either as an internship or full-time paid employment. Being interested in the financial field, I tended to look at Forbes or Fortune and found so many unbelievable companies that would cater to what I’m looking for in an employer. For example, one of those resources might be Fortune’s 100 best companies to work for list, or the fastest developing companies in 2008. Not only does that provide you with interesting information about those organizations’ performance, but it can suggest whether or not the culture is something that would be a good fit for you.
Your advice to other students looking for internships?
Make sure you do the things that enable that success, because the experience will speak for itself. To get an internship I think the single most important thing is to get out there and try. Some people talk about doing it but don’t put their words into action. But if you develop an effective résumé, go to the career fair, meet and follow up with recruiters, and take advantage of the interview prep made available through Liberal Arts Career Services to ace the interview, then you can achieve anything you want.
Working for SXSW sounds cool…how did you get to intern with them?
It turned out to be due to a series of serendipitous connections, really. My debate coach in high school was best friends with someone at Porter Novelli, the global public relations firm, and suggested he use me as an intern in their Austin office. I was at Porter Novelli for five months and got to work on an account that we promoted during the South by Southwest Music Festival. So, I’d already had exposure to that world when I saw the internship opportunity posted on AccessUT.
I emailed my resume to the volunteer coordinator but didn’t hear back from them for about four months. To be honest, I’d written it off and was starting to look for other internships when I got their email saying they’d like to interview me. That took place late December 2007 and was an interesting experience in itself.
Well, I had the sense not to turn up wearing a suit as I would usually do but I still felt majorly overdressed in nice jeans and a sweater. Everyone else was wearing dirty jeans and worn-out sweatshirts. I was interviewed by the sales director who was going to be my boss, the main sales coordinator, and the media relations coordinator. One of the questions they asked was why a government major would want to work there. I explained that I was looking for career opportunities in publicity and marketing opportunities and didn’t want to get stuck in politics. Ultimately I’d like to become an event planner. That response seemed to impress them, as did the fact that we knew so many people in common through my working at Porter Novelli. That really helped break the ice. The interview was over in, like, 15 minutes.
Talk me through a typical day as an intern with SXSW.
There isn’t one. I was the Studio SX booking coordinator. That meant I had to contact at least 400 musicians, music industry leaders…everyone from Mickey Rafael, who is Willie Nelson’s harmonica player to Andrew Loog Oldham who was the manager of The Rolling Stones in the ‘60s …in order to fill three days’ worth of interview time. It took a huge amount of organization, communication skills, and tact just to fit these big names into individual 30 minute time slots so that they coordinated with all the other press times and their performance times. Every day was different…different meetings, different problems, dealing with different people from press officers, journalists, lawyers, as well as musicians and their managers. To get one interview meant going through 5-10 people and I needed to keep track of everyone I had spoken with and minimize the questions I was asking them.
This is not a paid internship, is it?
It’s unpaid. I would work 20-25 hours a week, stayed late whenever necessary, and also worked some Saturdays. But I got a platinum pass to the SXSW festival plus full staff access – it was amazing. There was a huge network of very important people that I got to interact with and be professional with. And the experience I gained was invaluable in terms of what I might want to do in the future. In particular, I learned how to function in a high-stress, fast-paced environment where I learned to take responsibility so I was contributing something rather than adding to my boss’ problems. The self-management and confidence that I developed through this internship will stay with me forever.
In doing that job, what skills do you think you drew on from being a Liberal Arts major?
I’d say writing. I had maybe 50 emails to compose every day to different kinds of people that required me to communicate the message effectively, not offend or confuse anyone, and use proper grammar. The practice of writing lots of papers for my courses enabled me to write anything really quickly. Plus, with my government background I was able to help by looking over legal contracts. I started out thinking that what I was doing was insignificant and would not have much of an impact, but I realized very quickly that what I was able to contribute was a really big deal.
Zack, you’ve held a number of political internships during your time at UT, including one at the Department of Education in DC this summer. But the internship bug was biting even before you came to college, wasn’t it?
Yes. I was a congressional page during my junior year of high school. I was 16 years old and sat in the House chamber in DC at a desk right next to that of the Speaker. I got to attend President Reagan’s funeral and joint sessions of Congress….it was an incredible opportunity and a pivotal moment for me, when I decided that this was the course I’d like my life to take.
Did your parents have any political connections…is that how you came to get that internship?
Not at all. My grandfather was always talking about politics and I’d lived in DC during my middle school years. But the way I got that internship was simply by writing to my member of Congress, whom I didn’t know at all, expressing an interest in the political process, then sending in my test scores and doing well at the interview. I was looking for things to do over the summer and the page program was not only a great experience to have at that age, but has been beneficial to me ever since.
I think having that kind of experience inspires you to go on and do something that you can’t learn simply by reading a textbook. It also humbles you and requires that you set realistic expectations. For example, during my first semester at UT I interned for a State representative who was campaigning in south Austin. I rode in the car with him…was his “shadow” or assistant. I’d do things like put up campaign signs, make phone calls…things that other folks might think of as meager or unimportant. But the value of doing internships is to be in the presence of all these different kinds of people, seeing what they do in their real lives, and to assess if those are the kinds of things you’d eventually like to do. So there are cool duties and boring duties – and you have to accept whatever’s offered to you. Rather like when I was a congressional page. One minute I’d be climbing through the attic to put the flag on the top of the roof of the Capitol building, next I’d be pouring water for the Speaker. But no matter what it is you’re called upon to do, the insights you get just from being there are hugely valuable – as long as you see it that way.
And of course you’re making valuable connections at the same time.
Absolutely. That’s why I like to be involved in so many different facets of service – whether that’s being part of national government, state government, local government, or student government. In fact, I’ve found that it’s through on-campus student government that I’ve been able to connect all of these various experiences. For example, I started a program called Big 12 on the Hill that brought together a bunch of student leaders to Washington to lobby for increased student aid. Thanks to my experience as a congressional page and my exposure to Congress I was able to bring over 100 people to DC the last two years. It was during one of our meetings with the Under-Secretary for Education, Sarah Martinez-Tucker, that she asked what I was doing this summer and whether I’d be interested in an internship within the Department of Education. That’s where I’m working currently—bringing a student perspective to an office that I once visited to fight for students. Now I can contribute to one of the causes I am passionate about from the inside.
So how does this all fit into your career plans?
Right now I’m thinking I want to go to law school but I’m willing to say that might not be the right thing for me. So I need a back-up plan and the various internships I’ve held during my time at UT – working on a State Representative campaign, at the Capitol for a State Representative, as well as for AmeriCorps– have helped me develop well-balanced expertise that ensures that I’m marketable. I may want to join Teach for America or the Peace Corps once I’ve graduated, and the various internships I’ve held will prevent me from becoming pigeonholed into one area only. I could probably work in business or go to Washington…a lot of students my age start freaking out about their careers in their junior or senior years, wondering what they’re going to do. Not me; I’ll deal with it.
Aside from the confidence that comes from knowing you are building a really good resume, what other transferable skills would you say you’ve developed from the various internships you’ve held?
Communication skills, definitely. I’ve had to be out there meeting different people, telling them what we believe and why they should join our cause. You can’t learn that from a book, you have to put yourself in situations where you do this almost daily. Then there are things like professional etiquette, working in teams and simple things like knowing how to shake hands, dress and conduct yourself appropriately. Again, you can’t learn that in the classroom. So, yes, I’ve had this broad range of experiences, all of which have been different, but have all helped me better understand what I might do in the future, develop the skills that will ensure I meet my career goals, and enjoy some truly amazing experiences.
You’ve been going to this camp since you were eight years old, prior to becoming a camp counselor. How did those experiences as a camper play into your decision to become a counselor yourself?
It’s funny how, when I think back, I was always worried about how camp would go each year. And I do remember feeling homesick for a while. But every year turned out to be this amazing, fun experience and I had such a blast that by the time term was over I didn’t want to leave. Not only was I able to make new friends, meet up with old ones, and interact with hundreds of people from all walks of life whom I wouldn’t have met otherwise, but as a camper I remember loving seeing my counselors coming back year after year. This will be my fifth summer as a camp counselor and I’m getting close to quitting, what with trying to graduate and working out what my career will look like, but it’s hard to walk away because not only has Camp Longhorn been like a second home to me, but there so many people there who have a profound impact on my life, and making the kids happy year after year is what camp is all about.
This is a paid internship, right? And what exactly do you do as a camp counselor?
You know, I never really think of this as an internship, just spending another summer at camp. But you’re right, it is paid. I get paid to have fun as well as develop some amazingly important life skills. On top of that, everything is covered – room, board, meals, the training you’re given. Plus, they pay us various bonuses based on how many terms we’ve done in the past, for signing up early, and having all your campers return from the previous year.
As a camp counselor it’s my job to make sure the campers have as much fun as possible. You live in the same cabin with them, and are responsible for their health and wellbeing. I also work as one of the photographers on staff there taking pictures, posting them to the web everyday for parents and family members to see how much their kids are having, help with the term slideshow, and get to have my some of my pictures added to the Longhorn Annual Yearbook. If anyone is interested, they should check out the Camp Longhorn website and click on “Counselors and Staff.” That covers all the information you need to decide if this experience is for you.
You mentioned that working at Camp Longhorn has helped you develop certain life skills. What are some of the ones that you consider to be most important for your future career success?
I'm not entirely sure what I want to do for a career. I’ve been thinking about going to law school and I’m certainly interested in working somewhere in the judicial system. But regardless of where I end up, there are some really valuable transferable skills I can always draw on. These include responsibility, accountability, interpersonal skills, and handling difficult situations with tact and confidence.
Then, of course, there’s the fact that I have this muscle disorder I’ve had since I was eight years old. I spent my entire high school career in a wheel chair not being able to walk long distances, but despite that restraint, I still made it around camp year after year as a camper and now as a counselor I have had the privilege of using a golf cart to get around when needed. Camp Longhorn Indian Springs is located between two private fed lakes in Burnet surrounded by the Texas Hill Country. Going from one side to the other, engaging in all the activities is not an easy walk for anybody! You could say I’m someone who has not only overcome adversity but seeks to inspire others with my positive mindset and attitude that I can do anything I want to do.
Tell me more about that.
I have a genetic disorder called child onset dystonia which causes involuntary spasms and muscle contractions… They first started in my right leg and have since spread throughout my entire body. Although it is physical and not mental, it has meant that I’ve had to have numerous experimental operations on my brain and throughout my body in the past 13 years. But I have never let this hold me back when I was a camper myself and it certainly hasn’t now that I’m a counselor. My confidence and positive experiences at camp have not only encouraged me to carry out that same attitude in every aspect of my everyday life, but they have also provided me with strength, courage, and have inspired me with a desire to accomplish anything I put my mind to.
I think it was important for my fellow campers to be exposed to someone with a physical disability and realize how important it is to do as much as you can and believe that anything is possible. Camp truly is a special, amazing place for all kids and counselors that helps build character, friendship, responsibility, and helps to learn how to interact with different people. It also teaches you to forget your problems in the real world and just enjoy yourself. You soon come to realize that no matter whether the experiences you have are good or bad, you should learn from them and use that learning to move toward the future with confidence. That’s certainly a great perspective to have as you move into a career.