I think the best advice I could offer a student planning to do an internship in the field of education with a non-profit organization is to commit to being fully engaged in the experience. It is an unprecedented opportunity to explore how it feels to be around people who share your values and goals, but who are already employed in the field in which you are most interested. It may sound cliché, but what you will gain will be in direct correlation to what you invest in the process. Take advantage of the opportunities to do field trips, including tours, meetings, or site visits, so you can see the practical application of your goals within the real world of work.
I also think it’s important to learn about working within the environment of the office and interpersonal dynamics. Since my internship was with a non-profit organization, stability and funding were challenging issues. The team was solid and passionate and I’m glad I had the opportunity to engage with them on individual and collective levels.
At the end of the experience, there was an organizational restructuring of the staffing of our office, which was quite surprising since many of our supervisors were impacted. But again, even that experience was invaluable, as it provided a real-life backdrop for how difficult it is to work within a non-profit organization which is dependent on funding from outside sources. I am so very grateful that I had the opportunity to learn from people I respected, so I can continue to define my career goals, and I would wish for all interns to immerse themselves in the office experience, the political experience, a new city and endless growth and learning they can apply in their futures.