The word “success” is thrown at us from our very start in education and we are constantly told to be successful. What we aren’t necessarily told is what exactly success looks like or is. I was always frustrated and confused with growing up, but my internship experience has allowed me to expand on that definition.
Success is very subjective and looks different for every single person, but my internship has taught me that it is mainly about doing constructive work that you enjoy/are passionate about. While applying for internships, to some degree I based my success off whether or not I received an offer from a high-profile or well-known organization. Though, all of the places I applied to had the common goal of expanding human and civil rights that I defined to be my internal feeling of success. When I finally decided on the internship I was going to take, I chose the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee because its work hugely helps my community, as an Arab, and because my personal, cultural, and educational background fit hand-in-hand with my expected work. Having been in DC for over a month now, to this day I still get told by other interns that they have never heard of the organization. I knew that the work the organization does was impactful nonetheless, but these kind of remarks made me self-conscious about my internship. In a world where success is defined by position and power, internships have become another padding to resumes instead of valuable experiences.
The pressure of obtaining an internship with an organization that is well-known sometimes overrides one’s personal preferences for the organization they intern with. I can’t say that at first, this wasn’t a pressuring factor for me either and, even while interning, there is still a little piece inside of me that questions whether or not my internship choice was the right choice for “success”. But at the same time, I am learning so much about myself and about what I do and don’t want to be doing through this internship. I am also working within a community/focus area that I am extremely passionate, so this internship has shredded the doubt I had in mind when considering making this community my focus area for the future. This alone is enough for me and has made me expand on my definition of success to include my personal happiness, comfort, and passion which is hard to prioritize in an ever-growing competitive world.