Backup Plan

After spending this summer working in the National Forum on Higher Education, I’ve learned a lot. I gained more organizational skills, expanded my network both on and off campus, and found a place on campus that I feel comfortable returning to. I even eat my lunch in the office on days that I’m not scheduled to work, and use it as a place to do other work when I get the chance.

I think the most important thing that I gained from this office, however, was the knowledge of what higher education can be used for. I’m a film major at the moment, and my goal is to move into the film industry after my undergrad career. However, I always tell people that if the film industry doesn’t work out for me, I would go to grad school for higher education and try to work in universities. My summer in the National Forum only bolstered my confidence in my backup plans. My passions in life are stories, and there’s nothing I want to do more than tell those stories through film and writing. Working in the Forum and by interacting with the various networks that are associated with it, I’ve come across people that have connections to the film industry and could help me advance my career after my undergrad years. However, I’ve also met people that use their positions in higher education to work in the areas of my second passion–supporting the needs of under-privileged and underserved communities. The National Forum does a lot of work, for example, with immigrant communities both on and off college campuses, and some of their research efforts focus specifically on ways that undocumented immigrants can be supported by colleges and universities. If I were to go into the field of higher education at any point, that’s what I would want my work to focus on–increasing the opportunities for those who don’t have easy access to higher education. I’m glad that I had the chance to intern in an office where I could meet so many people that do great work while also getting a feel for what my life’s work could look like later on.

One thought on “Backup Plan

  • August 29, 2018 at 9:17 pm

    Alex, what a treat to read your final blog posts from your internship this summer. I’m honestly thrilled you had such an incredible experience. From feeling your connection to the work the office does to your connection with your colleagues, you honestly had a bit of a magical summer it sounds like. Not every student whose blogs I have been reading said they went in to the office for lunch on off day! In all honestly, the National Forum sounds like a really special place: a workplace where people encourage each other to look after physical and mental health is honestly rare. Same for a staff that actually takes a lunch break, it’s too easy to just work and eat at your desk!

    As you think about translating your experience at the National Forum to a job search one day, do you feel this experience has helped you hone in on things that are important to you at the workplace? It sounds like a sense of community and support are paramount. As you explore your options for film and/or higher education, I hope you will consider coming in to see one of our coaches at the Hub to explore your options. Many of us also have master’s degrees in higher education administration (myself included!) and would be happy to talk to you about that as a career option. Finally, have you thought being able to fuse your two loves – film and higher ed? LSA has a 3 person video team who just makes videos to help tell the story of LSA for example. If you’d be interested, I would be happy to help connect you with their Director.

    Finally, I’d be remiss not to mention that I loved your perspective on driving attendees to and from the airport during NLA – “ But most importantly, I learned how to navigate conversations with professionals and make sure that my personality came across and that I was memorable for the person I was talking to.” Many interns would see this as “grunt work” and not seize the valuable opportunity like you did. Kudos!

    Thank you again for giving me a window into your world this summer, Alex. I hope we get the opportunity to meet on campus!


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