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.