Monthly Archives: December 2015

A semester in the rear-view mirror

As I sit here at my laptop, thinking about the best way to sum up the semester, I cannot help but wonder where the time went. As clichéd as it sounds, this semester truly was over before I even realized it began. It seems like just yesterday that Sarah met with Leah, Bridget, and I for the first time and outlined the expectations for the semester. I was so full of energy, optimism, and hope at the time, and as I reach the end of the gauntlet that this semester has been, I can’t believe it went by so quickly.

I wish I could say I adhered to that original plan a little more closely, but alas, life got in the way and I never felt I was able to perform at my best. This semester I encountered a lot of challenges I’ve never had to deal with before, such as a broken computer, much more challenging classes, and a crisis of identity and uncertainty about my career goals. However, despite all the missed deadlines, late nights spent wondering what on earth I was doing with my life, and anxiety, I believe that I have grown a lot as a person. The entire time, the Center for Global Studies was there to help challenge me and enrich my life in a multitude of ways.

The wide array of guest lecturers helped me to experience viewpoints and cultures from all over the world. It fostered greater curiosity in me about life outside the cozy (and convenient) confines of America. Each lecturer I interacted with was infinitely interesting, generous, and fascinating to listen to. Michael Gaw, the Assistant Director in the Division of Trading and Markets of the SEC,  in particular struck me as an inspiration. Like me (so far), his college career had an unconventional path without a clear goal for the future. Also like me, he lived in Cincinnati, OH. Speaking with him and hearing his lecture highlighted the importance for me to discover what I am best at, combine that with things I am passionate about, and then figure out a way to market that skill to employers.

Helping to plan the Onward on Climate Rally as my intern event was one way that I felt I was able to do this during the semester. It allowed me to combine my love for environmental activism with my writing skills to help bring a great cause to the Penn State Community, and thanks to the CGS, the event was able to reach more people and make more of an impact.

In the midst of all the chaos of the semester, this internship has given me the opportunity to develop crucial skills for the future and practice tasks that are applicable for many different career paths. Luckily, it also showed me many things I need to do better. Time management and self-motivation certainly top the list.

I am thankful for the opportunities this internship has presented me, and most importantly, the wonderful people it has surrounded me with. Whether it was the guest lecturers, my bosses Sarah and Mary, or my fellow interns Bridget and Leah, the people here have inspired me to grow as a student, employee, and person. Although I will no longer be a member of this fantastic team, I’ll always have a fond spot in my memory of the time spent with the Center.

Saying Goodbye

Most of the tasks I completed this semester were similar to those I had accomplished last spring. We continued to compile monthly newsletters that reported on the events the Center had sponsored, as well as previewed some of the more anticipated events for the next moth. I also continued to blog about my experience as an intern, though many of my blogs were focused on my dreaded internship event – a.k.a. the bane of my existence. I created lots flyers for various lectures, which became one of my favorite tasks while an intern at the Center for Global Studies. It may sound silly, but I enjoyed creating their design and took great care and joy in finding an aesthetic that reflected the lecture and speaker effectively and appropriately. In addition to all the lecture series, newsletters, and press releases, I also had the opportunity to interview one of the speakers. Michael Gaw currently serves as an Assistant Director in the Division of Trading and Markets of the Securities and Exchange Commission in Washington DC. He works on issues relating to trading rules and trade reporting for equities, fixed income, and derivative securities. Mr. Gaw graduated from Harvard College in 1990 with an AB in Social Studies, the University of Cambridge in 1992 with a MPhil in European Studies, and from Boston College Law School in 1995 with a JD. Mr. Gaw came to Penn State to talk about his unconventional education and career path and the journey the started with him studying Social and European Studies and ended with him working at the SEC. I was able to interview him and gain his perspective on the current state of undergraduate education and Liberal Arts degrees, as well as his advice for current college students, who are searching for a meaningful job or career, but may have degrees that are stereotyped or overlooked by employers. As a soon-to-be college graduate with a Liberal Arts degree, daunted by the job market, I found his insights to be very direct, sincere, and comforting. After all, like he mentioned, “…just because everyone expects you to have it all figured out at twenty-something years old, doesn’t mean you have to have it all figured out. You’re young, and it’s okay to move refrigerators for year before finding your career.”

This semester, I also had to complete my aforementioned, dreaded intern event. To sum up my feelings on the lecture, I will say this: I am glad I hosted it and I think it included honest, constructive discussion on global topics that are easily ignored, however, I am ecstatic that I will never have to plan one again. The time and exhaustive effort that I dedicated to executing that event were well worth it, but not something I would gladly endure again. Trying to match up schedules and curate content and designing marketing materials, while ensuring to get the “ok” from the speaker on everything was a constant, enduring struggle on my end. Luckily, I decided to host Dr. Lee Ann De Reus, an Associate Professor of Human Development & Family Studies and Women Studies at Pennsylvania State University-Altoona and the co-founder/assistant executive director of Panzi Foundation USA, who is not only knowledgeable in the area of international work, but an absolute delight. Dr. De Reus is personable and relatable and can easily incite college students to actively participate in profound discussion – no easy feat. I am very grateful to her for volunteering her time and for leading such an engaging lecture and conversation. Thank you Dr. De Reus.

This will be my last blog as an intern for the Center for Global Studies, as I will not be returning next semester. I am grateful for this experience and I wish Sarah Mary, and Bridget the best of luck for the spring semester. Thanks to everyone who has helped me during this internship!

Conquering Mount Everest

As the semester comes to an end I’m finally able to take a step back, take a breath, and reflect on the battlefield behind me. In 3 ½ short months I’ve accomplished more in developing myself than I have in the past couple of years. The Center of Global Studies has helped me to achieve this goal.

I’ve already spoken on press releases, newsletters, weekly events, and flyers. Now it’s time to discuss the end goal. As a sort of “final project” for the internship, each intern and graduate assistant was tasked with planning, coordinating, and managing our very own global studies event on campus. The project is meant to put into practice the accumulation of skills we’ve gained throughout the semester.

For my event I chose to screen the movie, Young and Restless in China, a documentary that follows the lives of 9 young men and women in China as they learn to live in a rapidly changing economy and society. I created a press release and flyer for the event, and even spoke with a few teachers to ask them to incentivize their students to go. The end result was magical: there wasn’t an empty seat or dry eye in the room!…Just kidding. Only 6 people showed up.

Although some people might count that as a loss, I’m personally very happy with the results. The event was a valuable learning experience and it taught me how to successfully plan for the future. I now know that planning an event a few days after Thanksgiving break and two weeks before finals isn’t the most ideal time. I also know that the event should be promoted earlier so students have time to fit it into their schedules. When it comes time to plan my next event, I’ll be ready for the challenges. Now I can say I have the experience under my belt.

This is the way we learn. We try and we succeed or we try and we fail. Either way it’s the process that counts.