Last semester, The Career Development Center hosted the CSULB Internship Essay Contest as a part of Internship Week. The contest was open to enrolled CSULB students who have participated in an internship, fieldwork, or student teaching assignment during Fall 2019 or Spring/Summer 2020. Meghan Orr, graduate student in the Master of Social Work program was one of the winners of the Internship Essay Contest and shared her experience reflecting on her academic and professional life.
How did you find out about the internship essay contest, and what made you want to apply?
I found out about the internship contest from the postings that were on campus last fall. At the time I was not eligible to apply for the scholarship, because I hadn't finished my internship yet, so I made a mental note to apply for the following year. I wanted to apply because I enjoy writing, and in undergrad my mom always pestered me about not applying for more scholarships! This one was for you, mom!
What did you learn from the experience?
The actual process of writing and reflecting on my internship was really valuable. I think when students are working on putting together their resumes and cover letters, they have a tendency to skim over their accomplishments or under appreciate the real growth they experienced in a class or internship. Being able to reflect and develop a narrative to talk about what you gained from an experience can really make you stand out from the crowd, so it was great practice to talk about my experience at the YMCA.
Tell us about the reception and how it felt to receive the award.
I was so pleased and surprised to win the overall competition. It was such an honor to get to meet with deans from so many of the departments. Most importantly, my internship field supervisor came and shared about my work at the YMCA, which was wonderful to get to reconnect with her and hear some of her perspective on my time. Some of the judges reached out to me individually to share their appreciation for my essay. My essay was really a love letter to all of the wonderful people I worked with at the YMCA, and it was so rewarding to see that my feelings came through on the page and reached my audience.
What are your professional goals after you complete your degree?
I hope to begin working as a clinical therapist with children and families when I graduate. I would like to get licensed as a clinical social worker, and continue to use writing to further my work. I'm not sure exactly how writing will fit in yet, but I am sure I will make use of this skill, whether it is through grant applications, research, writing articles, or something else entirely.
Any additional thoughts on the essay contest?
One of the things I love about CSULB is how career-focused the school is, and how they are always working to provide students with opportunities to develop their skills and be workforce-ready. We do reflection exercises about our internships a lot in the social work program, and it has been such a valuable part of the process. I think every student that applied for this essay contest gained something by putting their thoughts down on paper about their internship, practicing developing that narrative about their experiences. I'm very grateful to the career development center for this opportunity and scholarship, and all the other opportunities that they put out there for students!