Thursday, April 4, 2013

My Internship

As a final semester senior, I got onto the internship bandwagon a bit late. However, my experience this semester as an Immigration Services intern for the International Institute of Minnesota has been phenomenal.

I became aware of the internships at the Institute thanks to both the Internship Office's website and the emails I receive through the International Studies department. Organizations tend to have good luck with Mac students as interns from what I hear so many communicate directly with the various departments on campus who then communicate news of internships to their majors first. In fact, I am one of at least 5 Mac students interning at the Institute right now (I work Tuesday and Thursday afternoons so I don't see everyone working there). I am doing this internship on top of an almost full course load which worried me at first but once I started I realized it was completely doable (I chose not to register my internship for credit).

My job is mainly to assist the Institute's clients, mainly refugees and asylees, with their citizenship applications ensuring everything is filled out properly and that they have all of the necessary documents. The citizenship application is quite lengthy and not designed with the applicant in mind - particularly an applicant whose first language is not English. Thus, one aspect of my job is explaining what US Immigration is looking for and what some of the questions mean. For example, how do you explain what a totalitarian party is to a Somali refugee or what the word persecuted means to someone for whom English is not their first language. This is often both challenging and fun as people warm up to you when they see you are doing your best to ensure everything makes sense to them. Their are other departments within the Institute dealing with refugee resettlement, Nursing aid classes, English courses, etc. Anyone with an interest in refugees, immigration, or just for getting a feel for what working at a small non-profit is like should look into working for the Institute.