From NM to Iraq to CA | Life of an Unpaid Intern

I’ve spent a little over 6 months interning for free (over the last 12 months). In fact, not only have I not been getting paid, I’ve been paying to intern (in terms of moving and the costs of just living in a new place).

Friends and family ask me why I do it, even other interns ask why they do it. Is it just for a great chapter in your life or little extra section in your resume?

While interning with Preemptive Love Coalition I learned so many new and great things, but I didn’t go into the internship thinking I would. I applied to intern for the adventure. To be able to travel to a country I knew so little about, and what I did know came from the skewed news coverage on the Iraqi war and the perception of people from the Middle East. I mean, come on, the past few years in college have been completely focused on international organizations, international political economy, national defense strategies, ect… How was I NOT going to take an internship in Iraq?! I WOULD FEEL LIKE SUCH A BAD-ASS!

In the beginning I had no idea what my internship was going to look like, or what I was going to be doing. Little did I know that the staff at PLC was placing me into the perfect position. I was one of the communications intern for PLC. I managed the blog and did A LOT of copy editing (which is slightly strange since grammar and I were not friends…at all). I LOVED IT! I, thoroughly, enjoyed editing people’s work. I liked researching for ideas, inspiration and analytics. Seeing how other non-profits made their blogs and sites work encouraged me to do my best and make the content on PLC’s site even better.

Even more than these things, I fell in love with their model. PLC isn’t a band-aid on the problem (eradicating the backlog of children in need of heart surgeries in Iraq), but they are holistically trying to heal hearts by training Iraqi doctors and nurses to do it themselves. Their goal isn’t to make Iraqi heart centers and fill them with American doctors and nurses, but to fill them with Iraqis who can help their own people- Sunni, Shia, Arab and Kurds alike.

Maybe what made my internship more meaningful is that Preemptive Love helped me form questions of what makes an NGO ‘good.’ Are non-profits actually accomplishing anything? Who are they helping? How do you measure the impact? Actually, after my time at PLC I was convinced no other non-profit could come close to the solid, beautiful model PLC was living out. You could say PLC ruined my view of non-profits.

This is now about the time Krochet Kids intl comes into the picture. I didn’t want to intern for them. I HAD TO. `

Seriously, Northern Iraq to Newport Beach? How much more of an opposite life can you get?

Stayed tuned for Part 2…Krochet Kids intl and why interning is STILL amazing.


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