Written by Bettina Canuto – 2016 Program Advisor, Institute on Philanthropy and Voluntary Service
I have always been interested in internships and after coming to Washington, DC in the summer of 2014 for a Higher Education Summit, I instantly fell in love with the city. I learned about The Fund for American Studies when my professor shared a flyer for their programs. The opportunity of coming back to DC was very enticing, but the idea of a whole month interning and living in the busy bustling city was nerve-wracking. However, I went on with the application, and my life changed when I received my acceptance email, an array of opportunities opened up to me.
I interned for Mentors, Inc. which is a nonprofit organization that is devoted to matching high school students in the DC with a mentor, and gives them the resources necessary to succeed and pursue higher education. Through my first initial video interview with three members of Mentors, Inc., I felt confident that this organization would be a good fit for my interests, but I was nervous and concerned about what I would be doing. However, this internship changed my life for the better, created long-term friendships and a sense of professionalism that I wasn’t exposed to in the past. I worked with the mentor side of the operations and became very hands on in the process. I was also able to attend mentor interviews and sit in on council meetings with community leaders. Interning for an organization that gave me these experiences and genuinely looked out for my well-being is something I will never forget.
I was fortunate to intern with two other IPVS students. They, along with my roommate Katherine, turned from being strangers to essentially being family. My summer would not have been as memorable if it wasn’t for Katherine. We did everything together, from making dinner to visiting every possible museum. The 4-week program went by so fast that the next thing we knew, we were packing to go back home.
This experience opened so many doors and opportunities for me. I advise future TFAS students to get out there and make friends. Make memories so that one day, you can tell everyone you know that you were there to make a change not only for yourself but also for your community. Get out of your comfort zone, get lost while taking the Metro, eat homemade Pop Tarts, visit free museums and take in the history that is Washington DC. The summer you spend with TFAS is a memory that will forever be engraved in your mind and the connections and friendships you make will run for life — and I know that every TFAS alumni can vouch for the same testament.