Internships: must work for… free?

As many of you know, the Binghamton Poetry Project interviews and accepts students for an internship each semester. Students put their time (at no cost) into working for a non-profit organization. Through this, students are supposed to gain knowledge of a specific field, which could potentially give them the experience they need for an actual career. So, why take an unpaid internship with a non-profit like the Poetry Project? Here are the reasons I’ve discovered:

  1. Experience: Working for a non-profit organization may be challenging and though these challenges don’t bring you a paycheck, what they do bring is life experience. When the Fall 2015 workshops started, I got a real taste of what the Binghamton Poetry Project means to the community. People of all different backgrounds sat together, and for one moment, got to discuss something they love- poetry. Not only was there friendship blossoming but there was inspiration. Everyone was there to not only inspire themselves but inspire one another. Through the workshop I heard many encouraging words: “beautiful,” “interesting,” “I never thought of it that way.” Indeed that is a life lesson I needed.
  2. Connections: Sure, I’ve met people along the way that could potentially help me in the future, but I’ve also connected with people who want nothing from me except my time. I’ve met people who are just as passionate as I am about writing.
  3. Comfort Zones: We all have comfort zones and most of us let them impact our lives in negative ways. Interning pulls me from that comfort zone and teaches me that it’s OK to mess up, and it’s OK to be happy when I succeed. For example, I’ve been working within the community to get donations from various companies. Sometimes I succeed, often times not. And that can be incredibly frustrating but also rewarding. When I receive a donation for The Binghamton Poetry Project I know it’s going to a community who not only loves writing/learning but genuinely loves their community. Interning has also surrounded me with people and places I may have never thought I would enjoy. I will eventually have to do something that intimidates me, such as teaching a workshop. Interning = no more comfort zone.
  4. Self-awareness: I became self-aware while interning. I have found things I love and eventually found things I really prefer to avoid. For example, I love workshops, but dislike being the center of everyone’s attention, which brings me back to point 3 (interning= no comfort zones). I’ve started to become confident in my ability to handle pressure, and although the work can become overwhelming, I have a great team of people to support me at The Binghamton Poetry Project.

So what opportunities can non-profit internships offer? Remember you’re gaining more than added fluff to your resume, and if you’re as lucky as I am, you will make a difference in someone else’s life. Someone may pull you aside and tell you how much your enthusiasm means to them, as was the case for me following our first workshop. That feeling alone is worth all of the hard work.



One thought on “Internships: must work for… free?

  1. Thank you, Kristen, and all who put in time and effort into this project that brings a beautiful art and creative therapeutic outlet to our community.


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