Leon_Allison[1].jpgAugust 2018

Applying for internships as an Odyssey scholar is an intensive process, beginning well before most of one’s classmates do and on a tight timeline. A goal for my experience was to try out a role in a field that I’m considering for my major and, ultimately, a career path. Initially, I focused on an internship related to law and public policy, particularly in the non-profit sector. As can happen, none of those positions came through. My career advisor was ready to help, and recommended applying for a role with the communications team in the Division of the Social Sciences. The position – Strategic Communications Writer – seemed outside of the areas I wanted to explore, but I decided to take a chance and interview for the job.

A few months later, and here I am! I’m so glad that I took my chance. My time here has helped me become better informed in my potential career interests, improved my writing and interpersonal skills, and learn more about the University of Chicago. I’ve spent the summer creating content for the Social Sciences, including writing profiles of graduate students, interviewing faculty, and attending summer conferences. I’ve interviewed a Nobel laureate and a Pulitzer-awarded journalist. I have successfully turned all of these experiences into articles, despite never having written one before. With guidance, I’ve learned how to write for a new audience, as well as how to edit and write at a quicker pace than I am used to.

I’ve also connected with faculty throughout the university and gained a better understanding of how to navigate the departments and resources available through the College. I’ve spoken with UChicago staff who have worked in journalism, government, and the nonprofit field, all fields in which I am interested in.  For example, I met with Anne Dodge, the executive director for the Mansueto Institute for Urban Innovation, an initiative I didn’t know existed before. These talks gave me a better appreciation for what the university does outside of its Hyde Park campus. They’ve also helped me gain confidence in speaking to people and leading conversations.

I believe that I have learned more, and gained a better sense of what I am interested in in a career, than I would’ve working elsewhere. I feel more prepared to take on my second year at the university with all the skills I have gained from this internship. I would advise any Odyssey scholars looking at internships to maintain an open mind, and be willing to go out of their comfort zone. If anything, it really is the perfect time venture out and allow yourself to grow as a person.