[Intern Reflections] Alyssa Wilson: “Words of Wisdom for Future Interns”
As my time with the American Council of Young Political Leaders (or ACYPL) has now come to a close, I have started to reflect on all that I have learned and on the impact my time there has left on me. Recognizing that interning is a kind of revolving job, and after being asked by several friends to really explain my internship, I figured the most comprehensive way was to write a brief letter to future interns at ACYPL.
Dear Future ACYPL Intern,
ACYPL, a small nonprofit located between a Starbucks and a hamburger joint with a casual dress code, may not be exactly what you’re expecting from your DC internship, but I can tell you that it’s unique niche in foreign policy, diplomacy, and goodwill may be exactly what you didn’t know you needed.
ACYPL has a small staff, so you’ll get to know each of them personally, and possibly even work with each of them; this is an immense privilege. Everyone in the office has a heart of gold, and will welcome you into the ACYPL family with open arms. They are always open to questions, always willing to teach you a new skill, and always keen to listen to your individual story. Some of my favorite ACYPL moments have been just brief conversations in passing with my fellow co-workers.
Their work is vast for such a small staff– they coordinate between 20-30 political exchanges each year, and you can be a large part of that, if you choose. One of the things you’ll hear most in the office is, “the internship is what you make of it.” If you’re proactive, if you’re open and available, there’s always work to be done. In my time in ACYPL, I had the opportunity to meet a delegation of New Zealand members of Parliament and not only were they some of the most humble and kind politicians I’ve met, but ACYPL also let me tag along to meetings, and listen to them ask poignant questions about US politics (why do we vote on a Tuesday anyway?). Thanks to ACYPL, I had the opportunity to meet people from a part of the world I knew virtually nothing about, and learn how foreign policy affects our everyday lives. When delegations aren’t in town it’s business as usual, and sometimes this may seem less important, blasé, or uninteresting, but I assure you, the housekeeping jobs, such as updating alumni lists or digitizing records are some of the most important work I did during my internship.
At the end of the day, if you believe that mutual friendships build bonds stronger than prejudice, hatred, or policy and if you believe in the power of individuals, ACYPL is the place for you.
Formerly known as Intern3
Saying goodbye to ACYPL was one of the hardest goodbyes of the summer. It has become a part of me, and it has forever changed the way I see the world. Thank you for everything you do, ACYPL. I experienced first hand the importance of individual connections, and I’ve felt how those connections change people. You are changing lives, and that kind of affect leaves a mark on people’s souls. One day this world will see what you guys already know, but for now, it’s one soul at a time.
Alyssa Wilson is a junior at Franklin University in Switzerland and interned with ACYPL during the summer of 2015.