Sorry friends. No pretty pictures for this blog. Just imagine the Mediterranean breeze while reading it.
Hello all my friends and followers. I hope you are enjoying the wonderful spring weather (tehe, it’s snowing in MA and sixty degrees in Manchester; had to make that cheap jab). I am going to take a walk down the road less traveled and not talk about studying abroad for once (cue simultaneous sighs of relief and boos). I am going to be sharing my experience in the ACUHO-I Internship program.
Now I’m sure a couple people are asking what the heck an ACUHO-I is. Well, my curious little learners, ACUHO-I stands for The Association of College and University Housing Officers – International. Breaking it down, it’s an organization that supports members of the housing community. For my international friends, accommodation in America and several universities elsewhere is much different than it is where you are. Rather than being moved into your room and not having any interaction with members of the Accommodation Office until you check out, in America, housing at universities strive to create an environment that is conducive to social, educational, cultural, physical, and emotional growth. That is done through programming (we do events in your hall to keep you entertained as well as educate) and bulletin boards. Students called Resident Assistants live with you in the same hall (usually one or two RAs to a floor) and create a sense of community with the goal of having all of their residents feel like their hall is a home rather than just a room. It’s very difficult to explain how much of a contrast it is living at university in the States having lived in housing in the UK, but that’s what I came up with.
Back to ACUHO-I, one of the great things that they do every year is a housing internship program. This allows graduate and undergraduate students the opportunity to work at another university for the summer and gain more experience in residence life. It is a really beneficial opportunity for anyone that is going into student affairs. Not even going into the benefits of having an internship to bolster your resume, it allows you to see what it’s like to apply and interview for a position in the field. The program does cost you $30. The great part of that cost is that it gives you membership to ACUHO-I for the next twelve months.
So I was unsure whether or not to take part in the program because I saw that it was geared more for graduate students and I didn’t want to look under qualified compared to other candidates. I ended up having lunch with the Director of Residence Life and Housing at my university, Beth Moriarty, and she encouraged me to take part. I have to say that I owe so much gratitude to Beth for being such a great mentor as I learn more about student affairs and getting ready for graduate school. I would be lost without her help so thank you so much Beth!
I paid my $30 in October and was all excited to look through internships… until I realized that they aren’t released until January. I panicked quite a lot when I found that out… I would be abroad while applying for internships back in the States. I didn’t know if that was going to make me look unfavorable as I had to request video interviews on top of applying for positions. On the flip side, it also let the schools know that I had experience with study abroad, which is a great attribute for anybody to have regardless of what you’re applying for (and provides great conversation starters!)
Fast forward three months and the internship listing opened! My jaw dropped at all the positions that were open. Another thing that relieved me was that the positions were sorted based on what the school wanted in terms of educational background (aka. Some schools specifically wanted an undergrad). I was given advice that while you should always look up and see what the school is like before applying for positions, in this situation where I am at a possible disadvantage for being an undergrad, quantity is better than quality. So I applied to A LOT of positions. The great thing is that 95% of the positions that I applied to were ones that I was genuinely interested in.
The problem with me being so excited about this program was that I applied for all my positions the first day they were available. There was still a week between applying for positions and schools being notified of applicants so there was another waiting game! I became concerned after several days passed without schools contacting me. I decided that it was best to be proactive and reach other via email to the schools I applied to. Best decision that I made. The emails started to pour in with requests for cover letters, resumes, and interview requests. My luck was turning.
I ended up having interviews with thirteen schools. I have to say that I am very proud to have gotten that many interviews. I was expecting to get five at most but I underestimated myself. After going through my first several interviews, my perspective of the program changed. Initially, I was doing this solely because I wanted a housing internship for the summer to solidify that I wanted to go into student affairs. I wanted to make sure that I was in love with student affairs in general and not just my undergraduate experience. After having some great conversations with awesome departments, I realized that I was equally happy being able to gain knowledge from so many schools and how they operate. As much as an internship is going to help me getting to know student affairs intensively for several months, being able to talk with so many schools about what they’re about opened my eyes so much. By the end of interviews, I was content with or without an internship (of course I still wanted one!).
The interviews also gave me a chance to develop professionally. I have been lucky that I have gotten a job with every application I’ve submitted but two in my entire life. This was the first time I was applying for a position in ResLife externally and it really opened my eyes to how it works. It also gave me a chance to work on how to fine-tune my resume and writing cover letters. Additionally, it was the first time I had to research about the position I was applying for as well as the institution the position was at. This really has helped me prepare myself for when I apply for live-in positions or graduate school.
Then there was another waiting game. Positions were not able to be offered until the day before Valentine’s Day. This was even more of a problem for me because I would be in Paris as offers went out! I was afraid that I would be offered a position and could not respond in a timely fashion and would lose out (I am really good at analyzing and predicting obstacles).
Finally, after four days of no correspondence, I got a message on Skype from one of the schools I applied to. They asked if I had received their voicemail. I did not even think that offers would go out via phone. The number that I had listed on my resume was for the phone that works in the US that charges an absorbent amount overseas. Even worse was that I was in Paris and had left my phone back in Manchester so I had no way of checking my voicemail. I told them that I had no way of accessing my voicemail. They then skyped me in my hostel and offered me a position. I was so excited. I officially had an internship for the summer. I told them that I would get back to them as I wanted to make sure that I had time to reach all my other schools to see if they’d offered me anything as well. It ended up that I was offered two positions and an alternate position.
After four months, I finally had landed and accepted an internship position. I am happy to say I will be the ACUHO-I Intern at Frostburg State University in Maryland, working in their Conferences Department. I ended up choosing Frostburg because I needed to look at what was going to best support me when I got back from England. I knew that I was looking at credit cards having to be paid off and needed to go with what was going to be best financially. With this position, I am able to get paid hourly without a cap amount of hours, so I can be the workaholic I am while being paid for every minute of it!
I am so excited for the summer. It is going to be a great experience working at Frostburg and getting to learn intensively for three months. It’s so crazy how the things that are in the distant future have you wanting time to move fast. Even though I am having the time of my life studying abroad in Manchester, travelling throughout Europe, a part of me wants summer to come right now so I can come home, see everyone at Bridgewater, and start my internship. I am truly blessed to have such great things happening in my life right now.
I want to say thank you to ACUHO-I for having such an amazing program that gives undergraduates and graduates the opportunity to develop throughout the application process as well as connecting us to wonderful departments across the country and internationally. I’d like to thank Frostburg State for giving me this opportunity to share my strengths and make this summer great for both the university and for myself. Also, thank you to all the schools I applied to. This experience would have been nothing without interviewing with every single school I had the opportunity to learn from. I would be lucky if I ended up at any of your institutions full-time in the future. Lastly thanks to the student affairs professionals at Bridgewater State, especially Beth, for being such a strong support system for me through this process. Even though I am an ocean away, I felt supported at all times and am so thankful to have such amazing people to learn from on a daily basis. I hope I can come back from this summer and be able to share my experience so that others can benefit from it.
It’s sad this blog is almost two thousand words and on the short end of my blogs over the past two months. I think this is going to be my last blog for a couple weeks. Other than a concert I am going to tomorrow (TYLER WARD AHHHHHH!) and a football game the weekend after (Go Manchester City!), I have nothing going on until March 5th, when two of my closest friends are visiting me for their Spring Break! We’re going to Dublin, Manchester, and possibly a third location. So excited to see a piece of home!
Alrighty friends and followers, I’m out!