“So, what do you want to be when you grow up?”

We have all gotten this question countless times, and as college students, are still getting it. For some the answer is easy, but for others the question is a bit more difficult. I definitely fall into the latter category. I have wanted to be basically everything in the book. I have had brief aspirations to be an anthropologist, teacher, doctor and up until a few months ago, a lawyer.

However one particular experience completely redefined my career path. Over the summer I interned at the International Institute of Connecticut (IICONN) in Bridgeport, Ct. IICONN is a nonprofit organization that helps immigrants and refugees settle in the United States. I specifically interned in the refugee department and helped refugees with whatever tasks the agency needed to be done. These tasks ranged from taking clients to doctors’ appointments to resume editing. However the most interesting and meaningful part of my internship experience were the relationships I built with the clients. Many of the refugee clients were escaping ethnic conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Eritrea or were coming from war torn Iraq. They had left everything they had ever known to come to the United States in search of peace. One day I was talking with a young mother from Eritrea. I had asked her what her first impression of the United States was and she told me that she loved America because it was a freedom she had never known before and although it had been a hard transition she had done it so that her children would have a better life.

Although I may not continue to work with the refugee population, I know that the experiences and memories I gained from my internship will follow me. Now when someone asks me what I want to do when I graduate the answer is clear, I want to work in a career for the common good, because one of the many lessons my internship left me with its important to do well but it’s more important to do good.

 

-Emily Block