Real Responsibilities, Meaningful Experience
Are you looking for an internship where you can gain practical experience? Do you have a passion for justice or a desire to learn about issues faced by refugee and immigrants?
From the start, as a World Relief Chicagoland intern, you have real responsibilities. With that comes the opportunity to engage directly with the immigrants and refugees that the organization serves. Alongside World Relief’s full-time staff, interns get to build relationships and play an active role in meaningful work. We think that makes World Relief internships pretty special.
World Relief’s interns play an important role in executing tasks and facilitating activities throughout each department. Some interns support a program area like Education or Immigration Legal Services. Others learn about community engagement and marketing or use their data and research skills.
And when the internship is over, interns move forward with valuable skills and practical knowledge about immigrant and refugee services.
To help you imagine what your experience interning with World Relief could be like, we talked to Kaitlin Liebling. Kaitlin is a senior at Wheaton College who talked with us about what she learned through her internship with the Employment Services team and why she recommends that other students apply to intern with World Relief.
Meet Kaitlin, Former Intern
Hi Kaitlin! Could you start by telling me a little about yourself?
I’m currently a student at Wheaton College and I’m a double major in International Relations and Spanish. I’m currently in my fourth year and from West Chicago, Illinois originally.
When I came into Wheaton, I was unsure about what I wanted to study. I had no idea what International Relations was, but then I took one intro class in International Relations, and I loved it. I had always read the news a lot, been interested in what was going on outside of the U.S., so I landed on International Relations very quickly.
How did you get connected to World Relief and what interested you about interning with us?
I have known about World Relief my whole life from growing up in the area, but didn’t know much aside from that the organization helps refugees. Initially, I got an email that World Relief was looking for interns for the fall, and I needed an internship for my International Relations major requirements. I read over the intern responsibilities online, and I thought, “It sounds like a really cool opportunity, I need an internship, I like the mission of World Relief, it sounds really interesting to help refugees.” I applied and got the internship!
How did you end up on the Employment Services team?
On the application, you can put your top two department choices. I believe I put Employment Services and Immigration Legal Services, and Courtney and I talked in the interview [about the requirements for each team]. I thought, “Let’s do Employment Services. It sounds interesting. I’m not quire sure what that means, but let’s try that.” Courtney had me interview with Dan, my supervisor on the Employment team.
How would you describe the work of Employment Services?
The job of Employment Services is to get newly arrived refugees a job within their first three months in the country. It’s super important that they get a “survival” job right away. Luckily, the department has a lot of connections with employers in the area. We help them with preparing for their interview, preparing for the American workplace that often has different standards for everything from hygiene to preparing a resume, and then also, in the future, Employment Services helps people who have been here for six months or a year to start down a career path with the ultimate goal that they make even more money beyond their “survival” job.
What are a few things you learned in your internship?
I have a better understanding of what it means to be a refugee now than I had before. I honestly don’t know if I had met a refugee before my internship. Obviously, I’m not a refugee and I haven’t experienced that for myself, but I have now talked with dozens of people from Afghanistan, Sudan, Myanmar, and all these other countries. I have gotten to know a lot of them, on driving trips to the doctor, the food pantry, to get a permit at the DMV…
I feel like I understand better now how difficult a decision it was to leave their home country, and how much they miss their old lives. While they’re grateful to be in America, they also really miss their home countries. It wasn’t necessarily their choice to come to America, it was really for safety reasons a lot of the time. I understand now how difficult it is to adapt to a country that is so different from your home country. There are so many different customs and cultural things.
I really think it increased my understanding of their situation, my empathy for refugees, and my support for them as well from having the one-on-one interaction.
What were your favorite things about interning? Why should other students consider joining World Relief as an intern?
The variety of the intern work I did was really cool and engaging. I did a lot of different things during my internship. I did office work, I helped manage and compile documents, and I created new documents for Career Pathways, but I also drove people places and helped with the job club as well. Every day, I came in for my internship not knowing what the day was going to look like and what I was going to do. I liked that.
I loved working with the Employment Services team. Everyone there was so nice and so supportive. I felt like I could ask anyone any question and they would be happy to help me out. We were really a team. It’s a good group of people that you would want to work with, so that’s a positive for sure.
Where there any ways that you came to understand your faith and role in the world as a Christian differently as a result of this internship?
It put into practice the call from Christ and the Gospels to love the foreigner and welcome the stranger. You can see that throughout the Old Testament. That God exhibits special care for the foreigner because they can often be forgotten or left behind and they often need extra resources to help them in their new country that they’re not used to. World Relief does this practically. I think it’s been very rewarding work. And a way for me to see my faith lived out in practical ways to help people and welcome them to my country.
And through practical means! On the Employment Services team, I did lots of resume reviews. I got resumes that were 7, 8, 9 pages long from refugees. That’s what’s normal in their countries, but a way of loving them and welcoming them to America is to say, “This needs to be one page and one page only for most jobs.” That’s a way to serve them where I could see my faith lived out through my work.
Is there anything else you would like to share?
I would encourage students who are interested in World Relief or need an internship to really consider doing it with World Relief. It’s very rewarding work. You learn a lot about other cultures. You meet a wide variety of people. And I think especially with all of the Afghan refugees coming in, more help from other interns would be appreciated. If you have a heart for refugees, I hope that you would consider an internship with World Relief.
Apply to Intern Today
Find out how you can contribute your knowledge, talent, and passion for creating welcoming communities. Apply to be a World Relief intern today!
Not looking for more than an internship? Consider one of our open positions!
This post was originally published on World Relief.