UIntern: a chance to turn an idea into impact

When we started UIntern we set out to make an impact, on students, on the community, and on ourselves.  Now almost a year later, it appears we have – in ways we never expected.  It was an opportunity to prove that an idea could become reality, a chance to turn an opportunities into experiences.  From that experience I have learned about what it means to be a visionary (its easier to paint a picture than construct a reality), an organizer (the universe favors entropy [disorder]), and a collaborator (this would not have happened if I didn’t have my best friends there with me).

All that being said, here’s a reflective analysis of HOW WE CREATED UINTERN:

What Happened (Generally speaking)

The specifics What really happened
  1. Noticed a problem
Recognized a need for valuable, professional opportunities for students over the summer as well as a need for existing organizations to get more brainpower and hands behind their missions.  Most organizations need more strategic support, not more financial support. Assessed the problem and related problems.  Took inventory of what existing resources we had to work with, and what would need to be created.
  1. Dreamed up a solution

 

UIntern would connect interested organizations to motivated students through summer internships. Created an opportunity mutually beneficial partnerships – the only thing missing was the link between them.
  1. Shared the idea
Began talking to people about this idea, could it work? By exploring the idea with others we developed the idea further, committed to it in our own minds, and could gauge its feasibility. By vocalizing our idea, we got valuable feedback and became enchanted by the lure of actually making it happen.
  1. Saw an opportunity
By applying to the Public Engagement Grant we took a number of steps forward (and quickly) while hashing out the details in writing. Committed deeper – by trying to convince others this was a good idea, we convinced ourselves.
  1. Failed
We did not get the grant… Checked out commitment level – how invested were we?
  1. Carried on, over obstacles, through challenges
…But we were still convinced we could make it happen.  We would rethought our resources and redoubled our efforts.  This led to collaborating closely with the Career Center, which was one of the best things we could have done for making UIntern successful and sustainable. Pushed us to find a more reliable structure for UIntern.
  1. Rolled with our momentum
With this and other partnerships as motivation we refused to let ourselves slack. Our accountability to each other and to others, in addition to our passion for the UIntern mission, ensured we stayed committed.
  1. Learned a TON
Through organizing 3 info sessions, 4 student workshops, 16 internships, 1 kickoff celebration, 5 lunch & learn events, and an end of summer banquet we were able to gain insight and experience far beyond our initial dreams. By creating UIntern we created opportunities – for students, for organizations, and for ourselves.
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