Two students with distinctly different backgrounds, fields of study and career goals shared a common experience this summer – one that speaks to the internship opportunities available at the University of Lethbridge.
Courtney Lockhart is a fourth-year political science major who grew up in Lethbridge and sees herself as a future Canadian Foreign Service Officer or human rights activist. Joshua Seerattan is a fourth-year international management major who hails from Edmonton and aspires to work in international trade. This past summer they both took advantage of a 10-week internship program at the Washington Center in Washington, D.C.
"I had an overwhelmingly rewarding summer in D.C.," says Lockhart, who had an internship with Global Centurion, a small, non-profit organization dedicated to fighting modern day slavery and human trafficking.
"I am definitely a more well rounded student after this experience. I gained professional skills that can't be taught in the classroom, and I learned how to transfer my classroom skills to relevant research and a work environment."
Seerattan's internship found him at the U.S. Small Business Administration's (SBA) Office of International Trade. He was tasked to design questions for a trade exam to be administered to SBA counselors. The goal was to improve their knowledge in facilitating the export of U.S. small business goods and services.
"My work was directly related to my major because it was all about international business," says Seerattan. "The course work I did at the U of L gave me a good understanding of what they wanted and I'd already studied almost all of the material I needed to create the exam."
The Washington Center (TWC) was created in 1975 by William and Sheila Burke as an organization that would provide college students from all backgrounds and income levels with an opportunity to take their classroom learning into a professional internship setting. It is currently the largest academic internship program in the world.
Beyond the internship work, students are able to take evening classes and are a part of the TWC International Affairs program. For Lockhart, the experience was invaluable, reaffirming her desire to work in a Canadian embassy setting but also opening her eyes to whole new areas of interest.
"I have now become passionate about human trafficking issues, human rights and specifically women's rights and issues," she says. "I would really love to spend some of my career working directly with these issues as an activist for non-governmental organizations. I also developed some interest in law school."
The University's International Centre for Students (ICS), as well as the Arts & Science Co-Op office, was able to facilitate both Lockhart's and Seerattan's journey after the students expressed an interest in the TWC program. It is one of multiple co-op and internship opportunities available at the U of L.
"My experience in D.C. was something that I could not get anywhere else," says Seerattan. "I'd advise any student to make sure they did an internship somewhere before they graduated. There are so many opportunities available out there and people on campus who will help you make it happen. Don't be lazy, do some research and find an internship that fits you – it's well worth it."
This story first appeared in the September issue of the Legend. To view the Legend in a flipbook format, follow this link.