The following post was written by Global Exchange intern Andy, pictured in the photo on left, tabling at a Global Exchange event.
About 14 weeks ago I first set foot in the Global Exchange offices at 16th and Mission. I was four days removed from my undergrad career at UC Santa Cruz and had no idea what I wanted to do with my future. My shiny new sociology degree had yet to lead me to any kind of paid employment. Friends of mine who also graduated with social science degrees gave me warning of the difficulties that awaited me in the post-undergrad world.
When Global Exchange offered me a spot in their summer internship program several weeks prior to my graduation, I jumped at the opportunity. Getting experience related to my field of study immediately after college was, in and of itself, too desirable to pass up. The fact that I could intern for an organization whose mission was to manifest the very ideals that I had embraced without pause for the last four years was the cherry on top.
But I didn’t know what exactly Global Exchange did. Some brief Google reconnaissance revealed that they operate several fair trade stores, facilitate trips around the globe called Reality tours, and run a series of campaigns dedicated to a wide variety of issues. And they build people-to-people ties. Lots of people to people ties. Needless to say, this didn’t help me to figure out precisely what my role in the organization would be.
A Project is Born
My first project as a Global Exchange intern was to work with fellow interns to create a Global Exchange intern alumni network we ended up naming Generation for Justice Network.
The goal of Generation for Justice Network is to enable Global Exchange interns past, present and future to stay in touch with the organization and continue to support Global Exchange’s work after their departure.
The first step in this process was to track down all of the GX interns of the past so that we may invite them to re-connect with us through this alumni network, which we’ve called the Generation for Justice.
This research took weeks, even despite my deft Google recon skills. I quickly learned that Global Exchange has had hundreds of interns dating back to its inception in 1988. For frame of reference, I was born in 1990. Not only did GX intern alums vary across, literally, generations, the breadth of professional fields, locations, backgrounds, and life paths was astounding.
While Global Exchange regards its internship program in great esteem, it is easy to overlook the long term and wide-ranging impact its interns have gone on to make in the world. My research showed that many of GX’s former interns carried that GX passion, dedication, and integrity into a wide range of fields.
Today I am among the last remaining summer interns here. I’ve just begun the process of updating my resume, in hopes of moving on to a paid job. Most likely I’ll simply be moving on to an internship somewhere else. I still have no clear idea as to what I want to do with my future. My B.A. in sociology is scarcely more valuable than it was twelve weeks ago. The only thing certain about my immediate future is that I won’t be moving out of my mom’s house any time soon.
Despite the uncertainty of my future, I derive hope from the many Global Exchange interns who came before me. They, like myself, were drawn to Global Exchange because of their passion for human rights and their drive to transition from bright-eyed, idealistic undergrads to active, difference-making professionals. I’m sure many left, as I am about to, having learned far too much to fit onto one resume. And I know from my research that for most interns, Global Exchange was an early stepping-stone that helped to carry many to tremendous success in countless fields.
If the overwhelming success of our past interns is any indication, we look forward to staying in touch with future Global Exchange interns as they successfully navigate their way through their fulfilling post-Global Exchange careers. Bonded by a common experience and passion, Global Exchange interns past and present will be able to continue to support the organization and remain a part of GX’s broader community even after they’ve moved on to other stages of their lives and careers.
The Generation for Justice Network is now ready to launch. We will soon begin the process of reaching out to our past interns in hopes of re-incorporating them into our community.
If you or someone you know is a past intern, have them: