This is the next in a series of posts by recipients of the 2018 Career Services Summer Funding Grant. We’ve asked funding recipients to reflect on their summer experiences and talk about the industries in which they’ve been spending their summer. You can read the entire series here.
This entry is by Sabrina M. Aponte, SP2 ’19
This summer, I was able to be a part of the Philadelphia Mayor’s Internship Program (MIP), a 10-week unpaid internship in which interns commit at least 20 hours a week working in a city government department and 5 hours on Fridays to a group project and networking panels. This experience has been unforgettable. My initial goals for the internship were to learn more about city government managing operations and gain new skills. However, I not only obtained skills and knowledge useful to city government; I also saw myself grow personally and professionally. This part of the internship was truly worthwhile.
At Penn, I was able to develop strong research, writing, and policy analysis skills. The one thing I knew I was lacking was public speaking, which is especially important for someone wanting to work in government. Since high school, I had always been afraid or never felt the need to speak in class. I always listened in order to learn, but I did not see the importance of speaking to my personal, academic, and professional growth. During interviews for summer internships and informational interviews this summer, I found it hard to articulate my thoughts on social and political issues and what I wanted out of an internship. I was rejected by five out of six positions because of this. Through the Mayor’s Internship Program, I was able to practice public speaking as I worked side by side the Parks and Recreation Chief of Staff and Commissioner, as well as on Fridays during networking panels.
Every Friday, city government officials from different departments would come speak to us. This was our chance to learn more about the work they do, ask questions, and network after the panel. Networking was something I knew everyone said was important to do, but that I tended to avoid because speaking to numerous people at one event is intimidating. I would rationalize to myself and say, “Well, as long as my résumé looks great, there’s no need for me to network.” I soon learned from each panelist that networking was pretty much how they got their jobs. When you work hard in your position and meet new people, you can make an impression on them and they will remember you the next time they or someone they know is hiring. Friday panels gave me a chance to network on a smaller scale through individual informational interviews with city officials. At first, it was hard for me to talk about what I wanted to do and learn from the interviewee, but eventually it became easy. I was able to make each interview flow like a conversation, and by the end of the internship, I got offers to work for a couple of officials during my senior year. If it wasn’t for summer funding, I wouldn’t have been able to participate in this program. I wouldn’t have been able to afford traveling to Center City every day nor pay for rent and food. I especially would not have been able to grow professionally and personally like I did nor be offered paid fellowship opportunities with the city government during the school year. Having summer funding is a true blessing and I am more than thankful to have been selected to have it.