Story Written By Guest Blogger: Maddy Shupe ’19
There is only so much to be learned in a classroom. Throughout my Hope experience the most fulfilling and guiding moments have been outside of the classroom and in internships within my area of interest.
In the spring of 2018, I participated in the Washington Honors Semester through the Hope College Political Science Department. The program prepares students for careers within and outside of political science through classes, interviews with Hope grads in the D.C. area, and an internship of the students’ choosing. With an interest in law and human rights, I was blessed to intern with International Justice Mission (IJM). IJM is the largest anti-slavery organization in the world. I got to work and learn alongside people who are passionately making a difference in the world, while supporting them everyday and hearing their stories.
The most beneficial part of this experience was not the work I did daily–it was the people I did it with. My specific role within IJM was nowhere near where I could see myself working in the next 5-10 years. I almost didn’t take the position because I knew that there were other options within and outside of IJM that would be more narrowly tailored to my skills and goals. But I am so glad that I said yes. The key thing I’ve learned about internships and entry level positions is that my specific job title and tasks are insignificant compared to who I am working for and who I am working with.
My internship with IJM allowed me to grab coffee and chat with people that I want to be like in 5-10 years. I was mentored and given advice as to next steps now and after graduation. In large group interviews (similar to the ones I sat in with my Hope College peers) I got to learn about the different roles and positions that make up a large international non-profit. I learned that even though my heart is pulled toward non-profit work, I should go into corporate or government first to get well trained and gain more experience. I learned that I can have a career in law and have a family, and a social life! I learned that I can wake up and be excited to go to work as long as I enjoy the people I work with and who I am working for (i.e. firm matters, position doesn’t).
Since working at IJM, I have started an internship at a firm in Zeeland, as well as shadowed a District Court Judge in Kalamazoo through the DiscoverWork Program. Both experiences have cemented my view–in very different ways–that people matter when it comes to career discernment. The most fruitful times have been when my supervisor and I are chatting while shredding paper, or sitting in Judge Hemingway’s office talking about how she prepares to sit on the bench. I have been blessed with so many mentors that have given me advice and listen to me process next steps, and it is because of them that I am where I stand today:
Still unsure of what’s next, but well guided.