A case for giving a [summer]

City Year alum Rebekah Wilson ’14, talks about the benefits of interning with City Year, an AmeriCorps program that employs young people in a year (or two) of full-time service in public schools. City Year New York currently offers a variety of summer internship opportunities for students in programs, operations, development, and recruitment.

(Note: summer internships offered by City Year New York differ from corps member positions, which require a full-time, ten month commitment, ideal for gap year students or recent college graduates. Summer internships are part-time, office based positions, ideal for undergraduate students. Though internships with City Year are unpaid, students are encouraged to apply for funding through EIA in the spring.)

I first found out about City Year in the fall of my senior year of high school, while researching gap year options online. It’s been five years since then and I have a hard time conceptualizing exactly what prompted me to apply in the first place, but I remember looking at the application with an overwhelming desire to do something big. Yes, something good. Yes, something interesting and challenging and altruistic that would look attractive on my resume and hopefully broaden my college prospects. But mostly I was attracted to the idea of something larger than me that would sweep me up out of the small alcove of the world I had grown up in and land me on a different a shore, a shore that would involve an understanding of social justice issues on the ground level and a sense of what could be done about them. Perhaps one of the biggest indications that I did indeed take part in something big is that, two years after graduating from City Year, I am still processing all the ways I grew and lessons I learned.

Last week, I wrote an expanded version of this post for the Senior Program blog about my experience as a two-year corps member with City Year Seattle/King County before coming to Middlebury. Most of what I shared was specific to my corps member experience; an internship would provide a totally different experience (interns, for example, are office based and do not serve in schools, as I did). At the very least, however, I hope to spark student interest in national service and encourage Middlebury students to consider City Year and AmeriCorps as part of their lifelong educational and career paths.

I was especially excited to learn that City Year New York offers summer internships because I often think about what my experience would have been like if I had completed an internship with a City Year site before applying to the corps. As a corps member, I was so caught up in my daily service – working full-time in a public middle school – that it was hard to have a sense of how the organization functioned on a site and national level. If you are looking ahead to your post-grad plans and considering City Year or AmeriCorps, I would strongly encourage you to pursue this internship opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of the challenges and rewards involved in serving with organizations like these.

City Year’s motto is “Give a year, change the world.” I would extend this appeal to anyone my age, beyond the context of City Year or any specific organization. I would genuinely encourage you to consider devoting yourself to a national service experience – whether that means a year or a summer – with the understanding that the good you do in that time (and beyond) will be two-fold, beneficial for you and those you serve. There are so, so many ways to serve others and begin, as we said in City Year, “putting [your] idealism to work.”

To learn more about interning with City Year New York, see internship listings on MOJO or click here.

To learn more about City Year, click here. View a short documentary about City Year Seattle/King County by award-winning Seattle youth media arts organization, Reel Grrls, here.

Still have questions? Want to know more? Email Rebekah at rjwilson@middlebury.edu.