Timothy Sroka is graduating this quarter with majors in International Relations & Diplomacy and Russian. In the fall he will attend New York University to study International Education, specifically cross culture exchanges and training with an area focus on Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. His internship helped solidify his future career plans. Here is his internship story.
"That was easy." As clichéd and ubiquitous as this Staples catch phrase may appear, it is the best frame with which to capture the process of landing my current two-quarter internship with Ohio State's Office of International Affairs. No, I do not want to imply that my work at OIA is simple or that landing this internship involved little to no effort. However, I want to highlight the fact that by simply asking, one can obtain an experience previously thought to be unattainable. After two summer intensive language programs in Russia, I knew that I wanted to study and one day professionally enter the field of international education. I began the frantic search for graduate programs to apply to and panicked about finding the proper "real-life," hands-on experience to not only assure myself of my ambitions but to also demonstrate to graduate admissions committees that I am devoted to pursue the field academically and professionally.
With my mind running in circles of how to accomplish the latter, the proverbial light bulb appeared above my head around mid-Fall quarter, and I quickly sent an email to my former study abroad program coordinator and rock star intern supervisor, Elizabeth Angerman, to inquire about internship opportunities within OIA. After exchanging emails for several weeks and receiving approval from the Department of International Studies, as well as the directors of Ohio State's Study Abroad and International Students and Scholars teams, Elizabeth and I had successfully proposed OIA's first undergraduate internship for academic credit.
As far as the OIA internship is concerned, my duties do not fall under the typical category of bureaucratic intern drudgery, but rather I have been entrusted with several projects. From revising a study abroad program book for Ohio State's language program in Russia, to analyzing how to best run international student orientation and check-in after the quarter to semester change, my duties have been quite varied. I have learned a plethora of important phrases and processes pertinent to the work of both teams. Whether it be learning about the financial complexities of study abroad programs or adding alphabet soup terms important to international students to my vocabulary, I have learned that international education is field that involves many minute details that students do not necessarily consider.
Not only do I frame my OIA internship in light of Staples' slogan, I also consider it to be one of the most worthwhile experiences of my undergraduate career. Quality is the only word that I can use to properly describe the people I work with, that is, the staffs that I interact with are of such a high caliber and have a great interest in presenting me substantial work as well as explaining the ins-and-outs of their jobs, that I see my internship as something I do for fun rather than to just simply gain experience.
For example, whether it is at a Study Abroad or an International Students and Scholars team meeting, the members of each staff will stop to explain the jargon used to make sure I understand what is going on, and nothing beats the resulting feeling of being included. Again, all this developed from the "easy" and simple question of whether or not an internship was possible. My advice to anyone wanting a similar experience: if it does not already exist, simply ask. You might be surprised at the result."