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Top 5 Reasons to be a Women's Center Intern

Story reprinted from Iris Magazine
Written by Carly Gorelick

Are you a passionate person of any gender (yes, we encourage everyone to apply!) who is seeking an internship, a community, and is particularly interested in social issues? If your answer is “hell yes, this already sounds like me!” then I strongly encourage you to keep reading.

The Maxine Platzer Lynn Women’s Center internship is a year-long program that engages its participants in the world of social justice advocacy. Interns are given the opportunity to develop themselves and their communities by participating in a class in the fall while working for one of the following programs:

Body Positive/Eating Disorders Education
Iris Magazine (website)
Legal Clinic
Social Media Marketing Team
Men’s Leadership Project
Gender Violence and Social Change
Women, Girls and Global Justice
Young Women Leaders Program

There are many reasons to become an intern at the Women’s Center but here are some of the most important:

1. For Charlottesville

Sometimes it can be difficult to escape the UVA Bubble that encircles student life. Due to this bubble, many of us often neglect the ongoings of the greater Charlottesville community. Did you know that 27.5% of the Charlottesville community lives below the poverty level? In contrast to the opportunities we encounter at UVA, it’s a hard realization that the people who live right alongside us are struggling in ways we too rarely recognize.

The Women’s Center has thusly partnered with Hope House, a Family Stabilization Program located in Charlottesville that works to accommodate low-income families by providing them with housing and resources to rebuild their livelihoods.

Gender Violence & Social Change interns tabling for Domestic Violence Awareness Month Gender Violence & Social Change interns tabling for Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Hope House is just one example of the many ways that the Women’s Center offers students the opportunity to give back to the community that constantly provides for us. Other initiatives include The Men’s Leadership Project and the Young Women Leaders Program, which provide undergraduate students the opportunity to mentor Charlottesville middle-schoolers, as well as our Legal Clinic that provides professional, pro-bono legal advice to Charlottesville residents.

2. For Dear Old UVA

While we should continually strive to look beyond the UVA bubble, it is still important that we stay engaged and service our fellow students. Being an intern means working for and supporting a University office that was created as a welcoming center for people of all backgrounds at UVA. Last year, the Women’s Center celebrated their 25th anniversary and has consistently offered opportunities and services for the University community, including several different types of free counseling. Each of the internship programs works to service our students, whether that be as an Iris intern writing for a student audience or with the Gender Violence and Social Change program bringing awareness of gender-based violence to Grounds.

3. For the class

Part of the fun of being an intern is taking the 3-credit class, “Front Lines of Social Change” that is required in the fall. Firstly, this class gives you the opportunity to connect with all of the incoming interns, not just those that are in your specific program. Having the opportunity to interact with other interns places your individual program within the greater scope of the Women’s Center’s broader goals. You become a part of a layered community, offering multiple homes.

Our Body Positive team leading discussions at their annual, "Mother Daughter Brunch." Our Body Positive team leading discussions at their annual, "Mother Daughter Brunch."

Aside from helping foster relationships with other programs, this class, taught by the wonderfully kind, caring, and funny Jaronda Miller-Bryant, covers invaluable information while giving you the opportunity to self-select areas that you find particularly interesting and can study further. This past semester, we covered topics that ranged from poverty in Charlottesville, to human trafficking, to environmental justice, while I selected to engage more in depth with race relations in large student organizations at UVA.

You’ll enjoy taking this class because it helps you develop into an agent for change. Class projects challenge you to brainstorm and develop ideas with a group. Instead of driving within the boundaries of the theoretical, you’ll feel comfortable actually applying yourself to real ideas and projects, developing your competency in social activism.

4. For the friends

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention how significant this internship becomes for fostering friendships. Between attending class and working on projects, you will be surrounded by people who are similarly passionate and kind. I’ve found incredible friends during my internship with people both in and out of my program. Each program meets weekly, allowing you to build and maintain relationships with fellow interns. I feel excited every week to hang with my fellow interns and Program Mentor for even the most administrative meetings.

Being surrounded by other interns is a constantly inspirational experience. I love being able to come to class or even open Facebook and realize the amazing projects other interns are involved in. Along the same vein, I can always expect other interns to be supportive of my personal endeavors, but especially those of my program, Iris. In this way, the Women’s Center internship program can give you the opportunity to build lasting friendships with wonderful and caring people that are not just invested in their own programs, but also in you.

5. For YOU

Setting aside all of the ways that being an intern allows you to help your communities, the Women’s Center internship program also provides copious opportunities to better yourself. Upon our initiation in the fall, the Women’s Center faculty reiterated how this internship largely emphasized our personal well-being. We discussed what it meant to adopt self-care routines, which were often reiterated by Jaronda and other faculty. It is an extremely wonderful feeling to know that those who oversee your internship are genuinely interested in supporting your personal growth and health.

Iris intern team and Program Director at their pop-up gallery, "Every Body Has a Story" Iris intern team and Program Mentor at their pop-up gallery, "Every Body Has a Story"

Though I still have another semester in the program, I have already learned so much from my experiences. I have become a better listener, more in-tune with the diverse experiences of other students, but also more optimistic about being an agent for change. This internship has offered a venue to develop ideas and discover subject areas for which I want to apply myself, honing my ability to seek practical solutions and develop my opinions. Additionally, I’ve been lucky enough to find a set of wonderful role models amongst our supervisors and within my peers who have challenged me to be a better person while demonstrating the realities of being so passionately engaged. This internship has undeniably developed my passions and has served as a wonderful base for achieving my future goals.

If these 5 reasons sound compelling at all, I urge you to come out to our info session on Tuesday, February 16 at 7pm in Clark 107. Already sold? Apply now!

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