NOTE: Iliana Panameno is a former Nebraska Appleseed intern who is now a graduate student at the Boston University School of Social Work.
This summer, I had the opportunity to intern for SCAN of Northern Virginia, through my participation in the Institute of Philanthropy and Voluntary Services. I always knew I wanted to work towards bringing social justice to all people, and after having the incredible experience of interning with Nebraska Appleseed for almost a year, it only confirmed my desire to help others even more!
During my eight-week stay in Washington, D.C., I could have never prepared myself for all of the incredible people I would cross paths with, the opportunity of residing only a couple blocks away from the White House, and the useful tools presented to me as I strive to become an effective helping professional.
It is no surprise that while I lived and interned in Washington, D.C., I learned a number of important life lessons, but the three that will always stay close to my heart is to:
1. Take initiative.
If you want something, just ask! Otherwise, no one will know what you want. Be clear of your goals, and take the initiative in asking others for help. As I interned in D.C., I learned quickly that the networking pool is rather small, but there is always someone who is willing to help you reach your goals. All you have to do is ask.
2. Never lose your drive.
Never lose sight of your dreams and aspirations. There was not one professional I didn’t speak to who did not work beyond the 8 to 5 schedule in order to get to where they there today. Hard work pays off. It is essential for us to continually fuel our hopes and desires. Remember who you are and where you come from. Never lose hope. Never lose your drive in becoming the person you want to be.
3. Be kind.
Be kind not because it might get you that promotion you wanted for so long. Be kind because you never know what kind of battle another may be facing. Be kind because it helps you to pay attention to the injustices and needs of this world.
I will never forget my summer living and interning in Washington, D.C. Who else can say they shook hands with Mayor Vincent Gray at a car and dog wash? Or the opportunity to be invited to sit on the floor of the House of Representatives? As I start my second week of graduate school, I will always look back at the memories I made in Washington, and the memories I will continue to make as I work towards breaking the barriers for all groups of people.