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Internship helps BW student boost career skills, confidence

When it came time for an internship, Kerrigan Ponsart '23 wanted more than a 9-to-5 experience. She wanted a full immersion - the find a new city, live frugally and meet challenges head-on type of opportunity that would look good on her resume and push her comfort zone.

photo of Kerrigan Ponsart in Washington, D.C.She found it through The Washington Center, a national program offered through BW's Center for Global Exploration that connects college students to prestigious internships with top companies, international organizations, nonprofit agencies and government offices.

A Humanitarian Heart

"I plan on going into foreign diplomacy or international humanitarian aid work," explained Ponsart, a political science and international studies double major from Cleveland. "I wanted an internship that allows me to gain professional experience in my field as well as transferable skills I could use in any job.

"I am working for Magis Americas, a nonprofit that partners with organizations, mostly in Latin America, on projects that address education, immigration and ecology issues. As a development intern, I work on stock writing and grant proposals, donor records and monitoring socio-political situations in the countries where we offer programs," she noted.

"This internship allows me to explore the nonprofit side of things on an international scale," said Ponsart. "Service has been a huge part of my life since high school. In BW's Brain Center for Community Engagement, I have volunteered with the AdvantageCLE and Seeds of Literacy weekly programs, as well as being on the leadership team for Jackets Engaged and the student director of Swipe Out Hunger.

"I recently traveled to Chicago for an alternative break working with children in the foster care system that suffered from trauma. All of these experiences were really impactful and allowed me to see the importance of nonprofits in helping communities," she added.

Pushing Her Potential

For Ponsart, her internship goes beyond career preparation. She is enjoying newfound independence and the challenges that go with it.

"Participating in this program is the culmination of years of wanderlust and zeal for culture, food, language and people other than my own. I have lived in Cleveland my entire life, even while studying at BW. I am never far from a safety net. My independence is paramount to me, but it has never truly been tested," admitted Ponsart.

"This is the first real time I spent a sustained period of time away from home. Some things are hard (I mean, who knew that groceries were so expensive?), but I love every minute of figuring things out. This is my first step. But it won't be my last," she emphasized.

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