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Interning in Florida

In movies we see interns depicted as professionals in two things: coffee runs and office supplies. In real life, this stereotype couldn’t be further from the truth. A portion of your Liberal Studies requirements at DePaul are fulfilled by the Experiential Learning (EL) credit. Your Experiential Learning can be completed virtually anywhere, as long as the company or non-profit organization is able to house you in a position that will fulfill DePaul’s requirements. If you plan to be an education major, your EL will be fulfilled by your classroom observations, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find time to pursue other passions during your time at DePaul!

In November I was fortunate enough to take my finals early and spend 10 days in Orlando, Florida interning with IAAPA​ (the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions). Serving alongside 30 other college students and recent grads, as an Ambassador I had the chance to learn about the ‘Serious Business of Fun’ through the eyes of industry professionals. With the Expo including education sessions, FEC & HR seminars, on site facility tours, events, a trade show floor spanning nine miles of aisles, and 32,000 people there was little down time during - but it was all worth it! Working with the Ambassador team made my decision concrete that the attractions industry is where I see myself working in some capacity for the rest of my life.

Even taking into consideration the networking opportunities and free Dippin Dots the Expo provided, my favorite part of the week was our first night spent volunteering at Give Kids the World​. GKTW is a nonprofit resort in Kissimmee, Florida that houses children with life threatening illnesses and their families for a cost free week long vacation. During this week families experience not only the rides and events on property, but also receive tickets to central Florida's most well know parks - Disney World, Universal Studios, and Sea World. Since opening in 1989, Give Kids the World has granted over 140,000 wishes. While at the Village myself and the Ambassador team had the opportunity to prep materials for a charity golf tournament and decorate two villas with holiday decorations. We were all moved by the caring spirit that everyone at GKTW has for children and their families.

Spending my first night in Florida volunteering for such a wonderful organization grounded me in knowing that no matter where I go or what I do in life I will always carry the Vincentian values that I learned at DePaul with me. If there’s one thing I learned from interning with IAAPA it’s that you have to push yourself outside of your comfort zone and you can’t just sit in what’s comfortable. DePaul will help give you the tools to succeed, but after that you just have to trust yourself and jump in! No matter your major, the life changing internship is out there!

 
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