Internship Experiences – Autumn Lucas

This summer’s posts feature University of Utah students’ experiences in spring and summer internships.

By Autumn Lucas, Senior (Summer 2023 Grad), Strategic Communication and Economics Major

I transferred to the University of Utah after getting my Associate’s Degree from Salt Lake Community College. I am double majoring in Economics and Strategic Communication. When I started at the University of Utah, I just wanted to get my degree as fast as possible. As a transfer student, it can feel like you’re already running behind your peers and many options are closed to you. You may not think you have the time or resources to do things like a “normal” college student.

From Obstacles to Opportunity

Finding out I needed to complete an internship to complete my Communication degree felt like just another obstacle to getting my degree. When I began looking at internships, I was overwhelmed by the number of options and the perceived lack of resources. I didn’t know where to look to find an opportunity that would be worthwhile. I eventually found support through organizations on campus, like the Crimson Transfer Honor Society, department-specific internship databases, my academic advisor, and the Hinckley Institute of Politics.

Like many students, I initially assumed that the Hinckley Institute of Politics only worked with students in the political science major or who want to go into politics and government. A Hinckley ambassador visited my class and talked about the wonderful opportunities they have for students of all majors. I was particularly excited by their work with public policy nonprofits, as that is the sector I am most interested in working. Through the Hinckley Institute of Politics, I felt like I had a guide through what could have easily been an overwhelming process. My program manager was able to help me through the application process and my preparations to move abroad, and she continues to help me as I have begun working.

Lessons Learned

My best advice, especially if you want to complete an internship abroad or away from where you live, is to look for support wherever you can. This can come through mental and emotional support, as well as financial support. I was scared about the financial burden of taking on an international internship but between my tuition discount, Hinckley International Scholarship, and other funding sources, I was able to afford this life-changing opportunity. There are several scholarships and other opportunities available to you if you look for them. Talking to your advisor, looking on University web pages, and even just web searches can all be great resources to help you find out what you qualify for.

Gaining Experience and Purpose

Just three weeks into my internship, I have already gotten to experience things I couldn’t have imagined when I started at the University of Utah.  During my time here, I am getting to put the skills I learned through my communication degree to work doing social media management, copywriting, and real-time problem-solving. I also have gotten to learn a lot about public policy and non-profit management, which are both areas I am interested in possibly pursuing for a future career. I feel so lucky to have been able to have such an amazing opportunity and get to learn so much!

I already feel like I am making a difference with United Way Australia, and am getting invaluable experience that I’ll be able to take with me in whatever sector I choose to work. I am so grateful that I chose to step outside of my comfort zone and use my internship requirement as an opportunity to have such a life-changing opportunity.