This semester I interned with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention on their public policy team. I had an incredible experience meeting influentialpeople, gaining invaluable personal and professional skills, and always coming home proud of the work that I was doing. Although moving to Washington DC for a semester was a huge leap of faith, I do not regret it for a second. Until this point, the mysteries of holding a valuable job had been overshadowed by being caught up in the hustle and bustle of college life. I’m glad that I decided to follow my dream of helping others through working with a non-profit organization by joining the team at AFSP. I have never quite experienced working in a setting where my efforts felt so meaningful. Feeling confident that my work was actually making a difference left me diving into the projects and tasks I was given with even more ambition.
The team held true to theirassurance during my interview that this would be a happy and fulfilling place to work. Throughout the semester, I was able to get to know John, Trevor, Nicole, and the other 3 public policy associates, who continued to challenge and inspire me in ways that will benefit me for life. I look up to all of them as some of the most hard-working people I know. Shadowing them throughout my time here solidified my determination to return to DC at some point and hold a job with a non-profit organization.
One of the most rewarding events of the semester was being able to attend AFSP’s Annual Advocacy Forum. Whether you’re interning during a semester when they are hosting one of these events or not, you will most likely spend a considerable amount of time helping them prepare for the upcoming forum. During this event, hundreds of AFSP staff and volunteers from every state come together to lobby the congressmen on issues pertinent to suicide/mental health.I was able to play a big part in updating documents to be distributed at the forum and communicating with forum attendees prior to their arrival. I got the chance to meet people that are very passionate about this cause for various reasons and work very hard to inspire change. This was also a great networking opportunity for me. I was able to meet a few people that allowed me to interview them for a policy paper I had to write.
Each day brought new and exciting work to do. I really enjoyed my frequent visits to the Hill to attend congressional hearings. There were also numerous briefings and meetings that served as nice interruptions from being in the office. After writing summaries about the events, it was neat to be able to find my actual work published on the AFSP website.
Overall, I can definitely pinpoint this experience as the highlight of my college career. For others hoping to do something out of the ordinary during their time in school, I would encourage looking into a program that could offer you this opportunity. If you believe in the mission to end suicide and are looking to take proactive steps to aid such a powerful movement, I would suggest beginning your journey into the non-profit sector with AFSP.The skillsand knowledge you will gain will be sure to distinguish you for whatever steps you decide to take afterwards. For me, no matter where I end up, I will always be thankful for the opportunity I had to intern at AFSP and the passion that it ignited in me regarding suicide and mental health. As a public health major, I hope to continue spreading the message about this initiative both at the Ohio State University and beyond. Ilook forward to following the success of this movement for years to come.