By Kelly Finn
Coming out of my 2017 marketing internship with UConn Extension, I possessed a newfound quality of discipline and relationship-building that I had honed over the three month experience with Stacey Stearns. Almost two years later, I have been able to employ such skills in my current experience as a Boren Scholar in which I am a student, professional, and volunteer.
Last April, I was nationally selected as one of 250 from a pool of over 1500 applicants to receive the US Government Boren Scholarship: a fellowship that enables qualified students to engage in intensive study-abroad. I am now nearing the end of my year long experience with the Boren, having gotten the opportunity to do a domestic summer program at the University of Florida before going abroad, and of course my nine-month experience abroad in Senegal, which will be coming to end an end this May.
The Boren has been heavily academic, including critical study of international relations, advanced language in both French and Wolof (a native West African language), amplified by my own personal choice to enroll in online American classes to keep up with credit requirements in completing my triple-degree venture in receiving Finance, Resource Economics, and French Honors degrees at the end of my UConn experience. While it has not been easy, I’ve found that my discipline in being goal-oriented and determined has encouraged me to get my work done efficiently while embracing new learning content, just as I had as an Extension intern.
On top of academics, I have further challenged myself to upkeep my professional development in maintaining contact with my career aspirations and experience by leveraging my relationship-building skills in internship pursuits.
I knew at the start of my Boren that I wanted to get involved in a professional capacity in addition to my studies during the program. After countless hours of research in organizations and opportunities in Senegal, I made sure to leverage networking platforms and use relationship-building skills to secure an internship. Not only was I accepted for a professional internship at the headquarters of the Central Bank of West African States in Dakar, but I also became a volunteer intern at the Senegalese office of an American organization that I had been involved with as a high school student in the States.
Thinking back to my days as an Extension intern, I remember how important taking initiative and applying relationship-building skills were. At Extension, all of the projects necessitated cross-departmental communication, and strength in relationship-building to move ideas forward and make tangible progress. Those same skills have evidently assisted me in the process of finding awesome, relevant involvements internationally that has ultimately enriched my Boren experience in Senegal.
Going forward, I will continue to apply what I’ve learned as an UConn Extension intern to my everyday life in academic and professional areas and beyond as I have as a Boren scholar. Extension equipped me with the tools and incredible support by the staff and CAHNR to work effectively to make change while also cultivating a learning environment I clearly profited from. The discipline and relationship-building skills I had gained in the process continue to be put to great use in all the new and challenging experiences I encounter as I continue to grow.