How I Scored My First Paid Internship as a College Freshman

It’s a sunny Wednesday morning, and I’m sitting in Peet’s wondering how I got here. I would be lying if I promoted excellence without struggle. While that is true for some folks, and it isn’t any less valid, it is not my story. It may get redundant to see me writing about my struggle time and time again, but please understand it would be doing my story injustice to not mention my challenges. With that being said, I managed to get a paid internship as a freshman in college. I apply to things with no expectations. I don’t look forward to hearing back from scholarships, jobs, and internships. In the most pessimistic way of thinking, I always believed there would be someone out there who is much better, much more qualified, much more capable than I am. 

I applied for this position in the most sincere way. I will admit my partnership with Students Rising Above and its partnership with the California Public Utilities Commission got me through the door. When I think about this, I wonder if anything was really me, did I really earn this or did Students Rising Above attain this for me? The organization made some edits to my resume and helped get me through the door. But did the California Public Utilities Commission give me the position because of this partnership? However, I think back to my Students Rising Above (SRA) interview and realize that they chose me because of my traumas; every single thing I have applied to has chosen me because of my past traumas and masked it with, “We admire your resilience.” In their defence and to anyone hiring anybody, obstacles do tend to shape the characteristics of individuals, but I think it is important to realize that sometimes, it doesn’t. 

Sometimes obstacles can actually break people, and many times I felt as if they had broken me. But I’m not broken and I’m “excelling,” and that is what typically makes people worthy of these things and positions, right? Deep down knowing they chose me because of the atrocities I have faced, I can admit that I admire my resilience and in the strangest way, it is my own admiration of myself that got me both partnerships. 

SRA might have helped get me through the door as it did for three other students, but it was my admiration for myself that got me the position. I walked through those doors with my chin raised high because even if the CPUC has not realized my capability in that moment, I was still confident. Out of all four SRA students who interviewed, I was the only one to get the position, and I’m saying this not to boast, but to encourage others. I encourage you, reader, whomever you are to love and admire yourself for who you are. Be yourself in the most unapologetic way, be your biggest fan because even if all else falls apart, you still have you.

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Yendy Rebollo

Yendy Rebollo

Yendy Rebollo is an independent, low-income, first-generation, undocumented or rather DACA-mented, woman of color navigating higher education at the University of California Berkeley. She has been an independent student since her senior year of high school, when she ran away from her abusive parents. It is in that same year, Yendy became a published writer with Yendy is currently double majoring in Ethnic Studies and Comparative Literature with a Minor in Education. She strives to attend law school as soon as she is finished with her Bachelor’s degree.

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