LBJ School of Public Affairs Pre-Grad Intern Ausannette Garcia
A Journey of Discovery
Participating in the Pre-Graduate School internship, Intellectual Entrepreneurship, was one of the best decisions I could have made for myself, and especially my future. As an undergraduate student, it is difficult to know what the realities are of graduate school and what one can expect to have to accomplish as a graduate student. In addition, many undergraduates are still struggling simply to figure out what it is they plan on pursuing for the rest of their lives. As a result of taking part in the Pre-Graduate School internship, I was able to attend discussions, attend a graduate conference, and gain general knowledge about graduate school. The end product of my involvement was a much more informed and confident self. By being able to witness and learn more about graduate school, I have more fully discovered my interests and feel much more prepared to take the next steps toward pursuing my graduate degree.
One portion of my internship would include attending discussion and lecture online concerning topics of interest. I attended several lectures on international relations such as lectures on foreign policy and responsibilities of the next president at the Law School, which while I found extremely interesting and informative, allowed me to realize that national security was not where my interests lay. I also attended lectures for the Robert Strauss Center at the LBJ School and an informational on USAID. I learned about work others had done at non-profits abroad and what kind of work was done specifically within the government for development. This kind of information spoke to me in a very significant way and was a defining point in my quest to discover my focus.
Attending these lectures provided me with a profound amount of insight into the broad field of international relations. As I made my way through the variety of venues concerning international relations I was able to see what it was that sparked my interest most heavily. I was also able to see what types of options there were available to graduate students within these fields, such as fellowships allowing students to conduct their own research. The more I saw, the more I realized how broad this field of study was, and the more I was determined to find my niche.
Another component of my internship was being given the opportunity to attend a graduate conference. I attended a conference on foreign policy sponsored by the University of Denver. The chance to be able to be involved in this event was an amazing experience. The individuals that I met and had the honor of hearing speak at the conference were some of the most impressive and prominent individuals in academia. Being able to hear the research that professionals and students had conducted was extremely interesting and insightful, especially when pertaining to areas such as human security, and other regions of interest, such as Africa and Latin America. While I was intimidated by the fact that myself and another student were the only undergraduate students at the conference, and everyone else there was a professional, or Doctoral or Masters student, I did feel welcome and was pleased to see that they seemed to share a commitment to our understanding and enhancement as students of similar fields of study.
The conference, while it was very helpful and enjoyable, also pointed out a less desirable point of graduate school. The more I delve into the nature of international relations and what that means for graduate school, I realize that this field requires a lot of research. I don't feel that my resistance to conducting research is an attempt to relieve myself of serious work, but rather an interest in work that allows me to take a more physical and interactive role in my work. I feel I would be most useful and find more joy in being on the field and I don't know that graduate school will necessarily prepare me for that life by requiring me to conduct research instead of getting real experience. While this has not completely discounted my interest in graduate school, because it hasn't, it has made me think a little more about the commitment I would be making by attending graduate school.
Finally, by doing the internship I was able to learn more about graduate school in general. Before I didn't realize the type of workload that graduate school entailed, and while it truly frightens me, I gain confidence in the fact that so many individuals are able to complete their graduate degrees. I feel confident in my own ability to pursue a graduate degree, but it certainly helps to have an idea beforehand what I will be responsible for as a graduate student.
I have also realized the necessity of earning a graduate degree, especially for what I am interested in pursuing. While a Bachelors degree is helpful, a graduate degree seems to be necessary as time goes on and as I said for future goals of working in international relations. Even if I am unsure as to whether I'd like to commit to a life of research in order to obtain that degree, I realize that once I have earned that degree I will be able to do the kind of work that I would like to do.
Finally, I attended a GRE Prep course at the LBJ School, which was a great help. I was extremely fearful of what the GRE entailed and what my prospects were for being successful and now I feel very confident that I will be able to do well and gain admission to the schools that I am interested in. I learned that graduate schools consider admissions by looking at every aspect and component of an applicant's ability whether it be their undergraduate GPA, their GRE scores, their work experience, etc. Therefore, along with feeling positive about doing well on the GRE, I am so optimistic about my ability to gain admittance into a school of my choice.
I began the internship with a vague idea of what my interests were and what role graduate school would play in developing those interests. However, it was the combination of many things, including my work-study job at a non-profit organization, my volunteer work assisting teaching ESL classes, and classes that I'd taken on human rights and international relations, and then finally my internship, that made clear for me what my focus would be. I realized that I was passionate about international development. I knew I wanted to help people, that I wanted to work abroad, and that I was interested in developing nations. It all suddenly made sense and I couldn't be more excited.
Since realizing my calling, I have read many articles on the topic and searched job opportunities within international development. I have researched which graduate schools have exceptional programs for international development and so on. The next few years that I spend before attending graduate school will be time spent in order to prepare myself for graduate school. I will be teaching English in Japan and hopefully becoming fluent in another language, and then hopefully participating in the Peace Corps, which will be a perfect way of experiencing international development first hand.
I am very happy that I made the decision to do the Pre-Graduate internship my final semester at UT. I was able to realize my true calling and take part in activities that I may not have otherwise had the opportunity to. While all of the components of my internship combined were helpful, it was also simply the fact that I felt that being a part of the internship sent me on a mission. Even if I had entered the internship with no clue as to what I wanted to do, having simply signed up gives on the sense of opportunity and freedom to explore their interests. I had a great experience and am extremely excited for my future.