Elysse Delia AlvaradoLBJ (Global Studies) Pre Grad intern Elysse Delia Alvarado

IE Pre-Graduate School Internship
Spring 2015

The IE Pre- Graduate School Internship was an opportunity I first heard about my sophomore year of college from a friend who was currently serving as an IE Intern. I thought it sounded like an interesting opportunity, but brushed the thought of joining the program away due to my believed lack of ability to attend graduate school (both academically and financially). After my semester abroad and beginning my final semester of college, I began seriously considering the question of graduate school. I had this feeling that I was selling myself short and wasn't considering more worthwhile opportunities so I decided to join IE as a spring intern in the LBJ School with my mentor, Ariel Anib, who is a student in Global Policy Studies.

My decision to find a mentor in the LBJ School and in the Global Policy Studies department was my desire to see what my undergraduate degree in International Relations and Global Studies (IRG) could lead to. While I have learned many things as an IRG major, I have felt that overall I was unprepared and lost in terms of finding a future in this field. Through my experience as an IE Pre-graduate intern, I feel more confident and assured about my careers decisions and graduate school plans.

My mentor, Ariel Anib is the central figure that made this experience worthwhile. Her joy and overall eagerness to help me figure life out was more helpful that I ever expected and I am grateful for the time spent with her. I learned more about myself and what my goals were by meeting with her and asking questions not only about career decisions, but life choices as well. When I began as an intern, the only things I knew "for sure" was that I was interested in working abroad and that I wanted my work to help others. But, through speaking with Ariel about her career path and experience of graduate school I have been able to narrow down my interests and begin to map out more tangible goals that make me excited for the future. IE in combination with my enrollment in my Women's Reproductive Health class has influenced my career goals more than any other previous semester in college. I have realized that my true interests lie in the international women's health sector and the policy that surrounds the diverse array of issues that affect women all over the world.

IE has given me the opportunity to really take the time and ask the question, "What do I want to contribute to the world?" The idea of attending graduate school has always been something that felt unattainable to me due to the fact that I do not know anyone who has attended graduate school or even has ever needed to attend grad school at all. Ariel has taught me that that is not true at all and that it is a possibility and another opportunity for me to work in the field that I want.

The most influential part of this semester has been the opportunity that was given to Ariel and me to go to Washington D.C. through the IE Travel Grant in order to explore graduate schools and meet with individuals working in my field of interest. While in D.C. Ariel and I were able to meet with not only LBJ alumni, but individuals who worked primarily in the nonprofit/policy sector. One example of the organization I was able to visit was AMCHP, the Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs. I chose to visit this organization due to my rising interest in this field and need to understand how policy played a role in the real world. Visiting AMCHP was my favorite part of this experience. The Programs Manager explained her work and her career path as well as introduced me to the entire office. I was able to talk to a few other women about their role in the organization and how they ended up to where they were today. All of the individuals I talked to possessed graduate degrees in either policy studies or public health. One of the main questions I had prior to IE and during the internship was about when is the best time to attend graduate school. By being able to talk to individuals at an organization I admired, I learned that there is no real correct answer to that question and that it really depends on what you want to do. Most of the women I spoke to at AMCHP worked for years before they began graduate school in order to make sure they knew exactly what they wanted out of the experience. By the end of my time in D.C., I knew that attending graduate school in the future is one hundred percent the decision for me and that I wanted to begin the search for work in the Public Health sector.

Overall, the IE Pre-Graduate School Program has been an invaluable experience and one of the most influential parts of my college career. It is so easy to get lost in the shuffle at a university as big as UT Austin and feel as if you are simply another cog in the wheel, but my experience as an IE intern has been completely different. My mentor has been a great partner for me during my last semester of college and has challenged me to do more than what I ever thought I could do. I have also been able to focus on my interests and exploring what I want to do with my career instead of just meeting a degree requirement. Due to my time in the IE program, I can start my post graduate life as a more confident, goal oriented individual in pursuit of life-long learning.