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Kirsten Slora ’17
Where did you intern and what were your responsibilities as an intern?
I interned for Chicago Area Runners Association (CARA) (located one block from Ogilvie), specifically the Road Scholars Program. The mission statement is as follows: “CARA Road Scholars builds confidence and self-esteem, for at-risk Chicago area high school students, through a mentorship-based running program that achieves positive impact in education and life.” As a psychology intern, my main project for the semester was to construct a survey to establish program metrics. As Road Scholars is a relatively new program, there was no hard data available for how the program has affected the students and the mentors. We teamed up with Kellogg Graduate School of Business at Northwestern, and worked toward establishing a survey that would allow for CARA to have numbers that showed how effective their program was.
What was the most rewarding part of your internship?
The most rewarding part of my internship, was, hands down, the fact that I knew the work I was doing was going to the betterment of the community. CARA is a very small staff, so I knew I was directly helping the office, as well as the community at large. At a personal level, I was extremely satisfied with how I was able to give back to the running community, as the running community has done so much for me.
What did you learn about yourself during your internship?
I learned more about myself from this internship than I could have even imagined. I learned how important it is for me to stay organized. Had I not stayed organized during the entire process, it would have been really difficult to transition the newer interns into my role. From a more sentimental lens, I learned how important it is to have a passion for what you do. As an unpaid intern, it can be pretty difficult to rationalize why you are dedicating so many hours. However, knowing where your heart is makes the job a whole lot easier. It just reinforced my belief that it’s always better to do what you love, instead of what makes the most money.
What role has your internship played in shaping your career path?
This internship really opened my eyes to all the different routes I can take with my choices of study. Before having this internship, I was somewhat under the impression that having a psychology degree meant I needed to go through years of schooling to do anything with it. This internship proved that the skills obtained from a psychology degree at the undergrad level are extremely valued in a nonprofit organization. My knowledge of research methods and statistics had a tremendous impact on this internship. It inspired me to look beyond the traditional psychology route, and keep my mind open to any career that values data skills and commitment to community health.
Do you have any advice for students completing internships in your field?
Follow your heart! Tell your advisor what specific parts of psychology you have a passion for, and you will find something related. Let your passion for that carry you through the internship, and the rest will come so easy.
What did your site supervisor think of the experience?
Chicago Area Runners Association Executive Director Edward Zylka shared the following about Kirsten’s internship: “Kirsten was given stretch goals and had to work to recruit Chicago Public School students into the program, was an effective peer with CARA staff, and worked as part of a team with Northwestern University Kellogg Business School. She worked well both independently and with direction from staff. Kirsten always brought a smile and energy to the office, along with her passion for the program.”