Finding my “Why” | CIS Abroad Virtual Intern Blog

Growing up I never knew what my future held. As a kid I loved animals and dreamed of helping wildlife, but I didn’t see that as a sign to start making that into a career. Going into middle school I still had no sense of academic direction. I did not know that taking specific classes would benefit my future. I just let time slip by me, letting others pick my classes because I did not know any better.

This continued throughout my high school career as I blindly followed with no actual clear path. I did notice the classes I absolutely loved were my environmental biology classes. I still did not see that as a sign. I went to college for a degree in psychology because it seemed clear-cut. And while it was a fascinating subject for me, it did not sit right with me as a career. I repeated this mistake with other subjects that weren’t fulfilling.

Having a fulfilling career is important to me, so I took a hiatus from school and became an afterschool tutor. It took me years before I had THE epiphany. I forever remember the day I was watching Born to be Wild for the 50th time while eating my weight in ice cream feeling thankful for people who serve wildlife. I googled, “What does it take to work with wildlife?” I was blown away and embarrassed that I hadn’t realized what I had been looking for all along was a career in wildlife conservation. I looked back on my past and thought, “If only I knew.” I couldn’t go back in time, but I realized it wasn’t too late to fulfill my passions.

Discovering my WHY

I dove back into college with intense motivation, and I knew where I was going for the first time in my life. I discovered CIS abroad and I took on an internship in conservation. CIS abroad gave me so much and has opened many doors, not only because of having experience under my belt, but because it opened my eyes to who I am professionally. I was guided in a way that allowed me to see why I chose this career on an exceptionally deep level. CIS abroad showed me how to gain confidence in myself. Those two lessons alone used together will take me anywhere I want to go in life. This was only the beginning as they prepared me for the internship program that I was placed in.

Contributing to Conservation Science

When it came to the actual internship program, I gained skills as well as fine-tuned already existing ones. I harnessed skills of communication, data collection, cross-cultural collaboration, and time-management. I learned I was resourceful as well as adaptable, and the most important goals I had set for myself I completed, and it is thanks to them. It was an amazing opportunity to have CIS abroad guide me in such a way that allowed me to create as well as observe these parts of me as they came to fruition.

I learned how important it is to recognize these qualities as they provide insight on who I am professionally. I was able to take my first steps and I made my first actual contributions to conservation science, which is amazing as well as a huge deal to me. Not only that, but I did it while working across cultures which is a major accomplishment. I now I have connections on the other side of the world. I learned so much through this program that I will carry with me forever.

Employers are always looking for people who are dedicated and know what they want in a career. sI hope they’re impressed when I tell them about my experience. I’m certainly impressed with myself, and I’ll do this again someday!

Want to discover your “why” through meaningful work? Browse our virtual internships by career field to find your best fit!


Learn how our programs offer students an experience they love - and learn from.