Lisa is a current Service to the Armed Forces Intern with the American Red Cross in Southwestern Pennsylvania.
She is a junior at the University of Pittsburgh.
College students today are under a lot of pressure to gain experience in their field of study. Psychology majors are expected to work in research labs and hold internships with hospitals. History majors on the other hand need to find internships with perhaps the local museums. All students are expected to get their foot in the door with the local businesses seemingly the minute they begin their college careers due to the competitive nature of society outside of the college campus. So how would a college student benefit from an internship with the American Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces (SAF)?
First, we need to understand exactly what the SAF department does. SAF offers support to servicemen and servicewomen and their families. This consists of a number of community outreach programs and events for local military families. Additionally, what I believe is the largest part of working with SAF, is its role of being a communication outlet for these families during times of personal emergency.
Put yourself in the shoes of a mother whose son is serving in the Army overseas. What would you do if your husband has suffered a heart attack and you need to get word to your son? That is when the American Red Cross SAF steps in and has the ability to confirm and relay all necessary information to the service member overseas. The largest part of my job as an SAF Intern has been reaching out to military families who have been in need of communication assistance due to the death of a family member. So how does a college student benefit from this Internship?
Originally I was drawn to this Service to the Armed Forces internship because my grandfather and many of my family members on my father’s side have served in the military. The application process was very straight forward and I very thankfully landed the job! With my first internship secured, I was focused on making this experience a resume builder as well as a networking opportunity. Little did I realize it would become so much more.
Whether you are a Psychology major or a Spanish major, you can benefit from this internship. I am an anthropology major with an accompanying history minor but currently toying with the possibility of a double major. While the SAF internship does not directly line up with a typical Anthropology/History path, I truly believe the experience will give me, and any other college student, an advantage when it comes to applying to future jobs and more importantly being successful in those jobs. One key component to every job is excellent communication skills. This SAF internship forces you to better your communication abilities in a unique, almost intimidating way because you will need to talk to people about upsetting situations. No one wants to ask questions about a situation involving the death of a loved one but this is a sad reality. However, you will quickly learn how to handle these circumstances and how to balance a professional persona with a friendly, comforting tone. This can carry over into any job: nearly every profession involves interactions and these interactions are expected to be professional, but also somewhat personal. Working with SAF will give you that ability which then transfers across numerous college majors and career paths.
Overall, the SAF Internship is a very practical way to challenge yourself, but in a welcoming environment that consists of a collectivity of people working to assist others. Working with such a well-know charitable company will give anyone a step up when attempting to be noticed by employers. Furthermore, other employers typically assume an Intern with the American Red Cross works with Blood Drives or Disaster Relief. However, I believe an SAF Intern is a position that people are often unaware of and therefore makes the holder of it that much more unique. It doesn’t matter your career path or academic major, working as an SAF Intern can only help you by improving essential skills, by making you a more diverse student, and by molding you into a more competitive applicant in the workforce outside of the college campus.