After my first year of college, I was left in the dust at the start of the pandemic. I felt lost about what I wanted to do with my future but was hungry for experience and productive work. Thankfully, I continued to receive emails from my school’s career center and something caught my eye: the Virtual Student Federal Service (VSFS). Intrigued, I clicked on the link and did my own research.

With the opportunity to potentially intern for one of the many federal agencies, I could only choose three projects to apply to. I was skeptical with applying at first because I had no prior internships. However, I took the time to highlight various skills I gained through my other experiences and classes. I connected my skills to how I could contribute to each of the projects. With that, I was offered my first internship position with the Digital Media Engagement (DME) team at the VA.

            As an editing intern, it was daunting at first. Everyone seemed accomplished and professional. How could I fit into this remote work environment? I hoped for the sense of community I heard many of my peers talk about. Thankfully, within the first few weeks, the team of 300+ interns created that community feeling. At DME, the welcoming environment made me feel comfortable to settle in, ask people questions and get excited about learning.

My first piece of advice is to not hesitate to reach out to anyone with questions! As cliché as it sounds, no question is a silly question. Whether it is to your fellow interns, department heads, executive leadership team, or Dom (the internship supervisor), everyone at the internship is here to support each other. By reaching out, it shows your initiative and willingness to be engaged and active! This is always a plus if this is your first experience.

            One of my favorite parts about this internship is the multitude of opportunities I can pursue. At a traditional internship, I would be expected to work with a certain department and perform specific tasks for that department. But with the DME, I have the chance to work on a variety of projects with the writing/editing department, the special projects department and the external affairs department. This flexibility keeps me interested in all my projects and lets me gain valuable skills.

            Here comes my next piece of advice: be open to any opportunity and don’t be afraid to take a leap of faith! My best experiences from this internship come from being open-minded and not being afraid to try something new (just like writing this blogpost). By being closed off, it limits your possibility to grow in the internship. If you are passionate about something, run with it! There will always be someone supporting you. Within my time at this internship, I was promoted to a department head. That goes to show the endless opportunities available at DME.

            There is much to learn from this internship, so if you are looking to start somewhere, consider DME! It gives you the opportunity to serve and positively impact the Veteran community.

Writer: Julia Pack

Editors: Lutfia Khaleque

Graphic designer: Katie Rahill