Opportunity Requires Sacrifice

Posted on Friday, Feb 17, 2017

It has been over three weeks since I moved to Austin and began this internship. While it has been a mixed bag of emotions, I have grown so much as a person, as a professional, and as an informed citizen, but I would not have had this opportunity if I had shied away when I was offered to intern.

If you ever feel compelled to make the most of your college experience, consider an internship, especially one that puts you in an entirely new environment. I am writing to the people who are on the fence about taking a semester off to pursue an investment for their future because I was one of those people just a few months ago. Austin was never on my radar. It was only when I was told I had potential for state government work in my PPIP interview for Washington D.C. that I considered and ultimately pursued the idea. To have these opportunities requires a sacrifice of some kind, and there’s a lot to consider. Leading up to my decision to move 100 miles away from College Station was incredibly difficult. I finally felt I had a wonderful community around me, so to leave terrified me because I feared I’d miss out on the things my friends were doing.

However, I’m three weeks in and I feel like I have a valuable niche within the state government and within the Lt. Governor’s office, in assisting our Health and Human Services Department. The days can be long, but walking through the Capitol feels like home. And while I do not agree with every bill that has been filed, this exposure to our government is incredibly empowering because knowledge is power. I am so encouraged that I have this opportunity to be informed and understand how a piece of the world runs around me, especially the legislation that will affect my family, friends, and my community.

It is true that if you leave for a semester to go and intern or even study abroad, you will have moments where you will miss the “typical” college life. You will miss your friends, and you will miss this wonderful community A&M has, but college is meant for exploring and focusing on the improvement of oneself. Everyone wants internships in the summer because it is convenient to not miss a semester, but convenience does not give you the opportunity to work with state senators and representatives. It goes back to sacrifices - if you want to be prepared in the best way, what are you willing to give up?

Of course it will not always be easy. Committee hearings can go late into the night (sometimes midnight), and the days can be long. Constituents can be unpleasant. I’ll never forget my first day of this internship. I had a bad fit of allergies mixed with a cold, which made the day longer. Later that night, I was missing my friends and questioned if I had made the right decision. When I was shopping at HEB for allergy medicine that night, I started to contemplate if I had made the right decision to leave, which led to a few tears that were shed.

Looking back, I am a little embarrassed that I cried in HEB during that low moment, but I realize I will have more of those. If anything, I have learned I am growing strong enough to push through. I am content where I am, and I have vowed to myself that I would improve in any way possible, even if only incremental. For example, making conversation with strangers, specifically those in high positions, can be incredibly hard for me. Sometimes it feels like I physically have to climb over a barrier before I initiate a conversation, but I am practicing my social and business skills through one-on-one meetings with advocacy groups and taking every chance I have to introduce myself and speak to whoever enters our office, and I can see the difference it is already making.

Carl Rogers once said, “a person is a fluid process, not a fixed and static entity; a flowing river of change, not a block of solid material; a continually changing constellation of potentialities, not a fixed quantity of traits.” This quote is a constant reminder that this internship will change me. Yes, my college experience is a little different than others, but I have decided that this precious time before “real adulthood” is worth the effort to focus solely on myself, and I encourage you to do the same.

Jena Seidemann
Office of Lt. Governor Dan Patrick
Austin, Texas