Student Testimonials: Reflections on an international internship
Name: Andrea Mulhausen, '09
Hometown: Stillwater, MN
Position Title: Clinic Assistant
Name of Company or Organization: Evangelical International Missions
In two to three sentences, please describe what your internship entailed.
My internship consisted of two parts. The first two weeks were spent shadowing an orthopedic surgeon in St. Paul , allowing me to observe many operations, meetings, clinic visits and other aspects of health care in the US . The latter two weeks were spent with a team of American surgeons at a hospital near San Pedro Sula , Honduras . My roles here varied greatly, including translating, physical therapy, maintenance, sterilizing instruments, circulating operating rooms and assisting during surgeries.
Which country(ies) did your work take you to?
How did you find your internship?
The experience was an intense one, both physically and emotionally. I was exposed to the incredible good that can be done through this kind of short-term medical volunteer work, but also the problems that can be created by it.
Why did you choose to intern abroad instead of domestically?
Primarily because I was considering a career in international health care, and wanted to gain experience in the field. I also think that there is a tremendous amount to be learned through experiences abroad that cannot be learned through the kinds of internships I would have found here, and I wanted to take advantage of this opportunity to do so.
Which parts of your St. Olaf education best prepared you to work and live internationally?
St. Olaf encourages a thought process that steps outside of one's own sphere and offers incredible opportunities to learn to do so. I spent a semester of last year studying abroad on Global Semester, and this experience largely shaped my abilities to work and live abroad.
What is the most difficult or challenging aspect about interning internationally?
I think that many of us (the international interns) were discouraged by the huge scope of the work that we want to do, and the seeming insignificance of the very little that we were able to do in a few short weeks.
What has been the most rewarding aspect of working internationally?
For me the most rewarding part of international work was the amount that I learned about and from those that I met there. Each individual that I was able to connect with and be a part of helping (and in medical work this can be a huge number, depending on how the system is run) added a slightly different perspective on this kind of work as a whole, and I learned more from them than from any other part of the internship.
What does being a “global citizen” mean to you?
I think of it as a mentality through which one views oneself as a member of humanity, described by nationality but not defined by it. Acting as a global citizen means acting as a member of this larger society, and it will continue to grow as an essential way of life as globalization continues.
What advice would you offer other students interested in interning internationally?
Take time to get to know the culture and evaluate your work in the larger scope of things, and see the value of what you do not only in the work itself but in what you learn on the side.Back to student bio page>>