By: Nick Santangelo
Senior Amanda Morrison's path hasn't been what she expected it to be. That hasn't stopped it from surpassing her expectations.
The Springfield, Mo. native originally thought she'd attend a small liberal arts college, but a visit to Temple University's North Philly campus changed her mind. The energy she found at the largest university in one of the country's largest cities was infectious.
"With the College of Liberal Arts (CLA), I feel like I still had, and still feel like I have, a smaller, more tight-knit community within a larger institution," says Morrison, "and I feel like I really got the best of both worlds choosing Temple."
Even when she decided to apply to Temple and CLA, however, Morrison had yet another expectation that ended up being subverted. Originally applying as a political science major and Spanish minor, Morrison instead decided to attend CLA as a global studies major. She made the change after speaking to several global studies majors and being won over by their perspectives.
"It seemed to pull together a lot of diverse interests that I have," recalls Morrison. "I really like political science, but I'm also interested in economics and gender studies and history, all of which are really encompassed in the global studies major. I loved that I could essentially study several majors in one program. And I've really enjoyed that program."
Fast forward to today, and Morrison is now working in a paid role as an executive assistant at Women's Campaign International (WCI). She's been doing so since February, just one month after initially starting at WCI as an intern.
I loved that I could study really several majors but in one program
Morrison was drawn to the internship after two experiences reaffirmed her lifelong interest in gender studies and women's empowerment: a summer studying abroad in Amsterdam and her application for the prestigious Truman Scholarship, for which she ended up becoming a finalist.
"You have to articulate a problem that you see in the world and how you plan to solve that through public service," she says of the Truman Scholarship. "I was writing about the lack of women's representation in government and then, through that experience and my study abroad experience, realized that I'd really like to work for a women's nonprofit."
A cursory Google search for Philadelphia women's organizations exposed Morrison to WCI. Being unfamiliar with the organization, she spoke with CLA's Professional Development team, which highly recommended WCI. Morrison applied, expecting an internship for a semester. She got one, but only for four weeks. Then she found herself with a part-time job.
While it's not unheard of for an internship to lead to a job, it's rare for it to happen before graduation and before the internship has concluded. In Morrison's case, it happened as the internship had barely even begun. She credits her ability to quickly form a strong professional relationship with her boss for making it possible.
And those connections might have future reverberations for Morrison's long-term ambition of running for United States Congress. Morrison compares much of the work she does now as akin to duties that a political chief of staff would carry out. What's more, her boss has a number of government connections Morrison says inspire her to one day land a seat on Capitol Hill.
"I've had a few internships, and they've all been not only impactful with the connections that I've made, but I've also just really learned a lot about myself," says Morrison. "I think it's taught me to self-reflect and really process through what I want to do in the future and where I see myself. I think internships are invaluable to decide your direction in life, not necessarily your whole future direction, but what you want your next steps to be."
Morrison's learned not to plan out her entire future anyway. Who knows? Some new opportunity might once again send her along a new path.