Marissa Bumanlag recently joined the Windsor Essex Local Immigration Partnership (WE LIP) as an intern, but this isn’t her first internship journey. She is a fourth year Political Science student at the University of Windsor. Volunteering and internships have been part of her learning experience since high school.
Now, as the Intern Volunteer Coordinator for WE LIP, we talked to Marissa about her expectations and experiences.
What is the value of internships?
The value of participating in internship is astronomical. It allows the student to learn from the employer and learn soft skills which aren’t necessarily taught in curriculum. On the employer’s behalf, they can learn a lot from the student. The student will provide an opportunity for networking, connections and fresh ideas.
What are you hoping to gain from the WE LIP internship?
I hoping to receive more of a leadership role. I’m looking to work and be exposed to people from a variety of backgrounds and ages. I want to learn skills that I haven’t been familiar with already. I’m OK with being uncomfortable.
What internships have you done in the past?
I’ve done three internships before with the Volunteer Internship Program with the University of Windsor. My first internship was with the Windsor Historical Society as a creative writer journalist. My second was through the Unemployed Help Centre as a teacher’s aide. The third was through Windsor Bridgeans Basketball; I was a secretary there, organized notes, conducted meetings.
How did you get involved in the Volunteer Internship Program (VIP)?
I got involved with VIP at the end of my first year. I was pressured to maintain my academic scholarship at the University, so I used to be really extreme and stay at Leddy Library for six hours a day trying to study. It was bad to the point where I would neglect my mental and physical health. I reconnected with a friend from high school who suggested the VIP program. I completed that in the summer and got really involved. I volunteered to be on the Selection Board, where I would interview incoming students. From there, I was hired.
What advice would you give to a student who takes on a lot?
Keep your head up. You have to establish a network or family of people to rely on. A mark doesn’t necessarily define you, which I learned in first year university. There are so many things that define you as an individual. In the end, your GPA will only get you to the next level of education. Sometimes, it’s who you know who will get you a job or volunteer opportunities.
The more well-rounded you are, the happier you are. It’s all about balancing personal life, work, school and other commitments.
What things were you looking for when you were on the VIP Selection Board?
Besides their qualifications for the program like good academic standing, we were looking for their willingness and dedication to learn. We were also looking for their motivation to be thrown into different environments and adapt. Their willingness to accept these transferable skills will allow them to articulate their experience.
How have internships shaped your University experience?
Going into University, I had this expectation of going down one path. In reality, it’s been a bunch of avenues and lanes and side roads. Through internships, I’ve been exposed to different mindsets. Experiential learning has been a big component of my University life. All the big mentors in my life and those who have fueled my passion, have been formal mentors through the University of Windsor or professors who have gone out of their way to motivate me. Initially, I wanted to go to law school and realized that I wouldn’t be very happy in that environment. I want to give back to people who may not have the same privileges as I do in Windsor-Essex, especially with my father being an immigrant.
What are your plans after University?
I applied to a Bachelors of Education in Windsor and Toronto. Toronto has a hybrid Masters of Teaching program which I applied to as well. I’m definitely looking to do a Master’s program. I’m very comfortable teaching and working with people from all different age levels.