My Summer With InterVarsity and Cheese Curds

Posted by Calvin York '18
Internships often teach valuable lessons to students and new professionals. In this week's Caldwell Blog, Calvin York '18 describes his summer internship experience with InterVarsity, an international campus ministry based in Madison, Wisconsin. While the public relations major learned a great deal about his intended profession, he also learned a lot about friendship, America's Dairyland, and His heavenly Father's love for him.
Never in my life did I expect to be so excited to visit Madison, Wisconsin! I mean, I like cheese as much as the next guy, but I wasn’t thinking about America's Dairyland in my spare time. My internship with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, an international college ministry, over this past summer changed that perspective and more.
My name is Calvin York. I am a 2018 graduate of Caldwell Academy and a senior studying public relations at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Last spring, I started searching for an internship. The search process was long and draining. I constantly called my parents for advice and texted one of my professors for interview tips. My Google search history consisted of questions like, “What’s a professional Zoom background?” “Do you capitalize your major in job applications?” and “Should I pack up my essentials and move to a cottage in Ireland?”

I’m an avoidant person sometimes, so much of the application and interview process meant bucking up and just doing the hard thing. My mom refers to this as “stomping your snake.” When applying for internships (and many other adulting-related tasks) you just have to suck it up and do the hard thing. Rework your resume for the 17th time, patch up your cover letter, and turn in that application by 5:00 p.m. I wish I had stomped my snakes sooner in the process. A lot of my stress came from putting off the hard tasks because they were scary and I was afraid of failing. Don’t make the same mistakes I did. Consult counsel in your major’s department and apply when they tell you.

The interview process was only slightly terrifying. One thing that calmed my nerves was realizing these companies or organizations genuinely wanted to know me and to find the best fit for their team. No one was out to get me. I answered questions honestly, wasn’t afraid to ask for more information, and made sure to smile. Don’t overthink it, but also don’t underthink it. It’s a difficult balancing act, but a manageable one. 

Praise the Lord, I got an internship with InterVarsity. Fast forward to June, the first day of my virtual internship. From day one, the other six interns and I felt immediately welcomed. Our superiors prayed over us on our first day. Our perspectives as college students were genuinely valued by our coworkers and our opinions were constantly sought out. They also genuinely cared about us as individuals and invested in our personal growth. The other social media and editorial intern and I began working alongside the editorial team almost immediately. The other interns and I quickly jelled to create epic text threads and remarkable group chemistry, especially over Zoom. 

This internship experience was a delightful gift because I had the opportunity to make new connections and friendships after an entire year of COVID-fueled isolation. Meeting and bonding with new people was such a blessing and testified to how God cared for me over the summer.

Working with the editorial team was also a major blessing for my career development. I served on a small, but mighty team with excellent writers and a caring and knowledgeable boss. My time with them re-ignited my love for writing and my boss taught me so much about social media management. I learned how to use my creativity in new content, how to work with a partner, and how to write copy with an organizational voice in mind. 

Before long, our supervisors approached us with the possibility of continuing the internship in person at the National Service Center in Madison, Wisconsin. It was an ecstatic yes from all of us. Come August, we were headed to Mad City!

Our time in Madison further solidified our bond as interns. There was never an intern spotted alone. Our cubicle corral became a clubhouse, as we constantly cracked jokes and rolled over to each other’s desks to work. We ate cheese curds together, explored the precious capital of Wisconsin, and further connected with co-workers that we had only seen on screen. 

I learned how much God cares for my soul’s health as I made new friends during what I feared would be a lonely summer. Through those connections, He also prepared me for the heartbreak of graduation that’s coming up in May of next year. The fact all seven interns were spread out across the country in different schools strained the unique bond we shared. Some of us remain in touch, reminiscing about the good times we shared. I grew especially close with the marketing intern and we frequently exchange theories about our shared interest in Taylor Swift.

Despite that, losing touch with people with whom I spent so much time proved really difficult. It’s strange to quickly learn more and more about each other, grow in affection, and then see a relationship anti-climatically fizzle out. As difficult as it was, it will make the pain of saying goodbye to the friends I’ve made over the past four years of college a bit more bearable. I think it’s a sign of growing older. Sometimes friendships are seasonal, which can be really hard to accept.

This summer’s internship with InterVarsity was a gift. I re-ignited former passions, learned more about social media, built friendships and connections, and discovered new ways my heavenly Father loves me.