In December, I graduated from university with a Bachelor of Arts degree in International Relations. I joined clubs that interested me, I studied foreign languages—Russian and French—and I completed a minor in Peace and Conflict studies. In addition to the dozens of free seminars offered each semester, I had great professors and a career services department that helped advise me on the next steps I should take. If I had any questions, there was always someone I could ask or resources I could use to find the answers.
In January, I supposedly entered the “real world” ready to make my dreams a reality. I’m supposed to be gaining experience before advancing my career in the non-profit industry. I’m supposed to be using my education and resources to maximize my success, and even then, there’s the expectation that this can take time. But what happens when you don’t necessarily have the education, opportunities, or resources to make your dreams a reality?
In February, I was fortunate enough to discover Cultivate. Cultivate’s mission to empower community leaders to fight injustices and create sustainable change fits perfectly with both my professional and personal interests. I want to be able to help others any way I can, but I also recognize that sustainable development is best achieved from inside the community. Historically, imposing change on communities has not only been unsuccessful, but has created cycles of dependency. But when organizations that are native to the communities they serve attempt to break into the non-profit scene, they often achieve little success. They may have the insight into how their communities will be best served and the willpower to do whatever is necessary, but they may not necessarily have the resources or the knowledge of how to obtain them.
Cultivate bypasses this by providing the education and support necessary to get these organizations started. The entire point of cultivating our trainees is so that they may one day continue to grow on their own. I can’t imagine how much more difficult my own path would be without the benefit of the education and guidance I received, and by interning with Cultivate, I hope that I can help local leaders become the changemakers their communities need.
-Alex Albrecht, Former Intern