Two Internships for One Determined Student

Melissa Goan ’21 is one busy young woman. In addition to completing her coursework in preparation to graduate at the end of Jan Term in 2021, Goan is actively working as an intern, recently completed a second internship, and is applying for a full-time job. In fact, she has her first postgraduate interview for her dream job at the University of San Francisco (USF) as a deputy Title IX coordinator in the coming weeks.

Goan, a Sociology and Women's and Gender Studies major, gleefully affirms that her internships helped to open the door of opportunity that led to her being selected to interview for the job at USF. “We’re talking about something that has been so fundamental in getting me in the position to be able to interview and really put my best foot forward,” said Goan.

“I’m currently working with the Saint Mary’s Office of Community Life as a Title IX intern. I started last May, and I’ll be with them until January,” shared Goan. She attributes her gained experience and hands-on learning to the people at Saint Mary’s College who were open to help her secure the internship. “I’ve had unsurpassed support from the School of Liberal Arts and received a LAB scholarship to help fund my internship. I also had help from faculty on the academic side so I’m getting course credit as well.”

Goan has also learned a lot about going after what she wants, reaching out to people, and networking for opportunities. “I was able to get the internship at SMC by reaching out to the person that coordinates public service internships. I said to her, “I really want to do something to set me up for my career. I know this is what I want, but I don’t know how to get there. Would it be possible to set something up? All I’m asking for is your time,” said Goan. Her request was presented to the Title IX Committee, and with her LAB scholarship in place, she was extended the opportunity. “I know for sure it’s because of this internship that I’m being considered for the Title IX coordinator job at USF.”

Goan’s internship responsibilities in the Office of Community Life included delivering presentations. “My first opportunity was during the Weekend of Welcome, where I presented to over 300 first-year students,” said Goan. “I’ve contributed to the Colleges Title IX website, and improved communications to include language and tone that is more student-friendly. I’ve also interfaced with students during the intake process.”

Goan’s second internship with the Daraja Education Fund (DEF) was also obtained through her outreach and networking efforts. “I had connections at DEF that I formed through Saint Mary’s when I took an English class in 2019. DEF was my community engagement partner, and I worked with them throughout the semester writing biographies on their students to be sent to donors,” said Goan. DEF raises and provides funds that support Daraja Academy in Kenya to provide free secondary education to girls living in material poverty, and have no other means to attend school; and who despite their circumstances, display leadership and courage.

“I reached out to DEF and asked if they had any internship opportunities, and they brought me onboard,” said Goan. “I realized that by asking and being persistent and self-advocating, I can get really far and set myself up for opportunities.” Goan’s internship was also funded through the LAB scholarship program at Saint Mary’s. “The scholarship was really helpful in helping me to cover the costs of commuting to Daraja, which is located in San Rafael.

Goan’s internship responsibilities were expanded from the work that she had done for them previously. “I was entrusted with the responsibility of being able to create interactive activities for their signature empowerment program. It serves to cultivate the girls’ leadership skills so they can see themselves as impactful community leaders,” stated Goan. “I designed curriculum that included everything from sex education to interpersonal communication. It really challenged me to think creatively.”

“Even in the face of COVID, Melissa was persistent enough to reach out to multiple organizations to secure internships,” said Zahra Ahmed, assistant professor and LAB internship coordinator at SMC. “We had her share her insights at an internship workshop, and she talked about being surprised that the organizations she contacted were so willing to be flexible regarding virtual work and scheduling. That was an important insight that I think many of our students should be aware of.”

Goan is a strong advocate for internships as a way to prepare for the future. “My internships set me up to be in a position to pursue my dream career. I had a range of different opportunities that challenged me to grow and position myself for success after college.”