As a Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies major, my internship at Rappahannock Council Against Sexual Assault (RCASA) has greatly related to my courses. RCASA provides support services to survivors of sexual violence and their loved ones, as well as educational services to help inform people about the intricacies of sexual violence. These include but are not limited to how to support individuals who have experienced sexual violence, who is impacted by sexual violence, and what societal factors impact sexual violence.
Many of my courses have gone in-depth on these topics, particularly how different societal factors impact sexual violence. These include topics such as the socialization of norms, rape culture, the process and impact of stigmatization, and less formally: “boys will be boys” culture. While working as an intern with RCASA, I have been able to synthesize and put my education to work. I can see firsthand how these topics present in the real world and working with survivors has helped me take my education a step further and put it to practical use.
Although my internship responsibilities mostly include behind the scenes work such as research, brainstorming, and coming up with social media posts to spread awareness and knowledge, being able to indirectly help survivors has taught me so much. My academic courses have taught me a lot about these issues, but there is no better way to learn than firsthand experience, which I am gaining at this internship. It puts these ideas into perspective and allows me to expand them in new ways that I would not have been able to do in a classroom setting.
Going forward, this experience will help me bring a new perspective into the classroom. It will encourage me to think of any new topics I learn about not only in an academic setting, but to also think of their real-world applications and how they impact individuals. This internship will bring my future education into a new light because I will always be thinking of practical applications and the real-world impact as well as solutions.
In the future, I hope that this experience will help me be more prepared for post-graduation plans. My goal is to go to grad school to get my master’s in social work, and I believe this internship will help me achieve that goal by providing real life experience related to the field.