After her involvement with the Political and Civic Engagement (PACE) internship, environmental sciences and sustainability major, Tara Seizys said she found her calling.
“This internship related to my studies at IU because my major, environmental and sustainability studies with a concentration in sustainable food systems, along with my minor in nonprofit management had given me the desire to address hunger present in communities,” Seizys said. “However, as I have continued to grow and develop as an individual, I have realized I would like to go into food law and policy.”
The PACE internship is designed to integrate students into their field of interest. Offering opportunities for students to apply what they have learned in a professional atmosphere, PACE internships help individuals who want to build mentoring relationships with supervisors and faculty and clarify their career goals.
Each student who applies is required to submit an internship proposal plan giving applicants a chance to describe the organization or company they wish to intern with, how it is conducive to their line of study and what they want to gain from the experience.
Seizys said she reached out to an organization in Denver, Colorado called The GrowHaus, a nonprofit indoor farm dedicated to food production, education and distribution. The organization scheduled an interview offering her a position as an intern shortly after.
“There is no such thing as a typical day in the operations department of a small nonprofit or any nonprofit for that matter,” Seizys said. “One day I would be folding envelopes or testing ancient desktops to see if they worked, other days I would be trying to get permits for a big event while sending emails and calling people.”
Seizys said she routinely had time to sit with her supervisor during the work day and discuss how her projects were going. She said she offered to help other departments with their projects and “95% of the time” they would ask her to help.
“It was really interesting to see other aspects of a nonprofit as well,” she said.
Having the opportunity to gain field experience, Seizys said, helped her realize she wants to focus her studies on food law and policy.
“The biggest takeaway from this experience for me is that so many different things perpetuate the issue of hunger,” Seizys said. “I came to realize that infrastructure development, discrimination, transportation, industry, poverty and so much more are a part of the problem. I think the work of nonprofits is wonderful, but policy needs to change in order to have the results we would like.”
Seizys said though she loved the community and service of sharing in a nutritious meal with others, the organization felt too small for her liking.
“I just wanted to keep going and really make a dent in the food system and I struggled to come to terms with the fact that I was behind the scenes and, though I was still important, no one would really know who I was,” she said.
However, Seizys is grateful for the knowledge she gained from working hands-on in the agricultural industry and is further inspired by her experiences.
“I believe policy needs to change and there need to be more people fighting this issue,” Seizys said. “I am currently in Washington D.C. as a legislative intern and I am hoping to get a more in-depth understanding of policy as a whole so that I can begin the journey to law school when I graduate in May. That is my goal right now. But as someone who was once a fashion design major turned environmental major, I know very well that things can change.”
For more information on how to get involved with internships at Indiana University Bloomington, visit the Office of Engaged Learning at www.engagedlearning.indiana.edu or contact the office via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.