The Pursuit of Justice: Dressember Internship Stories
This summer, between my junior and senior years of college, I worked an internship at an insurance brokerage and risk management consulting firm. I was trying out the 9-to-5 grind but was mostly after work experience for the old resumé. I didn’t feel like I was actually using my specific skills or gifts, nor was I finding passion and joy in my performance. I was grateful for this gig to pay the bills, but I could tell this direction wasn’t the right fit. I felt like a small child surrounded by a forest of trees so tall I had to lean my head all the way back to see the tops. I wondered, “What was out there for me?”
One day in June, a metaphorical breadcrumb dropped in my path in the middle of my lunch break. It was an e-mail from the Dressember Foundation that read, “We Want YOU: Call for 2017 Interns,” and it was like a small beam of light flitted across my face. I blinked. I hadn’t read past the subject line, but my mind was racing.
Here was a cause I already had a heart for; I loved participating in the Dressember challenge the previous year. The editorial internship would help me contribute in real, tangible ways to help educate, encourage, and inspire others. It combined both pragmatism and creativity for the purpose of fighting human trafficking, and somebody was pulling back the veil to show me that I could find actual work at this intersection. I had no idea if my limited writing samples might qualify me for a position, but I couldn’t pass up this shot, so I took the leap and applied.
I was thrilled to be accepted, and today, I am just as thrilled as I was all those months ago to be part of this work. There’s still so much more ahead of me to do, but I already have many takeaways from being a Dressember editorial intern, three of which I’ll share.
First, I have been stretched in my writing ability. As I look through the articles I’ve crafted and the words I’ve rewritten, again and again, I sometimes see really personal bits of me peeking through when at the time of writing I was uncomfortable being vulnerable for the world to read. Alongside that, I envision all the research I compiled about trafficking villains and the heroes we support. My job is to be a storyteller, and whether it be through fact, narrative, interview, opinion, and so on, I have very much enjoyed finding new ways to use my voice to share.
Second, in my pursuit of social justice during this internship, I have realized a need for strong support from others. I’ve been reading news articles, watching documentaries, and interviewing advocates for work while personally researching deeper into human trafficking (and those fighting against it). Simultaneously, I have been taking classes at my university regarding injustice and global inequality. It can feel extremely heavy and hopeless when consuming such a massive amount of material about the evil webbed across the world.
More heavily than in the past, I have leaned on friends who share my values and care about justice. By processing my thoughts and feelings with them in response to what I learn, I can reach greater clarity and drive than I would on my own. The road to social justice is not a single-lane dirt road but rather an incredible cluster of merging and diverging highways.
Third, I have solidified a desire to pursue work in activism, to continually grow in humility and empathy for others, to always use what I have been given for good. Seeing the dedicated individuals around the world, who labor steadily for justice for all, has confirmed that this is the kind of work I would love to be a part of for life. Despite all the heartache, anger, and horror these efforts can yield, I believe it’s worth it in order to be on the side of those who actively promote hope, safety, and freedom! Although on occasion I still feel like a little girl in the forest, I am encouraged to know that others have been in my shoes.
I have so much giddiness and gratitude when I think about my experience being on the Dressember editorial team with so many fabulous and talented people. I can’t wait to see it continue to bloom across the globe, and I’m honored to have been a part of it. What might be out there for you?
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About the Author
Chynna Terrell is an ENFJ studying English Literature at the University of Oklahoma (boomer!). Aside from trying not to think about being a senior, she is president of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship and is excited to participate again and write for Dressember. And, why yes, she would love to have you over for a hot cup of tea, a puzzle, and good conversation.