SGA Educational Program builds ‘strong leaders’ through internships

Nicole Stone/Assistant News Director

Thirty-seven students were selected out of a pool of 80 applicants for an internship offered by the Student Government Association at MMC.

The program, known as the SGA Educational Program, aims to develop the leadership qualities of freshmen and sophomore students through a series of events, meetings and workshops.

Sophomore Patricia Moreno, a marine biology major and secretary of the SGA Educational Program, graduated from the program last year before being appointed to her position.

“I applied for an SGA Cabinet position. I was appointed staff by the president and now I went up to Secretary of the Educational Program,” she said.

The program sets up tables at Freshman Convocation to recruit incoming students who can join by submitting an application online. Students must have a GPA of at least 3.0.

After the initial application phase, the prospective interns interact with members of senate and cabinet at a meeting and are selected based on the impression they leave on the SGC-MMC members.

The program, according to Moreno, does not seek junior or senior applicants as they have a limited time left on campus before they graduate. Seniors and juniors are expected to run for a position instead, she said.

“The program was created to help students know what SGA was about before getting into SGA,” Moreno said.

However, while this may be the case, not every intern will continue into SGA. The program, according to Moreno, is not exclusively for students looking to join SGA, but is instead an opportunity for developing leadership skills that will maintain across all organizations.

“Last year, there were 35 interns and in SGA currently, we have four or five interns from last year,” Moreno said.

The rest of the interns left and are now participating in other organizations such as Greek Life, the Council for Student Organizations, Relay for Life and other involvements on campus that interested them, according to Moreno.

“We’re going to incorporate the internship program with these organizations so that they can have interns,” Moreno said, adding that this is a great opportunity for the interns to explore opportunities that may interest them. “Maybe they [the organizations] decide to do an internship program themselves and that leads to more interns and more opportunities for people who don’t get accepted to [SGA].”

Interns, Moreno said, will be required to assist with a minimum of four events this semester.

“This means they can go out and help CSO or BSU or all these other councils who need help or assistance. They want to see SGA present,” Moreno said.

The program also plans to have interns attend Senate and Cabinet meetings in addition to a regular weekly meeting that takes place on Tuesdays from 3:30 p.m. – 5 p.m.

“That way, they know what happens in the meetings, what we talk about and how SGA at FIU is trying to grow and help this community,” she said.

Interns will also be planning events on their own and alternating on a weekly basis between SGA and the Center for Leadership for training.

“It’s a nice thing to know that interns who are not yet SGA officials have the capabilities to execute those kinds of events,” Moreno said.

While students who are outgoing are generally best suited to succeed in the internship, shyer students are not disregarded, said Moreno.

“Just because someone may seem shy or quiet, we don’t leave those people out, because those sometimes are the ones that shine,” she said.

Vanessa Ramsaywack, a freshman business marketing major, was among the group of applicants that were accepted to intern this cycle. She hopes to go into the fashion industry.

“I was a strong leader in my high school. [The program is] going to help me build my leadership, my people skills, and it’s also going to help me learn about FIU…” Ramsaywack said.

The key to succeeding as a new intern, according to Ramsaywack, lies in an open mindset.

“Always have an open mind. It’s good to be well rounded,” Ramsaywack said. “Being in the internship program, if you have a hardbound view of things, you’re not going to be able to see other people’s point of view – and that’s the point of working towards the service of the school  – you have to meet everyone’s needs.”

Cristian Cruz, a freshman intern majoring in English, feels that new interns shouldn’t be nervous to express their thoughts.

“Don’t be afraid to say your ideas or to propose what you have to say. I think we all learn to accept and consider ideas and any movements we want to start. Don’t be afraid,” Cruz said.

Cruz is striving to become a lawyer and believes that the knowledge he gains through the SGA Educational Program will allow him to succeed in future SGA positions.

“It’s going to prepare me because I definitely will get a view of every single part of SGA and how they function together and separately,” he said.

Additionally, the SGA Educational Program exposes its interns to new situations and experiences. A new experience for Ramsaywack involved analyzing her personality with the Myer-Briggs Type Indicator questionnaire. The MBTI is a personality assessment exam that analyzes an individual’s traits through their responses to a series of questions.

“I’ve never actually sat down and self assessed my personality until then,” Ramsaywack said. “We did that to help us understand how we work so we can help people.”

Moreno hopes to see more than ten interns applying for senate or cabinet next year.

“I want to see that this program bear fruit, that it has a purpose and that its purpose is being carried out… empowering students to grow and to explore their leadership skills,” Moreno said.


Featured Image by Nicole Malanga/PantherNOW

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