Diving Headfirst Into Ireland

Hello everyone! My name is Madelynn Lederer and I am excited to depart for Dublin this Sunday to begin the International Internship Program. I just finished my sophomore year at Pitt, where I am a Stamps Scholar majoring in Political Science and Public and Professional Writing in the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences and seeking a Certificate in Leadership from the College of General Studies. This fall I will also begin a Certificate in Television and Broadcast Arts from the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences. My undergraduate academic career has been anything but ordinary. Entering as a first year in the fall of 2020 I took two semesters of class entirely online, and began synchronous in-person classes in the fall of my sophomore year. Every disruption and change I have experienced has made me an adaptable and resourceful student. Throughout my college experience I have dove headfirst into new experiences and opportunities and I am excited to do the same in Ireland.

In my first four semesters at Pitt I have grown as a person and as a professional through my experiences on and off campus. I am a Blue and Gold Society Ambassador, member of the Student Government Board on the Academic Affairs Committee, and I am in my second term as a Pitt Dance Marathon chair. I love focusing my efforts on volunteer and advocacy work which I feel best integrates what I’m learning in the classroom with my personal goals. This year I had two internships. I worked for the University of Pittsburgh Division of Student Affairs as a Writing and Communications intern in the fall where I managed the Student Affairs social media accounts, wrote newsletters, and covered various on campus events. While I enjoyed my experience, my greatest takeaways were that I do not find social media management personally engaging and I am happiest when I am working on a team. In the spring I was an Institute of Politics intern for Pennsylvania State Representative Emily Kinkead. I assisted with various constituent services including communication with the Department of Labor and Industry regarding unemployment claims, filing Property Tax Rent Rebate paperwork for elderly members of our district, and organizing a Women’s Symposium with resources relevant to local women. Working in public service was extremely rewarding, and I am so excited to continue working in the public sector as an intern for South Dublin County Council under Councilor Emma Murphy.

I have wanted to study abroad since my freshman year of high school. As I got older, and after choosing Pitt, my goal specified to wanting to study abroad but on a program that allowed for greater independence than a traditional class schedule. The International Internship Program will give me a feeling of what it is like to live and work full time in another country, gaining skills I can transfer to life after graduation. I have never been to Ireland (a short trip to Italy and Paris three years ago is the only experience I have in Europe) and the opportunity to experience a new culture and way of living without a language barrier is a privilege I am extremely grateful for. I hope to continue enriching my skills as a public servant and compare the experiences I have had in government in the United States to government abroad, gaining a comparative lens through which to view local government. Putting my third internship on my resume will make me a more competitive candidate for future positions I hope to successfully pursue before graduation, and bringing new perspectives I gain from working abroad will help me grow as a creative problem solver at work. The six academic credits will help me in my pursuit of two bachelor’s degrees in four years. The coursework, which is heavily based on reflection will help build my employment portfolio and organize my thoughts. In the past, reflecting on my internship experiences has helped me in future interviews to clearly articulate what I gained.

As a person, I hope to use this experience to prove that I am independent and capable adapting to new circumstances. Like I said, I take pride in my ability to dive headfirst into challenges and adapt to cold water while I swim through it. Going abroad is intimidating, but I do not want to waste this experience and leave with any lingering “what ifs”. I am so excited to see what is in store for me in Ireland and how this experience will change me for the better.