Leadership Academy – Week 8: Reflections From a Future Alumnus (Jae Jin Lee)
Even though the CAUSE Leadership Academy program is almost at its end, it feels as if I was just getting adjusted to the “intern” life: diligently working at my internship placement and always busy attending CAUSE events. I’ve become so accustomed to this routine that I would regularly check my emails expecting an itinerary for the next CLA workshop and would handle my responsibilities at the office as if I were a regular staff member. I even became less nervous about coffee chats, which no longer seemed like an intensive job interview that I had to prepare a bunch of thought provoking questions for, but rather friendly meetups with people who genuinely just wanted to talk. I had been so caught up in the busy schedule that I had lost track of time and hadn’t realized that all of this would soon come to an end.
I think that the first true moment when I had this realization was at the Alumni Reception. The reception organized to gather the alumni of various CAUSE events. Before the event, we were told that we would see people from previous CLA cohorts, from the CLI program, and even some from the other programs such as the Veterans Initiative and the Leadership Network. Hearing that there were going to be a lot of people that were more experienced and older than I was, I had assumed that this event would be like the first CAUSE meet and greet with the board members, asking them questions about their jobs and experience. And even though these kinds of encounters have become common throughout the program, it was still slightly unsettling to think about having to interact and “network” with more people.
However, when I had arrived at the event, it was much different from what I had expected. Most of the attendees were familiar faces, some being previous CLA panel speakers and others being people I had coffee chats with. It was relatively easy to talk with them not only just about “professional” topics but about anything in general. Even with some of the new people I met, everyone was very open and willing to share their experiences with CAUSE, especially with the interns. It seemed as if the alumni were seeking out the current interns to give them advice, compare experiences, or even just to get to know us. Even though the event was an “Alumni” reception, it felt like the reception was for the interns, while the alumni were there to support.
Throughout the event, everyone was having fun doing the signature bingo, getting scared by the horror VR demo, and even taking fun group pictures. In addition to all the fun that this entire internship has allowed me to have, it has also given me valuable experiences that could be found nowhere else and has allowed me to meet such great people that I wouldn’t have found elsewhere. Even though the program hasn’t yet ended, I am already hoping that I will be able to come back to a future alumni reception so that I can give back to the community that has given so much to me.