From international internships to social entrepreneurship projects, #UHBauer students have had a productive (and life-changing) summer break! Here, 6 students share how they spent the break.
I spent my summer as part of a next-generation entrepreneurial community pursuing redemptive action through business & nonprofits called Praxis Academy. I and other students were hosted at the Biola University campus and overseen by the Dean of Crowell School of Business in Los Angeles, California. Through a multi-faceted learning experience, I got to meet 200+ other students, mentors and venture CEOs/founders from various majors, industry sectors and geographies. For five days, I was exposed to various topics via keynote speakers, startup stories, breakout sessions, roundtable discussions and groups, workshops and idea pitch incubators. I learned about topics on culture-making in the business world and marketplace; the redemptive venture framework; vocational journey; branding and storytelling. And after being commissioned to pursue redemptive action in my own life and on my university campus, I was invited to continue with an opportunity within Praxis.
I chose a “non-traditional summer” because I wanted to reignite my desire for school as business had become fleeting and dissatisfactory, rather unfulfilling. In my experience with history repeating itself, it’s left me with enough regrets to make sure that choosing business would not be one of them. A decision I made that has financially stretched me and displaced me from significant individuals in my life –- and continues to do so — but has also been the source of my most significant personal and professional growth and development.
I am careful to want to recommend the Praxis Academy program experience. The nonprofit itself is a faith-based venture group, yes; yet from a fairly objective viewpoint, Academy Week provides such vulnerable and intimate way of viewing ventures of all kinds. As an organization across 40+ countries and 150+ ventures, their united vision and mission provides tangible potential of reality of TSI versus CSR and ethical practices as baseline and not top-of-the-line or trendy. What’s commonly known as differentiation within the marketplace, Praxis Academy gets you thinking about making a difference in and changing the marketplace all together. Greater than carving out specific niches, but building up new industries and standards within those existing altogether.
This summer I was an intern at the U.S. Embassy of Asuncion in Paraguay from June to August. I was able to work in various sections within the State Department, Department of Justice, and DEA, which allowed me to experience working in different parts of the Embassy. I was able to learn a lot about what a career in the foreign service would entail and I had the opportunity to see if I would like to pursue a similar path. I learned invaluable lessons from this internship and it encouraged me to look into international careers after graduation. I also had the chance to travel around South America while I was here and meet other interns from across the U.S.
My parents work for the U.S. Department of State and are assigned to Asuncion, so I wanted to be able to spend the summer with them but also have the opportunity to have an internship, so this was the perfect solution. I also was curious to see if I would enjoy working in a public sector environment and I knew that not many people my age would have the chance to participate in an internship like this one.
I think that working overseas at a U.S. Embassy is an extremely unique experience because you have the opportunity to grow in your career and explore a new country at the same time. If you enjoy travelling and want to get out of your comfort zone, I would say that interning abroad is a great option because you learn to challenge yourself in new ways. I had an amazing experience interning at the U.S. Embassy of Asuncion because I learned a lot about what I want to do after graduation, I was able to travel, and made amazing friends throughout the summer.
We spent our summer as sales interns at Rackspace, a dedicated and cloud computing company. Our role in the internship was to shadow and work as sales and marketing development representatives. We were able to create real meetings with high level executives from companies in different industries nationwide. We were able to observe other parts of the sales organization, as well as participate in Rackspace hosted events, and spend time volunteering at the local San Antonio Ronald McDonald House. Our internship culminated with an extraordinary project where we brought in over 35 different San Antonio-based companies, with 70 attendees that consisted of executive leadership throughout various industries.
We wanted to both work for a company that we knew had an amazing culture, in meeting the “Rackers” that came to the University of Houston we knew that this place was different. We were able to explore a new city while at the same time making incredible friendships with our fellow interns, and co-workers. We were able to create memories traveling in and outside of Texas, and truly enjoy what a San Antonio summer has to offer!
Working at Rackspace is an incredible experience! Not only do you get to work at a consistently ranked “Top Places to Work,” company, but you also get to experience an awesome city, that is centrally located to some of the best places in Texas. The ability to work for a company where your opinions and ideas matter is truly eye opening. The constant support and mentorships that we received from our team was also helpful and encouraging. Truly an amazing experience to be a “Racker!”
As my last summer ends, I can say that I have thoroughly enjoyed every bit of it, despite the fact that it has been an extremely busy one. For the first few weeks, I was at home, helping my father grow his business. Attempting to fix every inefficiency we had and implement new concepts and ideas I have learned here at The Wolff Center for Entrepreneurship. Then, I embarked on my Panama Trip with some of my WCE colleagues and the wonderful people of Bauer Global Brigades. We were there for eight days which seemed pretty difficult at first but towards the end, I did not want to leave. Now that I am back, I have been working on several projects we have going on at WCE like our Amazon business, our Intellectual Property business and gathering partners for our biggest festival of the year, Wolffest. As well as continuing to improve my family’s business.
I wanted a non-traditional summer because since it is my last summer ever as a student, I needed it to be special/different. I felt that it was the one where I had to grow and learn the most. I am glad to say that it has definitely been that way.
I would definitely recommend the Panama trip to anybody that seeks adventure, new grounds and new cultures. Aside from the fact that the landscape was beautiful and that the food was amazing, the trip served me well as it opened my mind to several realizations I took back home. As I said earlier, in the beginning, the trip seemed difficult. We were in a camp in the jungle with no hot water, no Wi-Fi, and no nearby store within 5-6 miles. Yet all those negative aspects slowly turned into positives as I realized how we were actually free from all of the city commotion, the traffic, the crime and worries. Not to mention, the local natives showed us how simple yet happy they lived, which definitely rubbed off on us. Truly a humbling life changing experience that I am glad I took which I owe all to my program, The Wolff Center for Entrepreneurship, for choosing me to embark on this adventure.
I spent a solid two weeks of my summer on a faculty-led study abroad trip to Amman, Jordan. The program incorporated intensive Arabic training, touring historical sites, and a research project. I learned lots of new spoken Arabic and learned a lot about Jordanian history and culture.
However, the biggest takeaway for me was my experience in the Palestinian refugee camps. As a Palestinian, I was struck very hard to see their conditions and expected to feel sad for them. Instead, I felt uplifted and motivated to continue to speak for them as I heard about their resistant and resilient spirit. From their jokes to their stories to their political histories, they showed me that their presence went far beyond the stereotypical idea that refugees are just hand-fed political subjects who can’t produce for themselves. I then completed my research project on the Palestinian refugee camps through an art piece consisting of a short poem with accompanying line by line explanations. The piece includes information on the camps’ dire conditions, how the refugees build economic and political structures for themselves, and how they use art to convey their spirit of resistance and struggle.
I aimed to branch out and have an experience that would go beyond boosting a résumé or setting up a professional career path. Instead, I wanted to have an experience that would expand my world view and challenge me to adapt to different situations. I viewed going overseas as an opportunity to rediscover myself and rejuvenate my Arab heritage.
I would definitely recommend this experience to others because it doesn’t only have the power to change what you think about Arab countries but also change how you think. It’s one thing to go to a different country for the historical sites, but it’s another to live among the people and truly attempt to experience how it feels to live in Jordan. UH’s study abroad program in Jordan, led by Professors Michael Fares and Dina Alsowayel, did a great job of balancing both the tourist side with the local authentic side. Therein, such a trip dismantles many of the Arab and Middle Eastern stereotypes from mainstream media that may lie in people’s minds. The experience illuminates a different way of life from the food to the public calls to prayer to the government structure as well as highlighting the similarities. Overall, the experience humanizes people we would not know much about and also expands your political, social, and economic understandings of the world around you.