Once upon a time, I was an intern during my first semester of my last year of college.
I was 25 and staring down 3 more semesters of school before I graduated. One summer day, I sat down at the kitchen table and laid out my entire plan – the courses I planned to take and when I would take them in order to reach that magical 120 hours mark that allows you to graduate. I was going to do an internship during the spring semester, right before I completed some summer school classes that would allow me to graduate. Then I got the bright idea to switch things up – do my internship during the Fall semester and take 18 hours during the Spring semester in order to graduate in May.
I had recently learned that even though I was going to graduate a mere 1 month later – in late June – I wouldn’t be allowed to walk the stage May 2011. I would be forced to wait until May 2012, and no way was that happening. So I decided to cram everything in. Which also meant I needed to find an internship ASAP.
I literally Googled something along the lines of “Chicago internship fall 2010” and the first option was an internship with the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Illinois (MAWFI) – they had various internships available. I immediately set forth with my applications, and distinctly remember writing one of my cover letters in the kitchen of the restaurant I was a waitress at in between the lunch and dinner rushes. I wasn’t in a mood to write a cover letter and honestly didn’t care how crappy it was. It was probably my 132nd cover letter and I. WAS. OVER. IT. I threw some witty line in there about being passionate about grammar and priding myself on knowing the difference between they’re, there, and their. I wrote my last paragraph, signed it, emailed it with my resume and called it a day.
Some odd days later I was contacted about coming into the MAWFI offices downtown for an interview. WHAAAAAT! I was interviewing for the position I had written the crappy cover letter for – and yes, they actually read my cover letter. I was mortified/excited that I had an interview based on that!
It was one of those infamous Chicago summer days – 95 and humid. Despite my pants being a rather heavy material, I put on my super cute new interview outfit, Googled my route, and was on my way! A couple hours later, I was in a panic. I was wandering around some neighborhood because the address I had put into Google was unrecognizable for some reason and just sent me somewhere random apparently. (Thanks for that, 2010 Google Maps). It was quickly approaching my interview time and I was lost. So I called the HR guy. I explained what had happened, and that despite giving myself ample time to get to the office, I was going to be late because I was OH SO LOST. He was really nice, asking where I was and then told me what bus I could get on to get there. I showed up 30 minutes late, a sweating frizzy-haired hot mess, and after meeting with the HR guy, I then met with the internship supervisor. After profusely apologizing for my tardiness, she laughed it off, telling me not to worry – she was over 30 minutes late to her own interview there 3 years ago. But before I could tell her I loved her for that comment, she told me she adored my writing. Then, to top it off, she told me her favorite part of my cover letter: “I pride myself on knowing the difference between they’re, there, and their.” Hire me please, just so I can continue to be adored.
And hire me, she did.
I was one of the stewardship interns during the Fall of 2010, which meant I got to write up stories about the Wish Kids after their Wish was complete. People who donate $5000+ have the ability to Adopt-a-Wish. That means their money goes towards a specific wish, which they get to pick out. The story and a picture of the Wish Kid during their Wish is put together in a frame and shipped to the donor as a thank you gift.
Being an intern during the Fall semester meant I also got to witness Wishes during the holiday season. Christmas is such an important holiday for kids, especially ones who are sick. It’s a time for magic and joy and believing in good things. Enter: The Believe campaign by Macy’s. They partner with Make-A-Wish every year during the holiday season and encourage kids (and adults who are still a kid at heart) to Believe by writing letters to Santa. For every letter to Santa that gets dropped off in a special mailbox at Macy’s stores, Macy’s will donate $1 to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, up to $1M.
I was able to experience all of the goodness that goes on in the MAWFI office even after I finished my internship by becoming a Wish Granter. Due to a hectic schedule I had to go on hiatus, but hope to continue it one day. This letter writing campaign is an easy way to experience that goodness, and be a part of something bigger. I don’t care if you stopped believing in Santa 40 years ago – writing a letter and dropping it off at Macy’s is an easy way to do some good in the world – and help bring a smile to a child’s face. Get your kids, grandkids, nieces and nephews in on it, too!
Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa. Whatever you celebrate, celebrate it even bigger and better this year by giving back.