Photo By Hillary Ehlen
It’s safe to say that most students in college attend in hope of finding a meaningful career post-graduation. For many of these students, internships while in college pave the visions for their futures. Communication Studies Junior Micayla Bitz of Concordia College particularly knows this to be true.
Micayla Bitz spent this past summer interning at Lutheran Social Services (LSS) on their community engagement team. While interning there, she immersed herself in public policy work, doing projects like making profiles for each legislative district and analyzing data.
In a sea of nonprofits and incredible organizations, Bitz was drawn to interning at Lutheran Social Services from yet another internship she completed. In the summer of 2018, she interned at the congressional office of Senator Heidi Heitkamp in Bismark. “I had gone to a few refugee resettlement meetings and I just thought it was really cool what [Lutheran Social Services] was doing. It was something I wanted to be part of,” she said about her introduction to Lutheran Social Services while in Bismark.
While Lutheran Social Services were on her radar and she was interested in the work they were doing, it was Concordia’s online internship database that helped her get connected with the organization. Aso integral in her decision to apply for the internship was a special scholarship available to Concordia students. Interning at a nonprofit is something many Concordia students find themselves interested in, but with many of these internship opportunities being unpaid, there’s a barrier. Lucky for these Concordia students, Bitz included, there is the Swendseid Service Scholars Award.
Thanks to donor Solveig Swendseid (‘50), Concordia students can apply for the Swendseid Service Scholars Award, which funds students internships at nonprofits. Bitz was a recipient of this award for the summer of 2019. “[Swendseid] really cared about nonprofit work, so she donated money so that we can get paid to work for a nonprofit in the summer. I wouldn’t have been able to afford to stay in Fargo [for the summer] otherwise,” said Bitz.
After a summer of learning and hard work, Lutheran Social Services wasn’t ready to let go of Bitz just yet. “I had a few unfinished projects so they did some negotiating and brought me on. My title is now ‘Fundraising Assistant’ for the community engagement team,” she said. The main thing Bitz will continue with is writing a special book in celebration for the organization’s centennial.
“It’s been so fun to be in that work environment. Where you all know you’re working to put good in the world and everyone’s really excited about it,” she said.
What Bitz liked about Lutheran Social Services is similar to what she likes about Fargo-Moorhead in general. She noted that she has seen a lot of pride in the Fargo community and that she enjoys being in a community that people are proud to live in. “A lot of people here have big goals and big dreams and that’s just a cool atmosphere to be around,” she said.
What’s next for Bitz? This question of “What do you want to do after college?” is always dreaded by 20-year-olds across the nation. But thanks to her summer experiences, Bitz isn’t so in the dark. “After working for Lutheran Social Services, its really cleared up the direction of where I want to go,” said Bitz. “I think a broad description would be that I want to put good into the world and to do good things.” Bitz is a walking example of how important internships are and how the right internship can really help a student decide what they want their future to look like.
During her time at Concordia, Bitz has discovered her passions. “I think they are really good about pushing their students to be the best they can be and to keep reaching,” said Bitz. “That mentality where everyone is trying to be the best they can be has really pushed me to grow as a person and a student.”
While the “Overinvolved Cobber” is a jestful stereotype amongst the student population at Concordia, it’s something that sets Concordia’s students apart. This culture of engagement and community involvement is something Bitz has found encouraging and has helped shape her college experience. It’s hard to say if Bitz qualifies as an “Overinvolved Cobber,” but she certainly is making her mark on the community and will be an example to future students.