College Student Personnel program

Summer Internship: Taking Risks, Being Reflective, and Keeping and Open-Mind

by Christine Nguyen, CSP Class of 2015 and summer intern at Cornell University (NY)

This summer, I am completing an ACUHO-I internship at Cornell University (Ithaca, New York) as Head Resident of the Summer College program. In this role, I am given the opportunity to do what many professional hall/complex directors do during the academic year,  including creating and implementing RA training, supervising an RA staff, working with facilities and operations, managing conduct cases and holding judicial conferences with students, and, of course, the administrative piece that comes along with it all.

Summer Staff from Christine's InternshipIt’s sort of serendipitous that I find myself in this position, and that I find myself enjoying it so much, because when I started graduate school at Western Illinois I was definitely one of “those students” who was very “anti-housing”—I had always heard it was very time demanding, that it was difficult to maintain a work-life balance, and that I would constantly be responding to conflict and crisis situations. I ultimately decided that I wanted to take on this internship for three reasons: I wanted to gain experience and develop skills in areas I had no previous professional experience in (what better time to do it than the summer?), I liked the idea of supervising a staff and having the opportunity to build continued relationships with students, and I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it.

I am now six weeks into my internship and I can confidently say that I am really enjoying my experience; while there are definitely aspects of my job that I am not 100% in love with (i.e. transporting students to the hospital in the middle of the night), I would not trade my experience for anything. I’ve had the opportunity to develop skills in so many different, and new, areas and I am learning a lot about myself as a person and as a professional. I find myself happy about the work that I do everyday, and am still spending time reflecting upon whether that’s because everything is so new or because residence life is an area I could see myself pursuing as a career. Perhaps it’s a little bit of both.  

For me, taking on this internship was definitely a risk and I will admit I was not sure I would be able to do it, that I would be able to do it well, or that I would enjoy it. Everyday I’m so grateful because I’ve been pleasantly surprised at what an amazing experience it has been. Throughout my search process and now my actual internship experience, I have learned the importance of a few things:

 summer internship staff photo

Taking risks and putting yourself outside of your comfort zone . In the past couple of months, I’ve found that it was in these moments that I’ve experienced the most growth both personally and professionally.

Being reflective. I’ve spent a lot of time throughout my internship thinking about what I do/do not enjoy about my position, what I do/do not enjoy about the institution I’m at, and what I do/do not enjoy about those that I work with whether that be colleagues, parents, or students. Through asking myself these and other similar questions, I’ve started to develop a better idea of what I’m looking for in a work environment and in a career, and I’m excited about entering into the job search this upcoming year with intentionality.

Keeping an open-mind. This one is pretty self-explanatory, but what they say about “you never know until you try” is true. Even if you don’t think that something/someone is for you… experiences can surprise you, and people can surprise you. Keep an open heart and open mind and serendipity may find you.




Check out the latest happening of the alumni, students, and faculty of the WIU College Student Personnel Program. Pick your favorite way to keep up with fellow alumni, the CSP program, and the new faces of student affairs!  


Alumni Updates                          

A portion of the College Student Personnel Program webpage is dedicated to alumni including updates on classmates,  the program, and faculty.


Western Illinois University College Student Personnel Alumni & Friends                           

This Facebook page is a forum for alumni, current students, and friends of the Western Illinois University College Student Personnel Graduate Program to connect, share information, and seek advice.


Explore Student Affairs with the Western Illinois University Facebook page                    

This Facebook page engages prospective students in conversation with members of the Western Illinois University College Student Personnel community about the field of Student Affairs, the graduate school search process, and the WIU CSP graduate program.


Summer Institute         

Each year, WIU hosts a gathering of student affairs professionals to provide a gathering place for old and new faces as well as an opportunity for professional development. The workshops and discussions focus on changes in student affairs, remaining current, and building relationships.