What should I do with my life?

It’s a question I’ve asked myself over and over and the more time passes the more I feel pressure to have an answer, but the truth is until two summers ago I didn’t really know. I had ideas of things that seemed interesting to me, but I lacked real experience in those fields to be able to make an informed decision. I was afraid I enjoyed the idea of these careers more than the reality of the day-to-day happenings.IMG_5855

So, I was heading into summer vacation with a plan to work and enjoy time with my friends. But, that little question kept creeping into my mind. I caught myself wondering if there was some way I could use this time off to count for something more than just relaxation, but rather use it to bring clarity to the question glaring me in the face. I wanted to walk away knowing that I’d spent my time wisely, investing it in something that would help guide my future.

There are many internship opportunities out there – most unpaid and only allowing you to experience one industry at a time. I needed more exposure. I wanted a way to test and see which of my interests would line up with a career and be the best fit for me long term.

I didn’t want to be a part of the growing problem in our country – graduated from college with no opportunity out there to apply my degree. Or worse, come to find out that I actually don’t like doing the job I studied to do.

After much research, I found the answer – the YMCA Intern Challenge. It was started with the simple idea to give the young adult population of our city a voice and the opportunity to explore, to create, and to learn.YMCA Intern Challenge Interns

Contestants have the opportunity to stretch themselves by creating everything from marketing plans for local businesses to developing workforce development plans. My voice was heard as my teammates and I proposed real-life actionable solutions to some of our city’s greatest problems.

The YMCA Intern Challenge provides the opportunity to create mentorship relationships with some of our city’s leading executives and CEOs. Contestants learn real-time leadership and teamwork lessons all while working together to complete a common goal.

Those 8 weeks changed my life. It was no ordinary internship. It was definitely hard work, but it was worth it! One of the best things I’ve experienced is not only figuring out what I enjoy, but more importantly realizing what I don’t. I thought I wanted to be a financial advisor, but after experiencing it first-hand I discovered I enjoy the thought of the job more than the reality of it. I found that interacting with people is one of my passions and I wouldn’t be able to fully experience this behind a desk. This discovery saved me years of school and thousands of dollars in tuition payments.

This is not business school advice, this is real-world, hands-on learning.

What could your life look like one year from today?

What kind of clarity and discoveries could you make about yourself?

What kind of opportunities could present themselves?

Now is the time to plan for the life that you’ve always wanted.

So, for those who are hungry for mentorship, leadership and training, who want a challenge and who want to be part of the solution, then the YMCA Intern Challenge may be for you. Learn more here!

Written by Andre Agosto, a student at the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point. He participated in the YMCA Intern Challenge in 2014 and now helps coordinate the program.
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