Internships can be associated with young college graduates and/ or those with minimal to no professional working experience. I would argue the case as I believe they are a great way for veterans to try a new organization out and see what other roles might better serve their interest. Sometimes the job that you have done in the service is not necessarily the job that you want to do when you get out. This can be a challenging barrier for veterans to overcome as they translate their experiences in order to align with their desired roles. Internships have often been overlooked by those with professional experience as it seems to be ‘below their status’. A common concern is that most internships do not pay. So one might ask, why would I want to work for free?

Several years ago, I returned from my final contract overseas when I realized that I wanted to experience something different in my career. I wanted to continue to work alongside law enforcement but in a different capacity. I was very curious about legislation and the judicial system and felt a calling for more exposure in their world. I decided to look into legislative internships and found an opening at a local state senator’s office. I submitted my application, interviewed for the role, and became an intern. During my time in office, I was able to gain an eagle’s eye perspective on all of the areas of the office that interested me. Better yet, I was able to volunteer in any area that suited my personality and which I enjoyed. Naturally, I was drawn towards veteran advocacy and presenting awards to members of the community.


Internships are not going to be an option for those who don’t have the means or time to work for free (or reduced income) and have the patience to trust the process. In my case, I needed a job and was tirelessly seeking employment but nothing was working. Instead of pushing through the endless cycle of filling out job applications, sending follow-up emails and attending networking events, I chose to be an intern. I felt that my time was best served when I was in a position of service – even if it was as an intern. The fact that it was not a paid position really didn’t bother me too much. I came into the role with a strategic vision in mind. I knew that it was a great place to learn from a cadre of high caliber folks and serve the community in a new way.

What was great about the internship was the freedom to work within any department that I chose. I was able to attend many live events, articulate and present awards to the community and speak on behalf of the veteran constituents. The icing on the cake was the network and feeling of self-worth that I had obtained by being a part of a mission while I was looking for work. The internship was a great pivot for my career as it allowed me to be of service while seeking my next opportunity. A few months into the internship, I was invited to speak on a radio show which connected veterans with employment. I was presented with an offer shortly after airing on the show. Sometimes, making a strategic pivot out of societal expectations of the military transition is exactly what you need to find what you are looking for.

Related News

Carin Richelle Sendra is a Post 9/11 USAF Veteran that served both in active duty as well as D.O.D security contracting OCONUS. She has spent time in both the private and public sector working within the Human Capital space assisting organizations to train and develop their teams. She has spent time as a lecturer for academic and professional development. Carin has spent several years supporting the military and veteran community while offering her unique perspective that many veterans encounter post-service. She has a Master's degree in Management studies from The University of Redlands and a certificate from Cornell University on The Psychology of Leadership.