Helen with fellow Gap students at the NewseumHelen Crosby

April 15, 2019 | This is it, the last blog post as an ambassador this semester! With the dense amount of lessons learned, it’s crazy that it’s almost done - in just a few months! Reflecting on my time at AU, I realize that my key motivation to graduate early and take a gap semester was to discover a better sense of myself and career choices before entering college. Exploring the nation's capital, meeting so many diverse students, taking rigorous courses, and having an amazing internship exceeded goals in mind about discovering more about myself through others and the AU environment. As I picture myself still in high school, it almost seems unimaginable now that I am out in the world doing this program. Jumping from high school to college was such a freeing change, considering AU is so equal and enhancing. I am incredibly grateful to have been given a much more productive opportunity here doing the AU Gap Program.

Rounding off the semester at American University, a lot has happened. My family moved from Maine to Virginia, I got an internship, started taking college courses - oh, and I got a new puppy! Regardless, all of these events are incredibly important, but personally it is more the internal changes that I have found to be the most encouraging. I feel much more confident after this semester with my abilities in college and career. Just to boast a little more, I certainly know I have a bit of a “head start” on life pre-college because of the amount of enriching information I have learned, whether its educational, or in my toolbelt for my future career. There was no fear or nerves when I entered the AU Gap Program. It was all welcoming, and while we were helped with the process, it was almost like we were guided on how to figure it out ourselves. For an independent person like me, I really enjoyed this and I am glad they taught like this because it definitely prepares you for the real world-and a lot of people don’t know that!

Helen's internship site, VivSpacesLast week my international affairs class went to D.C. to the Ploughshares Fund building where we met with the President of the company, Joseph Cirincione. We also went to a day long conference at the Center for Strategic and International Studies on the Future of Statecraft with all female leaders, including Susan Rice. This is just one week of many speakers and events we have been given the chance have throughout this time. I could write a whole blog post alone on just these two events! Without doing that, the one major thing I take away from these events is that no matter your political or general opinions, you’re interacting with people who see these issues first-hand. In the AU Gap Program, we are lucky to meet people you see on the news thanks to our incredible professors.

Ending this off, my internship has been hands-on and great. This is a fun part of the program, because you get to pick something to do three days a week that suits your goals and favors whatever your interests are. My internship with Viv Spaces has been a learning experience, and I am glad to have relations with many entrepreneurs and business people that I can keep forever thanks to this experience.

The history in D.C., the fun cities nearby such as Georgetown, the incredible students and staff, internship opportunities, everything has left me beyond pleased with my experience. I can only imagine what awaits me after being part of the American University community. Goals seem conceivable, and I am much more confident in my abilities.

Blog History

Helen's internship site, VivSpacesHelen Crosby

April 1, 2019 | We are back in the grind of intern life and student life after spring break. As mentioned previously, I went back to my hometown Maine and was able to see my high school friends. The gap program provides such a great opportunity for education and work here in D.C., which is why I am happy my classmates and I jumped right back into it all this week.

My international affairs class was lucky enough to go to the State Department in D.C. and listen to the director for counter terrorism for the Americas, Europe, Africa, and more speak to us. This class is a top example of how specifically learning in D.C. provides great opportunities to get out of the classroom and see things live in action. Our speaker was extremely engaging in the foreign policy session he held on countering violent extremism. Not only did he ask us questions, but he also covered a great amount of territory on counter terrorism given the hour he had to do so. My classmates and I felt very informed after that session, and grateful we are able to have such genuine experiences like that since we are so close to D.C. at American University (not to mention transport is free with our AU UPass!).

My internship has been getting busier and busier. At VivSpaces, we recently designed two office spaces in Dupont Circle at WeWork, a coworking space. This was a great handson experience because I was able to collaborate with others and see firsthand how the process goes down. However, my internship experience varies day to day. One day I am hands on designing an office, the next doing research or finance work. It’s really incredible because I am getting the true experience of entrepreneurship.

Beyond that, I visited The University of Tampa last weekend and committed to go their for my four year college in fall 2019. I am beyond thrilled with this decision. That being said, it’s crazy that college decision day is coming up so quickly-meaning the AU Gap Program is almost completed! I will certainly miss my AU life. I am so fortunate for my experience here because I feel so much more comfortable with attending college next year, and well prepared for my future in college, and ultimately my career.

Gap Program student Helen and friends at the Italian Embassy Valentine's Day BallHelen Crosby

March 20, 2019 | It’s the last week before spring break. I’m excited to visit back home in Maine, but shocked I’m halfway done with the AU gap program. With so much to do, being in Washington D.C. for well over two months has flown by so fast. It still feels like my fellow peers and I are just getting settled in to all that awaits for us. In a sense we are, because there is consistent, never-ending opportunity in D.C., specifically through the gap program. The great thing about D.C., is that this applies to not only social activities, but certainly work activities.

Last week I went to a startup business’ meeting. While to many this might seem as a burden, or boring, to me it was such an eyeopener. There were almost fifteen business’ at the meeting that were sharing their experience with starting a business. It ranged from people with barely an idea, to people with what seemed to be far more than a startup. All the support in this meeting was incredible from business to business. The company that sponsored the meeting gave us activities to do and personalized tasks for each business that would productively improve their business plan going forward. It was really eye opening for me, an aspiring business student. Having that knowledge of what steps to take and what startups are like is really important. Who knows, maybe one day that will be me!

Overall my internship at VivSpaces has been phenomenal. I am gaining and spreading knowledge everyday. The special part about doing an internship with American University on your back is that you get feedback from your internship supervisors. You still have to take initiative and ask, but they are more than happy to give you it because you’re a student whose craving to learn and be better. It really is such a great opportunity of having that student to supervisor connection, so you gain maximum experience out of the job.

Moreover, we just wrapped up our learning about climate change in my seminar class. That alone was more useful knowledge than I have ever been taught before, so I am thrilled to jump into learning about nuclear power for the rest of my time in this class. We have had one lesson on it so far, and I am already so intrigued. I never got to learn about it in high school, so I will definitely enjoy this half of the semesters seminar. The same class that we are learning about nuclear power in, got to go to the Newseum before break. It was breathtaking. The history that is generally accessible in D.C., specifically in this museum, is incredible. That was an absolutely fantastic experience that AU and my professor was able to get us into.

In my other class, we also just had our mid semester wrap up with learning about career. It was amazing because it was a class I feel like I would never have experienced if it weren't for this program. I learned things that feel necessary to learn, but are never really taught. I was able to learn a lot about myself with our last project, where we created a storyline sort-of based off our resume, but was further than pen and paper to understand ourselves further.

I have gotten such significant real world experience with meaningful work through my internship, and have had such applicable interactive class work through guest speakers, seminars, projects etc. in the first half of my AU gap program experience. I am really enjoying American University overall and all that D.C. has to offer!

Gap Program student Helen and friends at the Italian Embassy Valentine's Day BallHelen Crosby

March 6, 2019 | Washington D.C. is such a lively city. Last week I was lucky enough to have tickets to attend the Italian Embassy Gala. It was a super experience, because not only was it fun, but it was a great place for networking. The ball was alive with so much conversation. There are many benefits to being so close to D.C. at American University, and that includes always being able to meet people who you can make connections with and get to know more about the job field you’re interested in. I feel incredibly grateful every day for activities like these that give me such memorable moments. In D.C., everything is opportunistic.

Furthermore, this week marks almost halfway through the semester. Wow, I can’t believe it’s gone by so quickly! Through classes and workshops, it’s been such a lovely experience so far. This semester we have had an abundance of speakers to give us presentations on climate change in our international affairs class. Being in the Washington area, we are lucky enough to get speakers that have actually seen policy-making firsthand. It’s been so cool to see so many different perspectives on the topic, we’ve learned so much on such an important topic that I know I’ll be able to use in my further life through education and career.

I’m deep into my internship and learning more every single day. Interning at VivSpaces is cool because it’s a start-up small business, so I’m really seeing the hard work that has to go into creating a platform for business. Not only am I seeing the hard work, but I am participating in great amounts. My internship supervisor has made me feel valuable to the company and kept me busy.

It’s also really nice because the whole idea of the company is to bring natural elements into peoples offices or workspaces so that they can be more engaged, productive, and focused. I feel like I am educating people on the benefits of biophilic spaces which is really cool. I’m gaining more writing skills and research skills that are being put to good use. It’s a topic that not many people know about, but more should. And spreading that has been a blast.

Gap Program student Helen CrosbyHalfway through the term, I have started some reflection on my experience so far. I feel completely welcomed on campus and in my internship, and I’m learning valuable lessons everywhere I go. The AU gap program markets itself explaining that it gives an opportunity like no other, by ensuring that their internships will make you feel of value, and will give you a unique experience to fill your tool belt with new vaulted skills. Looking back at my gap experience so far, I can absolutely say that’s the truth. My expectations have been exceeded! It’s crazy to see it go by so quickly, I guess that’s because I’m so busy-there’s never nothing to do in D.C.! I am thrilled for the rest of the semester!

Interior of Vivspaces officesHelen Crosby

February 13, 2019 | Deciding to do the AU Gap program was easy when I saw all of the opportunities it carried. Having the combination of learning through a rigorous college class, and learning in a professional work environment was something I couldn't pass up. While all of this is great, coming from a small, coastal town in Maine was a huge change to be in D.C. every day. Jumping into an urban city coming from a rural town was definitely scary at first.

However, in the first month of the AU Gap program, I have already noticed exponential personal growth. My gap experience was intimidating for me on the outside but has been warm and welcoming on the inside. While my peers and I scrambled around looking for internships online and at the internship fair, going through interviews, writing follow up emails, we have all seemed to settle into our internships. AU staff and supervisors were there to guide us and help us learn the whole time. The process helped me be much more confident in my abilities and taught me about professionalism. Not only has this process been one to educate me in a professional environment, but it has been enlightening to see the creative work of so many people in education and with interns.

As I started to get the hang of classes, it was time to decide where I will intern for several months. I was excited about this opportunity, but I had doubts too. Would I just be doing busy work? Would I be seen as a stereotypical intern? I quickly learned the answer to those questions were answers only I could establish.

I chose to intern with VivSpaces, an environmental interior design company. This excited me, as it checked boxes of many of my passions. So far it's been an incredible experience. My supervisor is happy to answer any questions, and cater to what will give me the best experience. What has made this experience so important, is that it has motivated me to show my passion by executing my skill set to be beneficial for VivSpaces. In other words, by stepping out of my comfort zone, I am making a difference within the company. That is a feeling that can’t be replicated.

With only two weeks under my belt, I have found that I am craving to do hard work in my internship, and I am seeing success in the future.