My Summer as an Intern at the Clinton Foundation

Caroline Manela, NYUAD Class of 2014, shares her experiences working as a summer intern at the Clinton Foundation.

The night before my internship orientation at the Clinton Foundation, I was skimming over President Clinton's Wikipedia page and organization's website (just in case there was a pop quiz) when I realized I didn't know what to wear the next day. I panicked: "What if everyone wears a suit? I don't have a suit! Should I have a suit? I don't want a suit!" I assured myself that orientation was a casual affair and decided on a skirt and blouse. The next day I sat through five hours of orientation in a room of 90 interns in dry-cleaned and ironed suits and ties. Needless to say, I went shopping that weekend.

Over the course of the internship, I did learn quite a lot about myself and my personal goals. I have all the respect in the world for President Clinton and his initiatives through the Clinton Foundation. I am impressed by the schedule he keeps and his commitment to writing back to almost everyone who contacts him. The highlight of my summer was probably the honor of listening to him speak and shake his hand. But after a summer sorting through his mail, being privy to private correspondence information, knowing exactly who receives an annual birthday card, and seeing the lists of gifts he receives, I have a better understanding of the cost of fame.

I have had a wonderful summer learning from and working among talented writers and people passionate about non-profit work.

Caroline Manela, NYUAD Class of 2014

At NYUAD, we all want to make a difference and be "global leaders." Some of us will no doubt become famous politicians, but I'm sure that's not for me. There are many ways to be a leader in our world, and I'm now sure I'll pursue one that will allow me to keep a lower profile.

So while I still have no idea what I'll do when I leave NYU Abu Dhabi, I have had a wonderful summer learning from and working among talented writers and people passionate about non-profit work. I've also eliminated a few options for my future career: president, vice president, secretary of state, senator, etc. And now I can consider myself a little bit closer to having an answer for NYUAD's Career Development Center the next time I'm asked what I'll do with my history major.

Besides learning how to dress myself, I discovered a lot about professionalism and attention to detail this summer during my internship in the Correspondence Department of the Clinton Foundation. President Clinton, as one might imagine, has an extremely busy schedule. About once a week, my department compiled all the letters (incoming and outgoing), memos, and speech transcripts he would need to read and sign into an organized set of folders. The letters and memos I wrote had to be perfect. At NYUAD I'd be happy to get a graded response paper back from my history professor with only a few mistakes. This past summer, a typo or omitted word felt like the end of the world!

One of my favorite tasks was drafting responses to the children who wrote to President Clinton, who cares deeply about motivating the next generation to work hard in school and serve their community. Kids as young as seven write to "Mr. Clinton," wondering about everything from the speeches he gave as president to whether he enjoys eating eggplant parmesan. Using My Life, Back to Work, and previously approved responses to children and teenagers, my fellow interns and I drafted responses and compiled them into a "Young Person" folder, which we gave to President Clinton to review and edit. He would return the letters, each with his own revisions and a personalized note, and we'd mail them off. When I think about how happy those kids must have been to open their mailboxes and see a letter from President Clinton, I forget about resume building and gaining work experience. I'm simply happy that I helped make someone's day this summer with every letter we sent.