Name: Berit Kirkegaard
Class Year: 2022
Hometown: Kewaskum, Wis.
Internship Organization: Peace United Church of Christ
Job Title: Youth Group Development Intern
Location: Kewaskum, Wis.
What’s happening at your internship?
I’ve been working alongside leaders at my church to establish a youth group for middle schoolers in the congregation and the surrounding community. While the youth group is through my church, the goal is to build a space where all middle schoolers can gather and feel supported, whether they belong to our church, another place of worship, or are not religious at all. Of the families at my church who have middle school children, many haven’t been very active at church since before the pandemic, so much of my job involves reaching out to children to encourage them to join us for events. We’ve hosted a couple of movie nights and our most recent activity was kayaking a few miles down a river. As the summer goes on, I hope to engage the group in some outreach activities in the community and the surrounding area.
Why did you apply for this internship?
I grew up attending Peace UCC and I’ve heard murmurs of creating a youth group for years, but nothing has ever come to fruition because it requires significant time and energy to start! This internship is an opportunity to create a welcoming, supportive environment for Kewaskum youth and give back to the church and community that supported me throughout my childhood. I also applied to this internship because I have loved the experiences I’ve gained working with kids over the last few years. I worked at a summer camp for two summers and have been a coordinator for the Overbrook Art Program through BMC’s Civic Engagement Center for the past year. I enjoyed finding creative ways to engage students at Overbrook Elementary in art projects last year, and this position allows me to continue learning how to engage children in activities. It’s also an opportunity to teach games I learned at camp, which always gets kids laughing and excited to be together! This internship is providing insight into the behind-the-scenes aspects of working in a youth-centered environment, which I am hoping might help me discern whether it’s a career path I’d like to pursue.
What is something you have learned from your internship that you didn’t expect?
My skills making digital and physical advertisements for events have improved drastically! I’m not sure why this wasn’t an aspect of the internship that I had considered before it began, but I’ve been enjoying it a lot.
This internship has also been a great opportunity for me to learn how to manage my time. Other than a couple hours of meetings per week and events with the middle schoolers, my work is completely self-scheduled. At first, I was a bit overwhelmed by the idea of planning each week on my own. By now, I’m appreciating the flexibility because it has allowed me to create a routine of watering my garden in the morning before biking over to church — and I don’t have to rush at all!
What is most rewarding about your internship?
The most rewarding part of my internship has definitely been witnessing the middle schoolers’ reactions and how excited they always seem to be gathered together. At the end of our first movie night, a few girls begged me to make it a weekly occurrence. Although we’ve only had a few events at this point, it’s been amazing to watch some of the quieter kids open up to each other over the last few weeks. The beginning of our first gathering was pretty quiet because many kids had never met before, but during our most recent activity it was difficult to get them to stop talking (even the kids who were especially quiet at first!). Parents of middle schoolers have also approached me to tell me that their kids are really excited about the new youth group, which makes me even more excited to continue developing it.
Visit the Summer Internship Stories page to read more about student internship experiences.