Freja Ingelstam, junior international relations and history major, spent the summer in Washington, D.C. as an intern for the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC). This organization works to expand economic opportunities and campaign for economic advancements for LGBT people.
Ingelstam discovered this opportunity by chance. She was in D.C. with her mother for a weekend early in the spring 2015 semester. They had dinner with a friend of her mother’s who works with the NGLCC, who mentioned the internship. This is what both initially sparked Ingelstam’s interest and put her in contact with the organization.
“I was very lucky to have those connections,” she said.
Knowing this particular connection gave her the chance to visit the office that same weekend and get a feel for the organization’s working environment.
The location was enough to attract Ingelstam. She thinks of D.C. as a possible home in her future. She was also drawn to the fact that the NGLCC is focused on women’s and LGBT rights in the economic sphere, an area of business she considers to be important.
After an initial interview, an official application and a follow-up interview, Ingelstam was accepted into the internship program. She was able to stay with family in the area, which meant that she would make a 30-minute walk to work every day. She noted that this is not particularly long for a D.C. inhabitant.
Ingelstam worked as the Global Programs Intern. Her day-to-day tasks were focused on organizing communication with international constituents, largely based in South Africa.
Another large part of her work was research-based. She was tasked with looking into the economic positions of members of the LGBT community in the countries with which NGLCC works.
Ingelstam said that she gained a lot from both the office work and the people she was surrounded with throughout the program. She felt most rewarded by the culmination of a large project that was part of a conference in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
“A lot of the work I did towards the end of my internship in D.C. was towards the conference and being able to see the results of many intense weeks was a great ending to the summer,” she said.
She also faced challenges, but she explained that they were ultimately helpful to her professional and personal development. This was particularly the case with finding the most appropriate way to communicate in a professional setting, something on which she is still working.
“The way we communicated within the office was different from how we reached out to constituents. Being able to talk and write professionally is a great skill, and I’m still getting better at it,” Ingelstam said.
Ingelstam hopes to return to the NGLCC this coming summer as a fellow and is still in contact with many of the connections she made through the organization. Her time there affirmed her interest in women’s and LGBT rights organizations. She also became more interested in D.C. as a potential area for graduate school and even a permanent living location.
“After spending a summer living in D.C., I can definitely see myself there in the future,” she said.