This past fall semester I interned for a local non-profit organization known as International Sanctuary. International Sanctuary is a world-wide organization with locations in India, Uganda, Mexico, and Orange County. Their mission is to take victims of human trafficking and give them another chance, to help them recover from the injustice done to them, and help them get back into the workforce. The sanctuary does this through providing a variety of benefits, ranging from financial assistance, counseling, and employment. International Sanctuary also sells jewelry made by the women to support these programs and pay them wages. This is how International Sanctuary is different from many other nonprofits. Rather than merely a percentage going to the actual cause, all of the money goes back into the Sanctuary to support its programs and pay the wages of the survivors who make the jewelry. This is possible through the amount of volunteers at the Sanctuary. Despite it being a global organization with locations in 4 countries on 3 continents, there are only twenty people on payroll, aside from the girls who make the jewelry. These survivors who make the jewelry are employed through the Sanctuary’s social enterprise, known as Purpose Jewelry. This is where I completed my internship this semester.

My job description was brief and I wasn’t sure what to expect as the “Research and Fulfillment Intern”. During my time there, they educated me on the human slave trade through documentaries on slavery both in India and Orange County. In regards to research, I was assigned to gather information that assisted in the understanding between the cultures of the other sanctuaries locations. As a communication student with a cluster in intercultural studies, a job like this was exactly what I was looking for! The topics I researched included how Americans differ from others in the global workplace and how different cultures cope with trauma or traumatic events. I also gathered information on cultural resilience.

The sanctuary requires each intern to participate in at least two events. These events are generally at boutiques and involve transferring product to and from the event, setting up a stand, and selling to those who are interested. In the case of Purpose Jewelry, you’re not just selling the jewelry. You’re also selling the cause through educating people on what Purpose does. Research and events accounted for about 30% of my responsibilities. Most of my time was spent working on fulfillment. Using programs that I was trained in, such as stamps or shopify, I would go from seeing the order being placed on the website, gathering and inventorying the order and, finally, shipping it myself. Occasionally, I worked in customer care and would ship replacement items that broke in transport or check in returned items. On the surface, this portion of the job might not sound as exciting as researching cultural coping mechanisms or educating myself on global issues. However, I feel I played a key role that allows nonprofits like this to exist. I took pleasure in moving and sending out each handmade piece of jewelry and knowing that I was helping the survivor that created it to have a better life.

Where the many volunteers would sort through batches of jewelry

Overall, the internship provided invaluable experience that I’ll be able to carry into future careers. I gained general experience that comes in a real world working environment such as the retail, sales, and distribution aspects (hint: for students whose internship will be their first job, this is insanely helpful!). It has also allowed me to get a headstart in a career field that I wish to further pursue! Working within this environment was a fantastic way to see how a nonprofit works from the inside. Participating in the events also allowed me to put my communication skills to work and practice educating customers about the slave trade.

Reflecting on the experiences that this internship provided is one of the many moments in my college career that makes me look back proudly on my decision to come to Chapman. Specifically, I value going to a school that pushes their students to have experiences that they wouldn’t have otherwise. Chapman provided the tools such as the Career Development Center Job and Internship Portal (Handshake) to find an internship that I otherwise wouldn’t have even known about! In the end, I enjoyed working for the organization so much that I ended up going over my max 120 hours, and I hope that I can work with them again in the future.