Devin Kelly ’13 had such a great internship in Leeds, England, that she ended up getting a job there. She is a youth support worker for both Leeds City Council and for a non-profit organization called Getaway Girls, where she interned in fall 2012.
Her pull overseas started her sophomore year when she studied in Germany. “Going abroad to Berlin was a life-changing experience for me. It was the first time I’d been out of the country and I traveled to 10 different countries in my five months there. I came home a different person — hungry to see more of the world, to go back.” In Berlin, she interned as a teacher’s aide in a second-grade class at the Nelson Mandela International School. She was struck by how much teachers did with students outside the school, such as going sledding and on excursions all over the city.
Two years later, as a sociology major with a minor in community youth development, Kelly wanted to become a youth worker. She studied in England, where she loved interning at a robust, well-funded city program for girls — a contrast to the part-time Girls Coalition in Rochester, where she had previously interned. She was so struck by how England uses more public dollars to support its young people that she wanted to return to work there.
“I think the most authentic youth work can happen in the circumstances where there’s the funding to allow the space and resources to actually build relationships over a long period of time,” she said, “where the young people have a space to come and go as they feel and have a voice to work on things they need, rather than one-off targeted programs that you have to deliver and meet certain outcomes. I was able to understand the balance between the two and the benefits and challenges of working within both sectors.”
Kelly said all of her experiences abroad were strengthened by the good connections her professors had with coordinators overseas. Marie Watkins, coordinator of Naz’s community youth development program, had built relationships with tutors in the youth work program in Leeds, “to ensure I was well supervised and placed in two centers that would offer me different yet equally rewarding and challenging youth work experiences,” Kelly said.