Hannah Steketee '20 lived and worked in the city of Quetzaltenango, Guatemala over the summer of 2019. She interned with Caras Alegres, a non-governmental organization that provides food, after school programming and educational resources to families and children living at or below the poverty line.
“Guatemala is in the top five most malnourished countries worldwide,” Steketee said. “Caras Alegres provides the dual benefit of combatting malnutrition and allowing parents to go to work knowing their children are safe.”
As the assistant director of development at Caras Alegres, Steketee wrote grants and other documents, communicated with donors, and conducted research.
Why did you choose this internship? How did it relate to your interests in the law?
I want to work in international law after graduation, so this internship was a perfect first step in my overall career goals. I also took four semesters of Spanish in undergrad and lived in Spain for four months, so I was really excited to work on my Spanish skills.
This was not traditional work for a law student, but because I participate in moot court and the West Virginia Law Review at WVU Law, I was able to take a summer job that gave me less legal experience than others.
What will stick with you from the internship?
One thing that will stick with me is that most of the children and families the organization served were below the level for extreme poverty, so they don’t have things I take for granted, like my education and running water in my house.
In terms of skills, I improved my Spanish so much from daily communication with people in my community that I was nearly fluent when I left. Being fluent in Spanish will be invaluable to my career goals, especially for working in Europe.
What was your favorite part about the internship?
I don't think that I am proud of one specific thing, because I am very proud of all of it.
However, my favorite part would be all of the amazing people I met. I was able to spend time with the kids and even teach a few how to ride a bike, which was very exciting and rewarding.
I also wrote the organization’s first annual report, which was both fun and challenging.
What advice do you have for a first-year law student who is considering applying for international summer internships?
I would tell them that a lot of international internships are unpaid because of VISAs and budget constraints. However, I would certainly tell them to go for it. My experience was invaluable to me, both personally and professionally, and I learned skills I might not have gained otherwise. I also became more confident and independent.
My other advice would be to do what you really want, even if it scares you. Going to Guatemala, a country that the State Department says to reconsider travel to, was scary to me. But I loved it. I didn't feel unsafe once, even though I walked alone at night a lot. It was an amazing experience and everyone was incredibly kind.---
Steketee earned her bachelor’s degree in political science from Marietta College in Ohio in 2017. At WVU Law, she is Executive Research Editor for Vol. 122 of the West Virginia Law Review and captain of the Jessup International Moot Court Team.