Whether you have just joined the Barger Leadership Institute or have been a member for semesters, I encourage you to take advantage of the opportunities and grants that the BLI offers because they create that connection for amazing things to happen. It has been almost a year now that I learned of a really special access opportunity for the Institute’s first international trip to London, England. The moment I heard about this, I knew I had to apply. I mean, how could you take up the opportunity of a lifetime to spend your spring break to go abroad, to a city like London, to explore the city and to connect with Michigan alumni there. However, I learned that there was a very selective process of only eight students allowed to go. I almost hesitated in applying-knowing how competitive it was, what are the chances that I could get it?

            My gut was telling me that I had to apply, because I would regret it if I did not apply I would had never known if I could have gone on the trip. Thank goodness I did apply because I ended up being one of the eight students to picked to go! I could not believe it either. It is funny too because before the school year started, my dad kept on reminding me to renew my passport. I was wondering what could possibly happen, where could I possibly go? I am glad I did because I ended up needing it not only once but twice this year--more on this in a little bit.

        During the eight days in London, there was a day dedicated to each student shadowing a different organization for the day. Each student was paired up with alumni all throughout London, where I and another student were placed all the way up in Manchester (“the London of the north”). We took a very early three-hour train ride to visit the National Football Museum. I confused why this was my placement of all the options for the shadowing day. I knew nothing about football (American soccer) on the international scale. However, I kept on telling myself to be open-minded and excited for the unknown throughout this trip-because you never know what could happen. So, we arrived in Manchester and met with the staff there. I ended up loving it. I thought they had phenomenal programs and outreach efforts, and the museum itself was mesmerizing and well-crafted. I was buzzing afterwards. I wanted to share how great the shadowing opportunity was with the rest of the students of the trip and hear about their experiences as well.

        I had been informed shortly after that they offer an internship position each year, partnered with Michigan’s LSA Opportunity Hub and I should consider applying. I recalled seeing this internship posted on the Hub’s newsletter but doubted the possibility of getting the internship. I knew little about soccer on the professional level, so I was sure that there were other candidates that could offer more than I could. However, since the shadowing opportunity, I reconsidered this. After landing back in the States, I quickly applied, making sure my resume and cover letter were top notch before submitting. I was excited and had high hopes since the Museum had met me in person but was still nervous about the result. I then received the email that said that I got the internship! I could hardly believe it. I was so fortunate that both the London Access Opportunity and the internship with the National Football Museum happened, and even in the same year.

        Next steps following the confirmation of getting the internship was the application for the visa. I had never studied or worked abroad before, so I did not know what this process required or how much it costs. After learning about how expensive it was, I applied for a small grant through the Barger Leadership Institute. The grant went through and I was able to carry on with the visa. There were many stages and a great deal of patience required for getting this visa carried out. After spending practically two months working on it, I was proud to have received that passport with the newly stamped visa in it. I was so proud of myself and what I have accomplished. Next was jumping on a plane to Manchester and spending six weeks exploring England, learning about “the beautiful game”, and meeting some of the nicest people. The staff were so welcoming and willing to show me around their city, I could not have asked for a better place to have an international internship.

        I really do need to thank the Barger Leadership Institute and the LSA Opportunity Hub for opening the doors to allow me to not only go to London for the international Access Opportunity but to also go to Manchester for the internship with the National Football Museum. I will never forget about either of these experiences as BLI and the Hub were so crucial for allowing this to happen. I also want to thank the staff of both organizations and of the Football Museum for all the support as well. I really could not have done it with you! Maybe I will be adding another stamp to my passport sometime soon… Stay tuned!

Jessica Selzer