What is an internship?
An internship is an official program offered by an employer to potential employees. Interns work, sometimes without pay, either part time or full time at a company for a certain period of time.
By Kaitlyn (Katy) Brennan
To my friends and family, I am affectionately known as a “workaholic.” Checking my email more than my texts, working hours upon hours a week, and even bringing my computer on winter break, I have definitely earned this title. The difference between my work and many other workaholic’s though, is that my work is advocacy. The reason I work so hard is that there is always more work to be done.
Becoming ill so young, I never expected to be where I am today. At the time of my diagnosis, I expected to progressively deteriorate and never really live up to my full potential. While what I considered my “full potential” to be has definitely shifted, it feels much more attainable now.
The summer between my freshman and sophomore year, I published an article to The Mighty. An act of throwing caution to the wind quickly turned into a habit as I have now published over 80 articles. While this writing was originally for me — for my sanity — it quickly turned into an act of resistance and advocacy that I hoped would empower others.
The next “step” in my advocacy came that same summer when I began to intern for a local political campaign. Making calls, walking doors, and promoting this congressman gave me a new angle to my advocacy: legislation. I became addicted to working for congressmen and politicians that I believe in, and I have not stepped out of the world of politics since.
The next year was a complete whirlwind for me. I gained two new diagnoses, lost my grandfather, and definitely lost my direction a few times along the way. Yet, my constant was always my advocacy. I continued to write, speak, and make visual content for anyone who would read or listen to my story. Eventually, I ended up working for two organizations, Suffering the Silence and Sayfty, publishing their social media content and promoting their platforms.
Since then, my passion for advocacy has continued to grow, and so have my internships. Never once has an internship been for the resume or for my personal gain, my goal has always been to help others. I realize that my pain and fatigue will never truly go away, but that does not mean that it has to be a negative force in my life. My chronic illnesses have become a motivator in how I live my life. I write to help others. I intern to help others. I live to help others.
So, yes, I do accept this title of workaholic, but I do not consider this to be a bad thing. My work will always be for the advancement of society as a whole, and I will always be proud to identify as a writer, a speaker, and an advocate.
Advocacy takes work and time. Walking doors, writing as much as I can, and furthering my voice will always drain me. I cannot count on my hands how many times I have wanted to give up and just wallow in my illness, but it always come back to my internships. They both drain me and motivate me. Ultimately, they aim to help everyone around me and that will always be the driving factor in why I intern.
Kaitlyn (Katy) Brennan is a high school student diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome and associated conditions. Despite becoming sick so young, she has made it her mission to advocate for others in her position and to spread as much awareness as possible through writing and speaking. You can find her other work on The Mighty, Al Jazeera, The Odyssey, and more.