Written by Carrie Cruces
Majors: Business Honors, Management Information Systems, Plan II Honors
Position: Project Supervisor
Company: Amigos de las Americas
Topics: Work abroad, Nonprofit, Presentation Skills
Jannelly Areche is a Canfield BHP sophomore from Houston, Texas, who is also majoring in Plan II and Management Information Systems (MIS). She recently had the opportunity to intern with Amigos de las Americas in Costa Rica during her freshman summer in 2018. Amigos de las Americas is a nonprofit organization with 25 chapters across the U.S. Its mission is to inspire positive change in communities around the world by leading collaborative community development programs and cross-cultural immersion experiences typically over the summer and gap years. She felt challenged by the experience from the moment she arrived in Costa Rica, when she found herself leaving the airport with only an email of instruction on how to arrive at the Staff House three hours away. She had to backpack from one community to another every day as she worked with the local nonprofit Casa de la Juventud, which focused on sustainable projects in Latin America.
As Project Supervisor, she was in charge of preparing the community for the volunteers’ arrival and conducting bilingual trainings and workshops for them once they arrived. She visited all 50 volunteers every weekday to provide emotional and health support and to monitor their progress in the community-led project, stepping in to assist with problem-solving when necessary. On the weekends, she would lead camp retreats to different communities around the province, which consisted of working on projects and engaging in workshops that the community would choose. “My favorite part of the program was the weekends,” she shared. “It encouraged a blend of cultures because each participant needed to invite a local youth from their host communities to join them.”
Jannelly credits her freshman honors classes with preparing her for this internship, particularly the professional communication class (B A 324H), which developed her communication and presentation skills. She says she constantly used them throughout her internship when speaking to community members and leading meetings. B A 324H provided her with the opportunity to practice presenting constantly, which boosted her confidence when speaking in front of an entire community during a large community dinner.
Jannelly offers the following advice for current and prospective students: “Coming into this large university, it can be daunting to see all of the different paths you can take. Especially being in a business school, you might feel pressured to get an internship in the corporate world. While it is great to get business experience, it is not necessary. In the words of Marie Kondo, you should choose your involvement based on what sparks joy. Do not feel forced to take on a role because of how professional it sounds. Choose your involvement because of how much you genuinely enjoy doing the work, the impact it has on the community, and the opportunities for growth.”
Outside of class, Jannelly is involved in various organizations on campus, such as the Association of Latino Professionals for America (ALPFA), Student Government, Orange Jackets, and 180 Degrees Consulting, which she says help her create a positive impact in her community. In addition to her involvement in these organizations, she holds a leadership role in ALPFA as their Service Outreach Director. In this role, Jannelly hosts service events with a variety of nonprofits around Austin with the goal of encouraging ALPFA members to identify which causes are important to them and providing them opportunities to do so.