I was an RA Intern at Columbia University

My Summer Experience
Markeshia Pressley
I was an RA for Columbia University’s summer high school program

Never in a million years did I think I would get an opportunity to live in New York for an entire summer, free of expenses, working for Columbia University.

Simply visiting New York has been a dream of mine for as long as I can remember, so when I was offered the summer internship position at Columbia, I was overwhelmed with excitement knowing that I was finally getting the chance to travel, explore, and experience the city that never sleeps. This summer has been unforgettable to say the very least.

It all started beginning with my resident adviser (RA) position here at BGSU. Being an RA last year I met and became good friends with another RA, Derek. Derek did the same internship last summer and would often tell me how it was an amazing opportunity. He encouraged me to apply for the position, and I did; however I did not truly think that I would be one of the interns selected. I was still in shock even days after being offered the internship.


Columbia University hires college and graduate students as RA’s for their summer intensive high school program. What makes this high school program stand out from others is that thousands of high school students from over 70 different countries travel to Columbia to live on campus and take select summer courses. For many of them, this is their very first time traveling to America.

One of the reasons why I was so excited is because of the RA aspect of the program. I felt well prepared because of my experience here at BGSU. I knew exactly what the RA responsibilities entailed and I was grateful that my position at BGSU had made me well qualified.

Along with being an RA, I also had the opportunity to be a teaching assistant for two of the high school courses taught at Columbia. Being an education major here at BGSU, I immediately jumped at this opportunity. I was able to be a teaching assistant for the Introduction to Trial Advocacy course as well as the Science of Psychology course.

For Introduction to Trial Advocacy, the students had to complete a mock trial and were fortunate enough to have their trial held at the U.S. District Courthouse. Our class was coincidentally placed in the same exact courtroom that the 9/11 trials were held. This made the experience so much more memorable and important.

Being an RA and a teaching assistant for this summer program was easily one of the best parts of this entire internship. I was able to interact with and help teach students from all over the world and I truly felt like I was making a difference in their lives, no matter how small.

A typical day for me as an intern included going to the first session of class during the morning, having a lunch break, and then going to the second session of class in the afternoon. Once the evening came and classes were finished for the day, the RA’s were able to run field trips for the students


Running trips was a huge component of this internship because the high school students had traveled to Columbia from all over the world specifically to explore and experience New York. Because of this, it was up to the RA’s to facilitate and carry out pre-planned field trips. All of the interns would often plan fun and exciting trips such as concerts, New York sight-seeing, Broadway musicals and plays, food/bakery tours, comedy shows, unique exercise classes, and nearby college tours.

Facilitating field trips was easily one of the most exciting aspects of this internship because Columbia gave us the freedom to run any trip we wanted, as long as it was pre-approved. A few of the incredible trips I got to go on and help run this summer included the Colbie Caillat and Christina Perri concert, the Staten Island Ferry, the Meghan Trainor concert, “Chicago” on Broadway, trips to Coney Island, Chinatown, SoHo, Little Italy, and the J.Cole concert held at Madison Square Garden.

Aside from just the students, this internship came with an incredible staff of fellow interns. The interns were all college or graduate students from universities all over the U.S. Being the only intern there from BGSU, I got to know and become close to many other interns from various other colleges including New York University, University of Virginia, Florida State University, and the University of California-Los Angeles. It was amazing to be able to get to know so many different people who all had different majors and different backgrounds. I’m truly thankful for all of the amazing people I spent my summer with.

After completing this internship, I knew that a part of me was truly changed. I was able to chase my dreams of traveling and exploring one of the greatest cities in America while having the time of my life and making memories that I’ll keep with me forever. New York definitely has a huge piece of my heart and I’m counting the days until I’ll be able to go back to the city that never sleeps! 

Updated: 12/02/2017 12:48AM