Fusing Culture With Career

Landing an internship that allows a student to grow their skill set, connect with industry experts and become workforce ready is ideal, and sometimes difficult to come by. But finding an internship with the aforementioned qualities, as well as the potential to contribute to a greater, altruistic calling—that’s the needle in the haystack.  

Luckily for Advertising Creative junior Nicole Segura, she found that needle during her time with More Than Bootstraps, a charity organization devoted to guiding first-generation students through the college application process. 

“I work for MTB, primarily as a graphic design intern,” Segura said. "It’s a nonprofit organization that’s dedicated to first generation and underrepresented students. What we try to do is give these students access to navigate and succeed in higher education. We provide peer mentorship, a lot of financial literacy workshops and workshops with parental engagement.” 

Throughout her remote summer internship, she created social media posts, edited promotional videos, designed graphics and contributed to larger projects—all while collaborating with prospective students.  

“I like to socialize a lot, and MTB definitely allows me to do that,” she said. “I’ve been able to work a lot more with the student leaders this year. Gaining their perspectives on what it means to be a first-generation student, it’s very insightful.” 

Segura originally started as a volunteer, built up her credibility with her employer and was eventually entrusted with a paid position.  

“At that time, I’d only had one or two actual interviews ever,” she said. “From a business perspective, if I see someone that’s just starting out without much experience, that’s a leap of faith. It takes guts. Through the time I’ve been with them, you can definitely see progress in both of us—them as an organization with how much they’ve grown and how I’ve grown professionally.”   

Perhaps part of that trust, Segura mentioned, can be credited to her background and personal connections to the organization’s mission. 

“Technically, I wouldn’t be a first-generation student, but I do fall within that realm,” she said. “Although I originally grew up in the states, I also grew up in Peru. Going to school, I didn’t have any relationships with the U.S. government, nor schools here. When I was applying to schools here, I had no guidance at all.”  

Segura’s supervisor has given some of the counsel she felt she lacked before, which has been one of the most significant aspects of her internship.  

“As long as I’ve been interning, they’ve given me a lot of resources,” she said. “They go beyond work relationships, and that’s the most impactful thing about working with them. Aside from helping other students not go through the same thing—because it’s horrible—it’s very nerve-wracking. They’re helping me grow in ways that I couldn’t imagine, aside from what I could do creatively or professionally for them.”  

Segura’s biggest takeaway from the internship is her appreciation, both for her career and skill development and for the full circle experience MTB has given her.  

“The first thing that comes into my mind is gratitude,” she said. “Coming back to that personal experience, definitely what they’ve been able to give me, both as an organization regarding connections and experience, but more on a personal level. I have gratitude for all of the doors they opened for me.”  

Segura’s ultimate career goal doesn’t stray too far from her current position. She aspires to do diverse marketing, represent her country and merge her cultural identity with her ambitions. Fortunately, along with her skill set, that strategy already seems to be working for her. 

“I did mention my background to them, and I think that sparked something in them,” she said. “It definitely sparked something in me.”  

By Stella Govitz