What I Learned as a Hospitality House Intern

Updated: May 8, 2019

The life of a college student (at least this college student) is such a fast paced, non-stop grind. Because of this, there are so many times in my life where I haven’t stopped long enough to realize how much I value certain things that I have done, and my experiences as a Hospitality House intern are no exception. Being an intern there has taught me so much, and I’m sure that statement sounds incredibly cliched to most, but it is so true that I can't think of any other way to put it. For the sake of the length of this post I am only going to dive into two of the most important takeaways, but be assured that this only scratches the surface.


The first thing I learned is the value of small acts of kindness. I feel like they are so underrated in how they can make someone’s day. On my first day EVER going to Hospitality House I remember being a nervous wreck. I was meeting Todd Carter, the Director of Development of Hospitality House, for the first time to work on a project for my social media class. I had to sit and wait in the lobby so the nervousness was probably pretty obvious to most of the people around me. After a few minutes of waiting, a man walked up to me. He was holding several colorful plastic necklaces that you can find at the dollar store in a grocery bag, and with a kind gleam in his eye he asked “Do you want a necklace?” I said yes, and he proceeded to hand me one of them in the color purple. I thanked him, and he just nodded and walked away to hand out the rest. Even though this may not seem like a big deal, it really helped ease my anxiety. To me, this reinforced the idea that even if we don’t have much to give, we should give what we can, and that small acts of kindness can be a blessing in someone’s life.


The second thing I learned is that relationships are incredibly valuable. I’m not the kind of person who likes to work in groups. I would rather sit alone in my apartment and create my own work to be proud of rather than depend on others. Even if I never explicitly said or expressed it, I feel like I had internalized the idea that working with others is a risk and that if you work by yourself, no one can let you down. I also have generalized anxiety disorder, so that plays a part in it as well. However, this internship pushed me out of my comfort zone in the best way. I developed a really strong relationship with my other interns. They were all from different majors and backgrounds so I probably wouldn't have gotten the chance to meet them if it weren't for Hospitality House. There is also all the residents I got to meet while working the front desk. I loved hearing their stories and what they had to say, so much so that I could probably listen to some of them all day. I thought that taking pride in my work would be enough to enjoy what I do, but relationships make it so much better than I ever imagined, and I realize now that they are so necessary. If you step one foot into Hospitality House, you can tell that this is the type of environment they foster, and that is a lesson I will take with me for the rest of my life.


I could probably go on for a million more years, but I will go ahead and stop there. On the off chance that anyone reads this that hasn’t volunteered or interned at Hospitality House, you need to change that as soon as possible. I promise you that it will change your perspective on the world.


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Hospitality House, a regional nonprofit transitional living facility  and crisis assistance resource center, serves seven rural North Carolina counties (Watauga, Wilkes, Ashe, Avery, Alleghany, Mitchell, Yancey) providing housing, prevention and nutrition. Since 1984, the mission of Hospitality House has been to rebuild lives and strengthen community by providing a safe, nurturing, healthy environment in which individuals and families experiencing homelessness and poverty-related crises are equipped to become self-sufficient and productive. Federal Tax ID 56-1442966