A Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: How My Dream Of Interning Abroad Was Realized

All it took was a list.


This list came out of a “dark” time in my life, a time where I, ever so melodramatically, thought my life was falling apart. Everything I knew about myself had been shattered, leaving me questioning where I was going and what I wanted to do with my life. I had just changed my major after questioning if that was the right choice. I trusted my heart and leaned on my faith in the unknown. I had absolutely no idea where my life was headed; all I knew was that I needed a new start.


One of my biggest passions has always been seeing the world.

There is a certain beauty about going to a new place, it’s a chance to rediscover who you are, to find yourself in the unknown. One of my favorite St. Augustine quotes sums up my feelings: “The world is a book, and those who don’t travel only read one page.” There is so much to be explored, to learn, and to give back to those you encounter on this journey through life.


After I graduated from high school, I spent some time with fellow classmates in Europe. I fell in love with the landscapes, the languages, and the hundreds of years of culture. I knew in my heart that I had to get back, no matter what, to see the many sights that my heart has yet to discover.


Colleen Austrian Alps

The Austrian Alps.


When I came to college, I knew I wanted to study abroad at some point.

There is nothing more freeing than leaving all that you know behind, parting from friends and family, leaving your comfort zone, and launching yourself into the unknown. Little did I know, that after changing my major, three semesters in, I would be playing a lot of catch up in order to graduate on time. I soon abandoned my dreams of going abroad for a semester.


For my new major, Hospitality and Food Management, I am required to have an internship to graduate. After browsing some possible internships last spring, I suddenly realized that I could intern abroad. I could still set sail into uncharted territory, while gaining valuable work experience. It was in this moment that a spark caught and a dream was born.


As for which country in which I hoped to intern, it was definitely Ireland. I have ancestors that come from Ireland, leading to a sense of historical intrigue. I have spent hours poring over pictures of the beautiful landscapes, dreaming of the day I’d explore them in person.


Colleen Ball State University

Hanging out at Ball State University!


Now, back to the list.

As I was doing research on interning in Ireland, I did what any over-organizer would do – make a list. I started writing a list of tips to keep me focused on my goal of getting to Ireland in the summer of 2015, just a year and a half from when I began this journey. I instantly printed out the list and stuck it to the bulletin board in my dorm room, glancing at it every time I walked in and out of the room.


“So, you want to go to Ireland? Well, you need to work HARD. You have to put a lot of effort into it. Be open to whatever. Here are some steps to follow to make your dreams come true:

  1. Imagine that you will get to go. Have high expectations.
  2. Work hard in school, harder than ever. Work ahead and don’t settle for the average. Put extra work into the next few semesters.
  3. Find a good job at home this summer. Don’t worry if it doesn’t pay well, just find a job and get a lot of hours so you can do this internship next summer and get a lot of experience!
  4. Begin networking now and get advice on international internships.
  5. Save money!
  6. Apply to all possible internships.
  7. Pray, pray, pray, pray, pray!
  8. Accept defeat, but don’t give up or get discouraged.
  9. Be extremely motivated.
  10. Keep telling yourself that you will get in.”


I saw this list every day, allowing it to motivate me on the days when I was drowning in homework, getting me through rough days, and just instilling in me a hope that anything is possible. I soon became so consumed by the thought of going to Ireland that I had convinced myself I could not imagine being in the United States at all this summer.


My research continued and one day I just happened to come across a link to an organization called Stint Ireland. After spending hours perusing their website, I fell in love. I soon talked to my parents, applied, interviewed with Aoife, and was offered the chance to work with them in order to find my dream internship. I have spent hours checking and responding to emails, in order to have one interview that led to an internship offer with Common Purpose. I am so excited to work as a Programme Intern, to get to know the city and the people, and to help out in whatever way I can, building key skills for event management.

common purpose

A year ago, at this time, I wouldn’t have believed that I would be in the position I am in today. I still feel like I am floating on a cloud and I can’t wait for the next few weeks to fly by.


If I have learned anything so far, I would say that anything is possible when you follow your heart.

As cliché as it might sound, your feet will guide you where your heart is because your heart knows what it wants. Dare to dream big, because you never know how blessed you might be when you pursue your dreams with all that you have.


I would love to say a huge thank you to everyone at Stint Ireland for their amazing help and placement. I am so excited to work with such a great organization. The support you have shown has meant the world. I am so thankful that the list led me to you.


Colleen Kinninger is a junior, turning senior, Hospitality and Food Management major/Travel and Tourism minor at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. Growing up in a small town in a small family, she went to an equally small town to go to school, dreaming of the day when she could see city lights on a nightly basis. She loves to travel, photograph the “kodak moments” of life, have deep conversations about life until the late hours of the morning, write, make bad puns, and insert song lyrics or movie quotes into everyday conversation. If you want to hear more about her life, follow her on any of the following forms of social media!


Colleen is a program participant on our “Intern in Dublin” program.

Find out more about interning abroad in Ireland here.