Many incredible people have passed through the VACorps internship program since we first started hosting interns in 2006. “Oh the places you’ll go” is a series where our alumni share updates about their careers and life accomplishments. In this latest post, Emily Gillespie (’09) checks in with us from Vancouver, Washington, USA where she works as a Breaking News Reporter at The Columbian. She has also worked as a crime reporter at The Statesman Journal in Salem, Oregon, and at The Gazette-Times in Corvallis, Oregon. You can connect with Emily HERE on LinkedIn. As an intern, Emily didn’t waste a single day in Cape Town and earned the well-deserved title of VACorps legend!

Emily Gillespie interview

Please give us a summary of your career to date. What have been doing and where do you see yourself heading?

Since graduating college, I have worked as a crime reporter at three different newspapers. I now live in Portland, Oregon and work at the Vancouver, Washington newspaper. I really don’t know where my career is heading – the landscape of journalism is changing a lot and so making a plan for the future is not easy, but that also makes it exciting.

What were the highlights of your internship experience in Cape Town?

The highlight of my journalism internship in Cape Town was searching for stories in a country so foreign to me. Working at the Big Issue was my first experience being a reporter at a non-college publication and it was great to interview professionals and work with an editor – an awesome way to dip my toe in the industry. 

Can you share an example of how your internship experience aided you with your career?  

Working at The Big Issue reaffirmed that I was going into a career that I was going to find fulfilling. I enjoyed every minute I spent working at the magazine – meeting the people around town and talking to them about issues that mattered to them. Journalism gives you the right to be curious and an excuse to ask anyone anything. It’s why I still love it to this day.

What’s the single most important piece of advice you’d like to give to future VACorps interns and/or those considering participation in the program? 

An internship abroad is an irreplacable experience. You get first-hand experience at a field you are interested in – which at the very least can help you decide if it’s right for you. On top of that, you get to explore a new country, which opens your eyes to different ways of living and in a much more immersive way than studying abroad. And could you ask for a better place to be? South Africa is a vivacious and beautiful country that I recommend everyone to visit – seriously if you get me talking about it, I won’t shut up. It’s a win-win. On top of that you meet fantastic people – I met my future husband through this program! I would tell anyone considering becoming a VAC intern that the simple fact that they find the idea appealing is enough evidence that they should do it. 

Any predictions for what we can expect from you in 10 year’s time?

It is very hard for me to predict where I’ll be in just a few years! I take each opportunity as it comes, so we’ll see what the future holds!