Alumni Spotlight: Nick Bartolotta


What originally inspired you to intern in Uganda with FSD?

I was approaching my final semester in university and knew the summer would be my last three month period where I would have complete freedom before a career, house, or family might prevent me from spending so many weeks abroad. So I knew I wanted to travel overseas. I also had a keen interest in visiting sub-Saharan Africa, as I had never ventured near there. At the same time, I wanted to continue to supplement my resume with an internship or some form of volunteer work, rather than just traveling around for the summer. I came across FSD and after reading their philosophy on development, I was sold! Uganda and Kenya are both countries FSD has programs in which are in sub-Saharan Africa, and I chose Uganda because it seemed more obscure and untapped to me.

Describe your day to day activities as an intern in Uganda.

Every day in Uganda was so very different, it's hard to describe anything close to a typical day - but that is what made it so special! I was usually able to ditch the alarm on my phone because the hens and roosters would wake me up just after sunrise. I would get ready for work and spend time with my family while eating breakfast as they prepared for the day as well. At work, I was usually one of the first to arrive and got started on whatever project was on the front-burner while also preparing for any community visits we had scheduled that day. Returning home in the early evening I would spend time chatting with my family, playing with my nephews, and watching the local news or TV soaps like The Hostel, Don't Mess With An Angel, or Marimar...all of which had me completely hooked! Nearly half the time our power was out either due to equipment failure or load shedding, so on those nights (which I actually enjoyed more without the distractions of TV) we spent a lot more time together just talking. After dinner at 10pm I turned out the lights and went to bed.

How has this experience impacted your future personally, professionally, and academically?

Personally, this has been a life changing experience. It's difficult to describe just how profoundly this kind of experience changes you and adds to your perspective, so I won't even try to encapsulate it here. All I can say is: if you can thrive in opportunities outside your comfort zone, go try this for yourself!

Professionally this has been an excellent asset to my resume. In job interviews, I can see the downright shocked impression on interviewers faces as I describe some of my experiences overseas. No matter what your career, an internship at FSD can help boost your credentials and show that you can succeed in an environment with so many hardships (whether they be language barriers, differing cultural norms, a completely new group of people you are surrounded by). What I find most interviewers or professional friends remarking is: "Wow, this is so impressive...I could never have done that!" Yes, they can and so can you. The first day overseas is the hardest part but once you make it through that, this experience will add so much value to your life both personally and professionally.