Meet the Interns of Summer 2019



We are thrilled to introduce to you our summer interns! Riley and Andrew will be with us for 8 weeks, helping U!Shine Vienna grow and develop into a supportive organization for everyone.

The interns come from our partners at IES Abroad - a study abroad program that offers college students in the U.S. opportunities to intern at businesses and NGO’s overseas.  

Riley and Andrew will be sharing their latest insights and realisations on what it’s like to be an intern at U!Shine Vienna (and in a new country!) in our new weekly blog series called From the Intern’s Desk. So every Saturday, stay tuned!

…and if you have ANY questions for the interns, or want to say a nice hello, you can write to them over at 😉

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Hi everyone! My name is Riley Gekiere and I am one of the interns with U!Shine Vienna this summer. I am originally from Dallas, Texas, but am currently a student at the University of Missouri. I am going to be a Junior in college and am on track to graduate in December of 2020 with my Bachelor’s in Social Work. Originally going into college, I was planning on pursuing a career in nursing, but after a back injury my senior year of high school, I had to reconsider. I started looking into other professions where I could work with people or help people in some way, and that is when I came across social work for the first time. It turns out social work is the perfect fit for me!

A few general things to know about me are that I love books, coffee, and people. One thing I must do in every city that I live in or travel to is find my favorite coffee shops where I can journal, read a book (I love reading!), or meet up with friends. If you have any favorite coffee shops or cafes, send them my way! I would consider myself an extroverted introvert because although I need my alone time, I love being around people and just spending time with others, so if you want to have coffee or meet up, also let me know! I would love to meet new people while I am here in Vienna!

So “Why are you in Vienna?” you may ask. Good question! For this summer, I knew that I wanted to be abroad, but not necessarily in the traditional sense. I loved the idea of working internationally in the social work field, but I had no clue how to make that happen. I ended up finding an international internship program that ended up connecting me with U!Shine Vienna, and it was a match made in heaven! I have been interested in the mental health field for a few years now, ever since I started my journey with mental health. During my junior year of highschool, I was diagnosed with major depressive disorder and an anxiety disorder. Ever since then, I have felt a passion for mental health awareness and wellness overall. I was drawn immediately to U!Shine Vienna after talking with Holly and Michelle because of their vulnerability, strength, and passion for people and mental and emotional health.

I don’t think it had hit me yet that I am living in Vienna until I came into The Social Work HUB on Monday. As I start my summer with U!Shine Vienna, I have been thinking about what I want to get out of this summer and I came up with a couple things. First, I want to gain an expanded knowledge of mental and emotional health disorders so that I have a strong foundation of knowledge when talking with people here and back home. I also want to gain experience working directly with people here and attending the events that U!Shine Vienna has planned so that I can see how working in this field in the future could look. Overall, I just can’t wait to grow and learn this summer as I play a part in how the whole U!Shine Vienna team works to change the stigma of mental and emotional health here in Vienna and beyond.

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Hey there! Servus! Grüß Gott! My name is Andrew Essig (yes, Essig as in the German word for vinegar!) and I am super excited to be working with U!Shine Vienna this summer! Here’s a little about me:

I am 20 years old, coming out of Denver, Colorado where I had been living for the greater part of 18 years until flying up to Portland, Oregon to attend school at Lewis & Clark College where I study psychology. My goals with my studies is to hopefully become a counselling psychologist, interpersonal therapist, and/or couples therapist. Currently, though, I am in between my sophomore (second year) and junior year (third year) and am looking forward continuing my travels this next year with my junior year abroad in Spain!

When I’m not studying you would most likely find me out and about adventuring (or mis-adventuring) with friends, listening to or playing  all sorts of music, enjoying a good film, going to concerts, dancing at clubs, and finding peace and wonder in nature.

I came here to Vienna with the desire to be immersed in another culture while connecting with its inhabitants on a personal level and I felt, and still feel, that Vienna is wonderful place for that. Given that I have been to Austria and other germanic countries before, Vienna allows for some familiarity. At the same it allows for the exciting experience of visiting a new city as I have never been here before, and because of this a whole new social scene is set out before me to dive into. While here I am super excited to partake in community events, concerts and nightlife, and when not doing that I look forward to taking in Viennese arts, history, and cuisine.

I came to U!Shine Vienna specifically from this place of wanting to reach out and connect with people in a meaningful way while also utilizing my passion for mental health and wellness and promoting that in others. The whole reason why I got into psychology was because my own journey with mental health. With my life experiences, my experiences with anxiety and depression, and my healing process throughout all of it, I feel like I have garnered a deep sense of compassion with other people and their struggles, wanting to help in a very real way. Here at U!Shine I feel like this is a good opportunity to use that compassion to fuel a positive impact on the community in positive way.

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