Instead of immediately looking for a job after graduating college, Castleton alumna Jorah McKinley took the less travelled route by finding a two month internship in Fiji after walking down the aisle in the pavilion.
McKinley was a communications major before graduating last May, but wasn’t sure what she wanted to do with her degree. After extensive online research, she came across Frontier, a company based out of the United Kingdom that specializes in sending people with a passion for journalism to work in other countries as interns.
Along with keeping a travel blog, four Fijian magazines now feature McKinley’s work, including “Mai Life” and “Fiji time,” which is the inflight magazine for Fiji Airlines.
“One of the magazines was a style magazine where I wrote about South Pacific culture, style and fashion,” McKinley said. “Style’s not really my thing so that put me a little out of my comfort zone.”
According to McKinley, Castleton’s staff and professors really encouraged her to think outside the box and study abroad.
“This is a very valuable option for graduates, especially if you can spend time in Fiji, or anywhere else in the world,” said President David Wolk.
Her communications professors were especially supportive when it came to taking an internship in Fiji rather than getting a career after graduating.
“I had always wanted to study abroad for a semester while I was in school, but it never happened,” McKinley said.
For her, Frontier gave her the opportunity she craved to go abroad, while getting paid and building her resume at the same time.
“Jorah is a shining example of a student who made a difference at Castleton before she went out to make a difference in the world, and it didn’t take long for her to do so,” said Wolk, “I’m very proud of her and I believe that more students could benefit from these life-changing experiences.”
The magazine companies that McKinley worked with sent her to other islands around Fiji to write. While traveling, she learned that Fiji isn’t just a tropical tourist spot.
“In the outside villages they live in reed huts with no electricity. They have cardboard flooring and no communication with the outside world,” she said. “They walked everywhere they went unless they could afford fuel to take a boat.”
The living situations weren’t much better in Suva, the capital city, where McKinley worked and lived with her host family.
“There was no hot water in my house and we all lived in one room,” she said. “The kids were running around and they didn’t have toys or anything. They played with sticks.”
This caused a realization in McKinley’s mind when it came to everything she had back home. Even running water seemed like a luxury.
“Coming home and being inside my house and having a stove and a refrigerator and windows that close; it makes me realize everything we don’t really need,” said McKinley.
When McKinley returned, she sent her old professors her travel blog where she talked all about the culture and her experiences working there. She also just received copies of the magazines she wrote for from the company.
Those who were once supportive of her in class seemed to be just as supportive and proud upon her return.
“I think it’s a very wise thing for a student to do and I’m sure she must have gotten that sense from us but it was really her doing.” said Bob Gershon, one of McKinley’s communication professors.
McKinley made an impression on everyone she met at Castleton, in and outside of class.
“I admire Jorah for following an unconventional path and I think she made the right decision, not just to build her resume through this very valuable internship but to grow as a person as well as a professional,” said Wolk.
It seems like whenever the communications department needed a go-to person to really follow through with a task, McKinley was the girl to talk to.
“Jorah was the best example of what great students are like,” said Gershon. “Some way or another, no matter what it is, you tell her what’s needed and she’ll just make it happen.”