Meet Sara McInerney

Ball State alum, community engagement specialist at the Finish Line Youth Foundation, Ball State Graduate of the Last Decade Award, 2016 Serve Indiana Award for Excellence, two-time TedX speaker

Hometown: Griffith, IN

Financing dreams: “I was a 21st Century Scholar. I come from a super small town, and [the scholarship] gave me the freedom to go to an in-state college and move away from home. I would have a much different life without this scholarship. I studied in Ireland for seven weeks between my junior and senior year as part of a BSU internship program. I took out a loan for that. Although I was hesitant to take out a loan, that experience was awesome to me. It taught me how to be comfortable being alone in a place where I’m not exactly sure where I am. It opened my eyes to a lot more and [showed me] that the world is a whole lot bigger than Indiana and the US. Don’t be afraid to take out a loan responsibly if there’s something you want to do that’s smart. This is the time for you to explore.”

Job vs. internship: “I graduated from Ball State in May 2014. The world outside Ball State scared me. I had worked really hard to apply to a lot of places, and I was getting turned down for jobs I thought I would get. Then I was offered a full-time position to be a marketing specialist. On the same day, I was offered a three-month internship at the Finish Line Youth Foundation.”

On taking risks: “I thought, ‘What if I don’t like the internship? What if I passed up this job opportunity and I’m not offered another one?’ My best friend said, ‘Life is too short to do something you’re not passionate about.’ It came down to remembering we are never guaranteed a tomorrow, and I knew in my heart I wanted to be working for the Youth Foundation, which is bettering our communities. I took the risk, knowing there was a high possibility I wouldn’t have a job in three months. It was the best calculated risk I ever made. I networked like crazy in the office. At the end of my internship, a job became available in another department, which I took for nine months. Finally, the Youth Foundation did have a position open in June 2015, and I’ve been working my dream job ever since.”

Advice: “Life is short; take advantage of opportunities. Do more of what makes you awesome. If you think, ‘I could never do that,’ stop yourself and start asking, ‘Why not me?’ And always follow your passion over paycheck.”


Top five crucial skills for interns

As ranked by employers in a 2017 survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers

98.7% Information processing

94.9% Teamwork

89.7% Planning/prioritizing

89.7% Decision making/ problem solving

88.5% Verbal communication