I remember working as a young journalism major and intern very clearly. Being the least experienced person in the room is a humbling and intimidating experience. I spent hours panicked about appropriate office attire, praying that the damage I had inflicted on the copier wasn't permanent, and cursing my parents for failing to teach me how to make a proper cup of coffee. At The Vegetarian Resource Group, we do things differently. We want our interns to get involved with the aspects of vegetarianism that are interesting to them. When they manage to take control of their own learning, and truly dive in, we see impressive results.

When working with interns, I try to remember what was important to me when I was in their shoes: having things explained clearly, being treated with respect, working on something that interested me, and of course, having a little fun, too. The fun part comes easily: each week we receive samples of the newest vegan foods on the market, from decadent dairy-free ice creams, cookies, and chocolate, to meat-free versions of burgers, nuggets, breakfast meats, and beyond. Interns taste test and then review products, thoughtfully snacking and typing while learning about the intricacies of ingredients, communicating with corporations large and small, and writing concise copy. But we also get interns involved in meaningful work for the vegan community, sparked by their individual passions.

High school senior Anna Balfanz came to The VRG to complete a school project. She was involved in mock-trial and decided that while at The VRG, she would assist a lawyer in researching vegetarian prisoners' legal rights to vegetarian food. " I now have a much better understanding of the federal legal system, how constitutional rights and freedom of religion work in prison, and a better understanding of how to build a case," Balfanz said. Similarly, James Madison University junior Anne Custer is studying to be a dietitian, so she spent her time interviewing a vegan corporate grocery chain dietitian on how she counsels customers. Princeton University freshman Myrial Holbrook had always been interested in graphic design, so we gave her the opportunity to design a VRG recipe postcard that is now distributed at our outreach booths all across the country.

We love staying connected, so when interns are off at their next school, job, or adventure, we keep in touch. Past intern Laura McGuiness, who now attends UC Berkeley (but still does our e-mail newsletter!), recently warmed my heart in an e-mail, " VRG has changed me as a person, Samantha. I came back to California a much better adjusted, more mature young woman. I feel like I am truly an adult and VRG was the catalyst," she wrote. " I have learned to put aside my fear of approaching people and instead fearlessly engage with the community in hopes of imparting knowledge... I feel incredibly lucky that I got to do an internship that allowed me to gain knowledge of my two passions: veganism and writing."

If you're interested in interning at The Vegetarian Resource Group, e-mail a resume to To donate money to support our needs-based interns, visit or mail a check to P.O Box 1463, Baltimore, MD 21203.

Samantha Gendler, Senior Editor of The Vegetarian Journal