Through my internship at Encyclopedia of Life, I gained great insight into biodiversity documentation, project management, and real-life work experience. I learned a lot about citizen science through classes at Brandeis, but I had not had many opportunities to see the behind the scenes operations of a citizen science organization and learn how these organization use their platform to engage the public. Interning at EOL provided me with a great opportunity to see these things first hand and make an impact in the organization.
My favorite part about my internship was taking everything I learned in my environmental studies classes and working with a great group of people to increase environmental education and documenting the biodiversity living around us. Although just in the beginning stages, the Boston challenge that I am helping to plan will bring together people from all across the area and get people outside to observe the nature around them. Last year’s challenge was a success and I hope to continue that trend and see Boston as a front runner.
For students interested in interning at a citizen science organization like EOL, I would recommend really taking ownership of projects assigned to you and making the most out of the experience. One of the great things about working for a smaller office is that there is a large opportunity to work on projects that interest you, and it is easy to communicate with different members of the team. Whenever I had a question, other team members were really receptive and helpful. Also, even though I was intern, the work that I was doing had an impact on the organization and I know it will help their current efforts. Asking questions is one of the best ways to learn on a job and the people in the office where more than willing to provide advice.
I am most proud of working with a wonderful group of Boston area organizations invested in increasing biodiversity documentation and environmental education awareness. Working with these organizations allowed me to see all the different opportunities that are available in the citizen science field and what goes behind making these projects possible. It also helped increase my confidence when running meetings and learning how a small office setting works.
Even if I don’t go into the citizen science field, I will still take away an appreciation for the Earth’s biodiversity and EOL’s mission to capture as much of it as they can. I am appreciative to have had this opportunity and the real world experience it gave me.
As a psychology major, my academic goal this summer in my internship was to expand my knowledge of developmental psychobiology and psychopathology through understanding the current state and gaps of the clinical and developmental neuroscience literature. In the weekly lab meetings and clinical case conferences that I attended, there were presentations by lab members on articles on psychopathology and current projects. I reached my goal through exposure to current research in these meetings as well as through engaging in discussions with lab members and academics. I was assigned to present a research article in one of the lab meetings, which gave me more exposure to the literature, and helped me improve my presentation skills. I thought the experience helped me grow so much that I requested to present another article, and it really helped me with gaining confidence.
Clinical assessment is a very essential part of child clinical psychology and this internship gave me the opportunity of training in clinical assessment and administering tests which is very rare for undergraduate students. I administered and scored the Wechsler Abbreviated Scale of Intelligence-Second Edition (WASI-II) to children, adolescents, and adults as well as administered questionnaires about anxiety. I definitely reached my goal through this exposure to clinical assessment questionnaires and through entering information collected from clinical interviews. I was exposed to patients with different levels of affective symptomatology, trauma exposure, resilience, emotion regulation, stress, family functioning, and executive control. Anxiety Disorders are the most common mental illnesses, and being exposed to diagnosis, learning about assessment tools, and contributing to the research for a very promising future treatment method for these disorders was very exciting and useful for my future career. Through participation in this internship I realized that I am specifically very interested in diagnosis and treatment of anxiety disorders and depression in children and adolescents.
Through administering intelligence tests, helping anxious and non-anxious children, adolescents, and adults feel comfortable, working directly with participants to ensure positive experiences throughout their participation, and through phone screens I reached my goal of improving my communication skills with people in general.
I would advise anyone who is looking for a Research Assistant internship in the field of psychology to email the Principal Investigators of labs. You should choose the area that you are the most interested in and make sure you reflect your enthusiasm about the research and the lab in your email. When you are working in the lab environment, I learned that it is very important to look for more responsibility and to ask for the specific things that you want to be exposed to. I really liked working at Yale University as an institution because they really cared about the interns in terms of supervision and in terms of becoming a part of the culture of the university. They were also very careful about patient/participant confidentiality, which made me feel like a part of a serious health care facility. I would recommend this internship and I would love to do it all over again! Thank you Hiatt Career Center for giving me this opportunity!
This summer, thanks to the Judith Cossin Berkman ‘59 Endowed Internship Fund in Social Work and the Hiatt Career Center at Brandeis, I had the incredible opportunity to travel to San Francisco and intern with Homeless Prenatal Program. I had dreamed of working with HPP for over a year, and the WOW program made that possible for me. Now that I have been back in Waltham for a week and have started classes, I have had time to reflect on my experience at HPP, so I can share that with all of you.
Before I began my internship, I established three goals for the summer. Upon reflection, I realized I did not spend much time working toward my academic goal of developing a research question for a senior thesis, though I was able to explore concepts I learned about in school through direct experience. Because my internship was focused on gaining professional experience, meeting my career exploration and skill development goals felt natural. I worked closely with the staff at HPP to provide both direct and indirect social work services. Working daily with the staff and clients at HPP strengthened my interpersonal skills and improved my professional abilities to support a diverse range of clients. After three months at HPP, I feel confident in my plan to pursue a career in social work and prepared to apply to MSW programs this year.
The most fulfilling thing about my internship was working closely with the DV Advocate team and developing strong relationships with my coworkers and supervisor. Joining a team that has been together for a long time and already has a particular dynamic can sometimes feel disruptive and awkward, but the DV team absorbed me quickly and began to feel like a (highly productive) family. Unbeknownst to me when I applied for the internship, I came into the team during a crucial time of transition. Emotions were high, as were workloads, so it was clear that my role on the team would be primarily supportive. I enjoyed the level of responsibility the gave me when assigning me tasks., and I felt especially proud of my ability to effectively organize the files during the transition. One of my favorite things about working with the DV team was our ability to have a good time even when stress levels were high by taking trips to the movies and playing games during lunch.
As August ended, so did the DV CalWORKs program, into which I poured my energy this summer. While two of the team members will remain at Homeless Prenatal after the DV CalWORKs program ends, the other two will be moving on to new opportunities, as am I, and as will the other intern. Endings are always sad, and I will miss these people dearly. I am incredibly thankful to have spent the summer working alongside them.
I originally set out with the goal of learning the Relaxation Response and being able to understand it and integrate it into daily life. However, this is only one of so many things I learned during my time at BHI this summer. In addition to learning about the Relaxation Response, through participating in team conference calls, I learned about the science behind mind-body medicine in general, neural pathways that allow RR to be effective, and best practices for utilizing RR in daily life.
This experience definitely helped to clarify my career interests. I have never before considered research as a field of interest for my career, mainly because I never had much exposure to it. Through my internship, I learned that research is not simply lab work. My particular role in research at BHI was in recruitment for and maintenance of clinical trials, and I did the majority of my work with contacting and enrolling participants. I learned that research is so much more than strictly bench-work, and that has made me more likely to consider a field in a health-related field that is more research-intensive.
My advice to someone seeking an internship in the health field is to be open-minded about the type of internship you envision yourself pursuing. In my personal experience, I had never had experience with research and I did not know what about research would interest me. I jumped into the field with this internship and I have been completely surprised about what my work has entailed. Mostly, I just did not know that the recruiting work I was doing is involved under the umbrella category of research. To someone looking to pursue an internship at BHI, my advice would be to ask lots of questions. There were many topics that I learned about through our group conference calls, especially regarding trials that had gone on prior to my arrival at BHI, so I was unfamiliar with the material discussed and the terms used. By asking many questions I caught up and feel like I had a better grasp on the subject matter at hand. (For an idea of all their trials, consult their homepage under “Conditions & Treatments)
I am particularly proud of my ability to pick up many tasks quickly throughout the course of the summer. Between the different trials that were going on and the many components of each one, I learned such a wide variety of skills. Not only that, but through careful notes and detailed SOPs which I created during my first month of working, I was able to teach other interns when they arrived. This really reaffirmed the amount I had learned, when I saw how much I was able to teach others.
That is all for my time with WOW. I am happy to report that I will be continuing as an intern at BHI through the Fall semester, so my learning is far from over! I am so glad I had the experience that WOW offered me this summer, and the skills I developed will remain with me going forward!Gianna Petrillo ’19
My final week working at Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch was as action-packed as ever. For my last week only myself and one other intern remained, so we got a lot of one-on-one time with our supervisors, which was valuable for creating a stronger network. Our last few days happened to be the days right before (and during) the first round of NAFTA renegotiations, a critical point in our summer as much of our time was spent researching and campaigning to change/replace aspects of the agreement. The other intern and I had the amazing opportunity to attend a pre-negotiation discussion with some of the top trade representatives from Mexico at the Woodrow Wilson Center (part of the International Trade Center). Called “Mexico and the NAFTA Negotiations”, the panel included an economist from the Peterson Institute, several Mexican representatives, and several people from the Mexico Institute of the Wilson Center. The event was incredibly well-attended, and we got to hear some of the Mexican prospective on the negotiations before they happened (decidedly pro-NAFTA with a hope of some modernization of the agreement). It was a very valuable experience, and I was thrilled to be a representative from my organization at the meeting and able to report back to Global Trade Watch with event notes. More information on the Wilson Center here.
The director of Global Trade Watch also held a conference call with Congressman Ryan and Congresswoman Delauro to discuss the renegotiations, which the other intern and I transcribed to be sent out to our list serves. The rest of my week was spent packing and sending out “Action Packs” to those interested in organizing in response to the NAFTA negotiations. I also was able to have lunch with two of my supervisors, which helped me connect with them more and get to know them more as people.
At the end of my internship, I felt like I had met my learning goals for the summer. I learned a lot more about the inner workings of a non-profit (and the slight chaos that can go along with it), I learned about research techniques and some basic Excel skills (which are useful for the future), I got more comfortable making phone calls and phone banking, and I learned a lot about international trade, specifically focused around NAFTA and ISDS (Investor-State Dispute Settlement, which is a problematic provision of NAFTA). I felt like I grew a lot as a part of the team and that the work I was doing really did help benefit the organization. I was also able to take charge on some of the Action Pack-ing and it was fun to be in a position of leadership. The internship helped solidify my interest in working at a non-profit, as I learned more about what it is really like to be there. It was very satisfying to feel like I was working for something that mattered, for the greater good. I realized that I like a challenge and being a leader when I can, and that it can be very good to step up and take charge. I would give a student looking to work at Public Citizen and just in the non-profit sector in general the advice to be flexible and expect a little chaos: you will end up doing a whole bunch of random things that you didn’t expect you would be doing, but it is a great opportunity to learn and grow. I am most proud of myself for keeping an open mind and learning a lot about NAFTA this summer, as well as of all of the projects I completed for the team. I felt like I was really able to help with their efforts, and I learned more about myself in the process.
I will miss working at Public Citizen (and living in D.C.!) but I am excited to go into senior year at Brandeis utilizing the tools that I learned over the summer and appreciating the clearer idea I have about what kind of work I may want to pursue. I am very grateful that WOW made this wonderful experience possible.
At the beginning of the summer I did not imagine that I would feel extremely sad to leave JVS on the last day of my internship, however, during the past week as my summer internship came to a close, I realized how attached I had become, how much I had learned, and how much I will miss working at my little office in East Boston. I feel so grateful to have had the summer that I did. When reflecting on my learning goals, I feel confident in saying that I not only met my goals but also learned and grew more than I could have imagined possible over the course of the ten weeks. My internship at JVS pushed me in many ways over the course of the summer and enabled me to be a more confident, caring, and adept person. (Below: My coworker and me during our last week.)
My feeling towards conducting new-client-assessments is a clear example that comes to mind when thinking about how I have grown over the summer. During my first week, I observed one of my coworkers while she conducted an initial assessment of a new client to see if the person was a good fit for our program. When observing this interaction, I felt uncomfortable. It seemed awkward to me to have to ask someone personal questions without knowing them. Because there were language barriers, more typical courtesies and ways of creating comfortable distance were unable to take place. The interaction was a much more blunt and boiled down version of what it could have been had both people been fluent in the same language. There were some of the question like “What are your job goals?” or “Did you attend college?” that were comfortable. As the interview went on however, the questions that needed to be asked about a person’s citizenship and work authorization status felt harsh, and asking them to choose one of the boxes in the ill-equipped lineup of “racial categories” made me cringe, but there was no way around doing this.
I did not imagine that I would ever be comfortable conducting these sorts of meetings. A few weeks later, I began to be in charge of assessing new clients and had to handle these meetings on my own. At first, it often felt strange, but as time went on I found my own rhythm, and soon it became one of my favorite tasks at work, because it enabled me to be the first person that the new clients got to know at JVS. I loved hearing their stories for the first time, understanding what motivated them to come to JVS, and having them know that I was a person they could trust. During my last day of my JVS summer, I did four new-client-assessments. It felt amazing to end my summer bringing four new candidates to the program through the task that I had once been so nervous to take on.
Working at JVS has enabled me to envision many different paths that would excite me in terms of my work and life post-graduation. JVS’s East Boston location’s partnership with the East Boston Neighborhood Health Center has been an important part of my learning and exploring this summer. While I can happily envision working for a nonprofit like JVS doing career counseling or teaching, being around medical professionals at EBNHC has given me a window into what a career in public health could look like as well. Through my internship, I got the exciting opportunity to attend a small event where Elizabeth Warren spoke to professionals at the EBNHC clinic about the work that they do and this was very inspiring to me.
My work over the summer solidified the knowledge that I want to always be working in a place that enables me to be making some sort of positive difference within my community. It has been so valuable and heartening to watch some of my clients go through dramatic life changes over the summer in part because of the support that they got from JVS and from me. It is crazy to think that clients I met at the beginning of the summer were able to get jobs during the past ten weeks because of work that I got to help with. I would highly recommend interning with JVS. Unlike many internship opportunities that students sometimes have, JVS cares about your learning and your experience working with them. If you want to work with JVS I would recommend reaching out to their HR manager, or simply going to their downtown headquarters and asking for information in person.
I am so thankful that WOW helped me have the summer that I did!
As I finish my internship, I believe I have largely met my defined academic, career and personal goals I established before beginning my internship. My academic goal was to build upon the knowledge from the biology classes I have taken, as well as to expand that knowledge to better assist me in future classes. These goals were met as all my research either built on my basic biology knowledge, such as understanding how cellular respiration works and how DNA is replicated, or new lab techniques and concepts. These new techniques include ELISA and cell culture preparation, which will be useful when I take biology lab in the fall. More so, I was introduced to many neuroscience concepts, such as the role of PPAR agonist receptors and the importance of insulin in the brain, which I will be able to apply to my neuroscience courses.
Here is a link to an interesting article about the correlation between insulin resistance and AD, concepts on which my project focused, written by my PI.
My career goal was to gain research experience and decide whether research and neuroscience are areas I am interested in pursuing. This internship provided me with valuable research experience that will make me a far more competitive candidate when applying to future research labs. Additionally, the experience of working in in a lab made me realize that while I find research interesting and would like to continue it throughout my undergraduate education, I don’t think I would like to pursue a career solely involving wet lab research. However, this experience has also helped solidify my choice in majoring in neuroscience, as it has given me further understanding of how uncharted the brain remains and how vital an understanding of this organ is to the future of society and medicine.
My personal goal at the start of my internship was to challenge myself to fully understand all concepts of my research. I feel as though I have met this goal through asking questions and feeling comfortable in being wrong in my understanding, giving me a better grasp of my research through my mistakes.
Overall, as a result of this internship I feel capable of taking on and successfully completing challenging projects. Although my research project appeared daunting and confusing at the beginning of the summer, by working through the project slowly and asking questions when confused, I ended my project with a newfound confidence in my abilities and understanding.
Here is a picture of me at the lab:
I would advise a student interested in this internship to come with an open mind and be prepared to give his or her full efforts. Additionally, this lab prefers to reteach techniques regardless of a student’s previous knowledge, so it is important not to become frustrated or discouraged by this. It is also essential to stay very organized and have full command over your topic, and quality over quantity is key.
I would advise a student interested in an internship at the Brown University Liver Research Center to come into the internship with an open mind and be prepared to give their full efforts. By personally doing so, I learned far more than I expected to and produced results, such as the raw data from the experiment, my presentation for the lab, and a manuscript of the experiment, which I wouldn’t have expected coming into this experience. Here is the link to the lab’s website:
I would advise a student interested in this field to definitely try a hands-on experience, such as working in a lab, in order to interact with the field of study in a new light that differs from the textbook experience. This allows for a new perspective and better understanding of the topic, as well as more comprehensive look into whether you are truly interested in the field.
Looking back at my internship, I am most proud of my presentation at the lab and the manuscript I wrote about my experiment. I often do not present, and when I do, the presentations are often much shorter than the fifteen-minutes I was allotted. Additionally, this presentation was on a challenging and complex topic that required me to gain a comprehensive understanding of in order to make it a successful talk. Fortunately, applying the necessary time and effort allowed my presentation to run very smoothly and I felt I was successful in conveying all aspects of the experiment to my audience. I am also very proud of the manuscript I wrote on the experiment. This required a very extensive understanding of the topic background, results, and experimental significant, and required a style of scientific writing that I had never attempted before. However, I produced an end product that was something I didn’t think achievable before coming into this experience.
My fellow science geeks, sadly, this will be my last World of Work blog post. However, rather than focusing on the fleeting nature of summers, I wish to walk you through my achievements, insights, and trials and tribulations of working in a biomedical research lab with a severe chronic pain condition. Since the age of twelve, I have endured an excruciating nerve pain syndrome known as Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS)[i]. Here, I will briefly mention how CRPS affects me, with the hopes of encouraging students living with disabilities and adversity to pursue their career passions and dreams.
One of the most common questions I am asked regarding my pain is “how?”: “how do you attend college?” “How do you participate in a research lab?” “How do you live with the pain?” My response remains steadfast; human beings (and life in general) possess a remarkable ability for adaptation, even in the bleakest of circumstances. I believe in challenging the notion that extreme adversity cannot be triumphed in some form. As you read this blog post, I hope you will view my experiences as evidence for why your hardships should never preclude you from actualizing your dreams.
A few weeks ago, I presented a poster of my summer research findings at Brandeis University’s SciFest VII [iii]. SciFest is an annual poster session showcasing undergraduate student research hosted in my favorite building on campus, the Shapiro Science Center. In this very building, I learned a cursory understanding of journal style science writing in Dr. Kosinski Collins’s (Dr. K-C) Biology Laboratory course (thank you Dr. K-C!). I only had a taste of journal diction, yet I relished the opportunity to learn the art behind science writing. Generating a poster presentation of original research presented my next learning opportunity. Thankfully, the post-doctoral fellow (“post-doc”) I worked alongside and my principal investigator (PI) were ecstatic to hear about Brandeis SciFest, and strongly encouraged me to create a poster of my summer research. Thus, I began crafting selected “mini” sections of a journal style paper, beginning with an abstract, followed by a curtailed introduction and figure descriptions of my experimental evidence. I was fortunate to receive invaluable advice from my co-workers; I passed my writing along to my supervising post-doc, asking her to tear my writing apart. I wanted her to know “I mean business” when it comes to learning. I circulated my writing amongst lab members, also gathering my PI’s sage advice. This gave me a small taste of the manuscript writing process, an essential component of every research laboratory. This process culminated in a poster, which, upon entering this summer, I knew little about. My poster explored the role of cysteine restriction in energy homeostasis, focusing on a key metabolic pathway known as the trans-sulfuration pathway.
I am immensely proud of my poster and presentation, given that my success represents triumph both over internal and external doubts regarding my capacity for achievement in the face of debilitating pain. Given that my physical disability effects my left hand and arm, I was concerned regarding my ability to efficiently learn new experimental techniques. However, with patience, I successfully completed methodologies such as Western Blotting [v], including the pain-inducing sonication step [vi]. Sonication involves “shooting” high energy sound waves into a sample containing proteins and nucleic acids. The sound waves shear DNA into small chunks, thus liberating nuclear (nucleus-bound) transcription factors (proteins) for proteomic investigation. I may have taken a few extra minutes to complete this step, but I obtained pure proteins, which I was able to immunoblot for [Western Blotting] analysis. Another technique I am proud of learning is mouse dissection. Although simpler than the microscopic Drosophila (fruit fly) dissections I have attempted at Brandeis, mouse dissection still requires significant dexterity and focus. I was concerned I would lose control over my left hand, or that the pain would inhibit my precision. However, I excelled, even learning how to excise “speck-like” structures such as the pituitary glands in the brain and the thyroid gland in the neck. I also improved upon techniques such as RNA tissue extraction, reverse transcriptase quantitative polymerase chain reaction (RT-qPCR) [vii], study design, statistical analyses, and more.
Altogether, I am quite proud of my tireless work this summer, both experimentally and regarding my pain condition. I see my work as another step towards achieving my career goals in medicine. There is an expanding pile of evidence that my pain will not write my story; I will. I wish to convey this simple fact to other students living with disabilities and adversity; you can achieve your greatest dreams and more. Although I have yet to accomplish my goal of becoming a physician scientist, I know I will get there. You will reach your goal too.
[i] American RSDHope. 2017. CRPS OVERVIEW/DESCRIPTION. Accessed on August 17.
[ii] Brandeis University. Integrated Media – CAMPUS BUILDINGS. Accessed on August 17.
Prompt: What does change or progress look like at your organization?
Change for me starts small. It’s shifting one man’s stature and expression. He’s hunched over his phone, eyes narrowed, scrolling aimlessly; shoulders squared away from me.
I get a hard profile to talk to. All stubble, snapback and tired eyes.
“Hey, how are you doing?”
“Good.” He mumbles still not looking up from his phone.
“My name is Gabriel. I work for New York Communities for Change, a local community organization that fights for affordable housing, good jobs and other issues like that.”
He looks up from his screen.
“We’re here in East New York to demand a real investment in good jobs with living wages. What do you think of the job situation in East New York?”
He shrugs. Eyes though, are scanning me and the petition I’m holding.
“Do you feel like there are a lot of job opportunities?”
“I mean…” And then it happens. He shifts his hips and shoulders so that they are squared to me.
This is the first small change.
These days I am doing field work in East New York and Brownsville to invite folks to our worker’s committee meetings. I visit Workforce 1 centers, SNAP offices, parks, housing projects, bus stops and other locations to meet local residents and talk to the them about the aims of the worker’s committee. The worker’s committee connects folks with job opportunities as well as fights for government investment in permanent job programs with living wages in East New York and Brownsville.
The first change might seem small – just a shift in posture – but hopefully that is the start of a real conversation. Maybe he will sign my petition. Maybe we will meet one on one. Maybe that will be the start of a real organizing relationship. Maybe he will come to our first meeting. Maybe he will invite his friends. Maybe he will become a leader in the worker’s committee.
Engaging one individual and bringing them into our community of activists is a profound change. Chris Chrass wrote, “Capitalism and other systems of oppression are designed to make almost everyone feel inadequate, isolated and powerless.” These systems of oppression thrive off of people feeling separated from their internal power and communal power in numbers. In this way, even bringing just one person into NYCC’s community can be a profound change.
A single worker voicing a complaint will not be able to change an institution or years of under-investment in East New York and Brownsville. However, once workers, unemployed and underemployed folks are able to come together and agree on specific demands, a number of strategies can take place to promote change. Common NYCC tactics include publishing reports, creating press conferences, rallies, marches, strikes and protests. A working relationship with the press is crucial to building public support and antagonizing bad employers or corrupt politicians.
For instance, when the #fightfor15 started in 2012, people laughed at the prospect of more than doubling the minimum wage from $7.25 to the demanded for $15. Today, over 22 million people across the country have won raises thanks to the collective power and tireless fighting of the workers and organizers behind the campaign.
Working with the Rhode Island International Film Festival has been a truly eye-opening and rewarding experience. I am going to miss reviewing independent films everyday, seeing my coworkers each morning, and interacting with filmmakers around the world! With that said, I am excited to share that I am going to be serving on the RIIFF advisory board in future, so I will still maintain a role in the film festival.
My summer with RIIFF certainly went out with a bang, as my last full week working there just happened to be during festival week! The week of the festival was jam-packed with preparing for events, hosting screenings and running the behind-the-scenes of it all. I am most proud of our Opening Night, as it was extremely successful in regards to sponsorship, attendance, and the films screened. I was elated to be present for the awards ceremony and to hear the announcement of the 2017 award winners, including the three films that were chosen as RIIFF’s Academy Award Nominee. These films are under the category of Animation Short, Live Action Short and Documentary Short.
I initially set out with three particular goals for the summer in mind: to explore Providence and greater Rhode Island, make connections in the film industry, and learn more about the marketing and creating of independent films. Throughout the summer I feel as though I made steady progress in regard to these goals, through interacting with filmmakers, meeting with potential sponsors in Rhode Island and learning about the ways in which filmmakers market their pieces. However, during the film festival itself I experienced accelerated progress and learning in all of these goals. I was able to interact with the filmmakers everyday, by attending networking events at night, ticketing their screenings and interviewing them after their films. These opportunities for building connections and fostering new understandings of independent filmmaking were invaluable. In addition, the week of the festival featured events, workshops and screenings throughout Providence, so I was able to see even more of the city in a variety of contexts.
This internship has helped me to pinpoint my interest in the film and entertainment field more specifically. After talking to so many filmmakers during the film festival, I have a better idea of how I would like to pursue my own career in filmmaking. It was also helpful to hear the many different ways in which the filmmakers got involved in the field and eventually reached their current career point.
My advice to students interested in film internships would be to search early, as more is available the earlier you inquire about potential positions. In addition, I would advise students to pursue their internship search thoroughly and creatively; often internships in the film field can be found in companies that are not typically associated with film. Lastly, I would suggest working to get to know and learn from all of those you come into contact with. For me, there has been nothing more valuable than making the most of the people and work experiences I have been fortunate enough to have!
After working at PRONTO for about a month, what became apparent to me was the level of inequality that the clients have been facing. Many clients have been part of the system for years now. One person was a client of PRONTO for almost 10 years, and is dependent on this being the food source for them and their family. What really started to illuminate this to me was a summer program that I am working on along with the Brentwood School District, where we are teaching kids about farming and nutrition. When the program started, I noticed this lack of equality from the view of nutritional education and what the kids eat. This connects well to one of the books I read in Race and Social Policy with Professor Ryan LaRochelle, Stuck in Place by Patrick Sharkey.
In Stuck in Place, the author talks about how people in urban neighborhoods overtime lose the ability for economic mobility and the ability to actually leave their neighborhoods. Oftentimes, they are stuck in these neighborhoods due to political choices and social policies that have done, sometimes with the intention to segregate people. So if someone’s parents are both born and raised in an urban neighborhood, their child has little ability to really leave where they were raised, due to factors ranging from living conditions, education, and even the people they are raised around. This idea is the reality that faced by people that live in Brentwood.
Brentwood is not an urban neighborhood. Challenges such as poverty, drugs, and violence make it a difficult to live at times. Wealthier home owners are uninterested in investing in Brentwood. People get trapped in an endless cycle of paying for rent and taxes, while not even being sure they have enough to pay for food.
With gangs on the streets, it becomes dangerous to live in the area especially for kids. Through our farm to table programs, we are targeting kids ages 12 to 14 which we know are most vulnerable. I believe teaching kids about farming and nutrition can help give them a better understanding of the world and how to take care of themselves better. From here, I hope that the kids are able to springboard into new experiences.
The idea of securing an internship was always an intimidating career step to me. Everyone has a different idea of what an intern should do, whether they should be paid, and how valuable their experience really is. I was afraid that interns were overburdened, insufficiently supported workers whose sole contribution was to carry out their supervisor’s agenda without having strong ties to the rest of the office or team. Luckily, this has not been my experience this summer at Care Dimensions.
My biggest surprise as I began working regularly in the office was that my supervisor rarely had a strict agenda for me to complete. Though this was part of my expectation of internships, my background as a full-time student also contributed to this assumption. By the first day of classes at Brandeis, each professor has spent at least half an hour explaining a three to seven page syllabus that often contains a detailed schedule for the full semester. While, as a student, I generally knew how to best organize and prepare for my academic responsibilities ahead of time, I’ve had to become very flexible in my position within Care Dimensions. In the past two weeks, I have driven to patients’ homes while shadowing a nurse practitioner; I have worked in the Waltham office and the Kaplan Family
Hospice House (KFHH) in Danvers; and I have helped on projects for four different volunteer coordinators and two different bereavement counselors in the two separate offices. Most recently, I have been working on small projects for a bereavement counselor in the Kaplan House, and that has required fast familiarity with several areas of the program used to store patient data. The tasks themselves are simple enough, but it involves a lot of data entry and modification. Though the counselor showed me how to do this, I quickly discovered that if I spent some time exploring the program, I would find a new approach that was easier for me and allowed me to finish much faster. As I fell into a rhythm and knew what information to expect on a patient profile, I occasionally found errors that the counselor could later correct. I was also happy to share a few shortcuts she hadn’t previously used, but was excited to learn and try.
Since my exposure to Care Dimensions staff and volunteers has grown to encompass two offices in the past month, I can more confidently say that people choose to work and volunteer for the organization because they have a real desire to contribute to hospice. Whenever I describe my internship to friends and family, the most common reaction is that the environment must be incredibly depressing. While it’s true that patients and families on hospice can experience a great deal of emotional distress, the nurses, social workers, volunteers, bereavement counselors, and other staff at Care Dimensions are genuine, supportive, and caring resources. During my shifts at the front desk of KFHH, I met and spoke at length with a number of volunteers. They shared the reasons they got into hospice as well as the reasons why they’ve stayed—in some cases, for up to seven years. Many volunteers got involved with Care Dimensions following a personal, positive experience with the hospice and wanted to join the team to give back to other families in a similar way. So I can’t say that my internship with Care Dimensions has been in any way negative, depressing, or intimidating; rather, the people and the cause have inspired and challenged me since day one.
Working at the Malden District Court has been a truly immersive experience. I’ve made it my personal goal to attend as many jury and bench trials as possible, and at each one, I’ve made detailed notes of the prosecution and defense attorneys techniques in opening, closing, and cross examination. Through these notes, I’ve been able to witness a plethora of styles of oral advocacy. Surprisingly, it helped me better understand how attorneys face audiences, whether juries or judges, when presented with trials.
Outside of the workplace, I’ve gotten to know the attorneys and court personnel of our office and court and talked about their experiences in law, law school, court, and lives as legal professionals. It’s been a great way to get an insight into what it’s actually like to work in the public sector as a criminal prosecutor, and I’ve felt more than welcomed by all of my peers to ask and inquire as much as I’d like.
The staff at my office are phenomenal at teaching me anything I’d like to know. So within the past two weeks, I have learned how to create redacted copies of case files, file discovery notices, and create CTU folders (I’ve included a blank picture of one here). This takes hours of time off the attorneys hands, and in the process, I get to learn about what the different components of a case file (like the elements of discovery) consist of and how they are relevant to investigation.
While I was watching a jury trial, I asked an attorney about the significance of side-bar conversations with the judge during trial. After she explained it to me, she noted, “This is the stuff they don’t teach you in law school!” At first, that statement was shocking to me, because it seemed as though court proceedings and techniques would be necessary to teach in law school, but the more trials I attended, the more I saw her point. Academic life is a wonderful way to learn about the law, master it, study case law, and become an expert in the components and contents of the law and case matters. The most representative of the difference between on-site and off-site learning can be exhibited here with this Annual Report. It contains a wealth of information, and it all becomes much clearer once you are actually in the court watching it happen. Practice and observation is where I have learned the intricate details in oral advocacy and court etiquette that make all the difference when bringing a case to trial. These hands-on experiences are what show me what makes a successful defense attorney or ADA, because the requirements extend beyond what case law can teach you. (For instance, here’s some information regarding the types of jurors that exist in the MA court system: http://www.mass.gov/courts/jury-info/trial-and-grand-jurors/http://www.mass.gov/courts/jury-info/mass-jury-system/ )
Not only has this experience taught me to properly analyze, observe, and interpret case files and trial proceedings, but it has also taught me to become a better oral advocator myself in enhancing my organizational and communication skills. I know how to present myself in court and to the public, and I’m learning how to closely read cases and spot relevant information that might be important or worth noting for future arguments. These are vital skills that will carry with me through my academic career at Brandeis and law school, but they will also assist me in all other areas of my life in my professional career as a lawyer, my personal interests in reading and writing, and my on campus involvement with student groups that aim to reach and affect wide audiences. It’s been a wonderful first four weeks, and I’m more than excited.
It has been an emotional day here at HunnyBon HQ in NYC. I am going to be saying goodbye to my mentors, Kim and Yoav, who have taught me so much about both business and life during my seemingly short time here. Excitingly, I am going to be studying abroad in Russia this coming semester, which is definitely something to look forward to.
I am excited to say that I have exceeded my learning goals for this summer, which have changed significantly since the beginning. Initially, I was excited to just start working with financial reports, but I have actually done so much more than that. I have worked on content creation and management (using photography, photoshop, and email marketing software), social media research and outreach, managing daily orders and special order projects, vendor outreach, website testing and improvements, growth strategy and data analysis, and TONS of bookkeeping. In addition to all of this, the most exciting parts of the summer were the days that Kim took me to meetings all over the city. We visited accountants, designers, and lots of companies interested in selling the product in their shops. Although I am still not sure exactly what I will be doing five years from today, working in HunnyBon’s small office allowed me to be comfortable and creative, and I understand that this is the ideal work environment for me. I also know that my work was really appreciated here, and I always felt accomplished after working hard on a project.
I believe my biggest achievements this summer included becoming more organized and being less afraid to communicate my thoughts. My advice for students who are interested in an internship at this organization or ones similar would be to breach your comfort zone and never say no, even if you are asked to do something you have no experience with. Also, ask a lot of questions, even if you think they are obvious, because it’s better to ask a “dumb” question than to make a huge mistake. Overall I have definitely matured this summer and believe I am a much stronger applicant for the job market because I am more confident in myself and my skills.
Gianna here, with a report of my second month’s adventures at the Benson-Henry Institute. This month has been a busy one, with an increase in responsibilities and a greater variety of tasks that I have been exploring.
As an update from my last blog post, I mentioned the RR sessions we hold here at MGH. I led my very own RR session earlier this month! To think I only began working here at the beginning of the summer and that I have already been trained to lead RR has been a real, tangible indicator of all the information I have gathered so far. I’ve even included a picture of me from my first RR session I led.
Two current highlights I will be reporting on in this post are my creation of hair collection packages, another aspect of our clinical trial upkeep, and my work on an abstract—my first piece of research writing here at BHI! For the hair packages, when we perform clinical trials an important part is hair collection. The hair is very carefully and securely packaged when it is sent to us, and we record the hair samples we receive before sending them to the lab for data analysis. I have learned the entire process of hair collection, including package preparation and sending, package receiving and data entry, and transport to the lab. The data that hair samples can provide us with is one’s cortisol level: a biological marker of stress in an individual. Because our clinical trials aim to reduce stress, the hair samples combined with our questionnaires that rely on self-reporting measures give us an indicator of the changing stress levels over the duration of a relaxation intervention. When I discovered all of this data is contained in your hair I was amazed! And one more interesting fact: every centimeter of hair from your scalp down accurately represents one month. So in collecting 3cm of hair, we are able to collect stress data for the past 3 months! Click here to learn more about the cortisol levels your hair contains.
Below I’ve included a picture of the hair sample kit I created—I discovered the most uniform and methodical way to create hair packages for collection was to create several in the same fashion. It begins with a large envelope which holds everything, and inside we included a blank envelope for easy return and a plastic bag with foil in which participants put their hair sample.
My other project that I am currently working on is an abstract. This is giving me a chance to utilize my understanding of BHI’s methods and objectives—to elicit the relaxation response and monitor how it works in practice—in order to contextualize and analyze data from one of our clinical trials. For a reminder about mind body therapies, which are the focus of our institute, see this site which outlines some facts about Complimentary and Alternative Medicine (CAM). This abstract will be submitted for MGH Clinical Research Day and as a future task for this internship I will create a poster analyzing and explaining the data our center has gathered. In reflecting on my initial thoughts when beginning my internship, I would say I underestimated the degree to which I would do hands-on work and create tangible products.
As I reflect on my time at my internship so far and look forward to the time I have left here, I have appreciated the atmosphere that the BHI research team has created and welcomed me into. There have been numerous times I gave updates over conference calls or offered my opinion during group meetings and I have always felt like my contributions were valued. This has given me a positive outlook on the healthcare field which I plan to enter one day as a profession, and this experience has given me a great jumping-off point. Another feature my internship has given me that differs from other work I have done is that, particularly in the context of clinical trials, there are always many tasks that go into organizing and managing the day-to-day operation, so it has been challenging to prioritize which work is most pertinent at the moment. In academic life there are more regular deadlines and there is more direct supervision over individual tasks, such as assignments and assessments. Here, though, all members of the team have so many things they are simultaneously managing that it becomes very important for each individual to learn how to juggle many small tasks in any given day. Thus, some of the skills I have improved upon most are time-management and organization, which I thought I was an expert at before. If anything, until I had to handle upwards of ten tasks in a given day for a variety of up to three or four different projects I did not realize how much more I had to learn. But the learning curve was steep and quick, and now I feel that my efficiency and organizational skills have improved exponentially. These are absolutely skills I will use in the coming academic year, both for schoolwork and in the leadership roles I hold outside of the classroom.
Tune in a few weeks from now when I will be posting my final blog post! It’s hard to believe that my time at BHI this summer is almost over!
So far, my internship at the Clinical Affective Neuroscience and Development lab has been an amazing experience. I have always loved the lab environment, a place where everyone is continually learning and helping each other grow, but this lab has a particularly great environment. Everyone is supportive of each other, the graduate students are a source of positivity and advice for the interns and the lab manager is always looking out for the interns to get more out of the internship.
It is very different to work as a summer intern research assistant compared to being a research assistant during the year. As a summer intern, I can see what a full time research assistant job would be like in terms of the hours and work that is done. I am a part of a team, and I see how, in the world of work, interactions with your co-workers are extremely important and valuable. It is different from the academic life in that you are not working for your own goals and achievements, you are working with people for a common goal. As a person who likes working in a team, I am really enjoying this aspect of the work.
A career in child clinical psychology requires a very long process starting from an undergraduate psychology degree to the postgraduate internship after your PhD. First of all, the experiences you have as an undergraduate majoring in psychology are very important. In order to be a good candidate for getting accepted to a PhD program in clinical psychology, which is what I want to do in the future, you need to have a lot of experience in the research field. This internship is giving me exposure to clinical research in the field of anxiety disorders and also giving me exposure to anxiety disorders in children. It is the most challenging lab I worked at, and I had the ability to get trained on things that will be extremely important in my future career as well as in future jobs right after college. I administer intelligence tests, trauma questionnaires and anxiety inventories. These skills will help me in my future career. Another experience that is important to have in undergrad is clinical experience with children. This internship is giving me the opportunity to interact with healthy children and children with anxiety disorders. It is an amazing chance to improve my communication skills with children and their parents. This has been one of the best aspects of this internship and I think it will give me an advantage in the future when applying to jobs.
Professor Wallace concluded ED170A, “Critical Perspectives in Urban Education” by distinguishing between social service and social justice. Social service, he said, is relief from systems of oppression. Social Justice means changing the structures that make that service necessary. However, changing systems takes time.
One thing I’ve learned from my time at NYCC, is that an effective community organization needs a balance of social service and social justice initiatives. Because social justice fights are long and drawn out, it’s important to offer social services to keep community members engaged and motivated.
Let me give an example. East New York and Brownsville are sections of Brooklyn that have been hit hardest by gentrification and years of under-investment. These neighborhoods have high unemployment and homelessness rates. NYCC has a worker’s committee in East New York and Brownsville with the long terms goal of ensuring that De Blasio’s $1.35 billion job plan results in permanent jobs with living wages and a provision focused on youth training. However, that fight will take years of political pressure and protest. In the meantime, we are partnering with job training programs like Pathways 2 Apprenticeship to help residents find jobs within a broken system. P2A does not change the system, but it provides a measure of relief.
Another lesson I learned about social justice work is the importance of messaging and controlling the narrative. Let me give an example. New York City subways are in a state of emergency. NYCC could fight this problem from any number of angles. For instance, they could focus on safety issues, delays, derailments, fare hikes, or the criminalization of turnstile jumping. However, NYCC has made a concerted effort to link the crisis to the fact that rich people and wall street are not paying their fair share of taxes. To that aim, last Friday we held a rally outside of Blackstone executive Steven Schwarzman’s house.
We linked the action with Trumps Tax Plan with the hashtag #TrumpsTaxPlan and signs like “No More Giveaways to Billionaires.” In response, de Blasio announced a plan to fund MTA repairs by taxing the rich. Wild! I couldn’t believe it. NYCC leveraged this issue to achieve a specific policy aim. That is the power of messaging. You have to know not just what your fighting against, but also what your fighting for.
What advice would I give to someone who wants to pursue an internship in my organization or field?
I would advise people to focus on building relationships. This is the most important part of community organizing. Build relationships with members. Build relationships with colleagues. Build relationships with people in the community. Community organizing blurs the line between work and leisure. It’s okay to enjoy your time with folks or take time out of your leisure to build relationships with people. For instance, one of the most meaningful parts of my summer was attending a church of one the members of NYCC. I got to see him in a different environment.
I would advise folks to ask all your colleagues how you can help. For me, I am given high autonomy in my internship role and sometimes I don’t have a lot to do in the office. The best way to find tasks was by asking my colleagues if I could help them. I learned a lot by befriending the communication team and assisting them with social media outreach. Ask organizers if you can shadow them. This is the best way to learn about on-the-ground organizing.
I can’t believe how the time is flying this summer at the gallery! My impression of the gallery remains complete awe and admiration. Fred, the owner, and Katie and Adam, run an incredibly personable gallery that is truly there for the artists. Yes, it is a commercial art gallery and they make a profit, but the artists come in daily just to chat and catch up, or ask for advice of help of any kind, and they are always welcomed with open arms. It is a truly wonderful place, and the kind of gallery that I hope to own one day.
I have to say, the most surprising thing about this internship, was really just how much one needs an internship to truly learn. I absolutely love my time at Brandeis more than anything and I wish I could stay there forever! But, I have learned so much in this internship that I could never have learned in school. It is, in some ways, a very physical, hands on job. Since my last post, I finished pulling and labeling all the pieces from the back, which is no easy task because paintings can be really huge and you are on a ladder and identifying paintings based on brush stroke and common themes, much like an art history test actually, so I thoroughly enjoyed that. We had new shipments of paintings come in and documented them, there was an install and a de-install where I bonded with a few of the artists that I deeply respect such as Elena Herzog who is so incredibly talented. I learned how to wrap and ship paintings, the proper ways to handle different kinds of art, and completely mastered the system in which we inventory our work, and update the website, which is the same software used by most galleries and museums nationwide!
While this might seam like a rather banal skill-set when it’s phrased like “how to wrap and ship a painting”, let me just tell you how many layers and how important it is to get them right. Little things like, if the bubbles of the bubble-wrap (which is the third layer) face inwards on the first layer of bubble wrap, they could indent the surface and you could end up with faint circular indents all over the surface of the painting. So, you must wrap bubble out, then bubble in. There are also very specific instructions for hanging, and the various power tools involved, and heights, and aesthetic choices made in hanging shows that I will carry with me for the rest of my career. All of these skills are SO incredibly important when entering the gallery or museum world post-graduation, which is closer for me than I would like to admit, and I can now put all of these on a resume, skills that I did not even know I needed to possess!
I’ve also realized that my courses at Brandeis prepared me for this internship. Had I not taken and thrived in all of the art history courses I have taken at Brandeis, identifying the artist who made the unlabeled paintings in storage would have been nearly impossible. I truly have so much to be thankful to Brandeis for.
Experiencing the Tony Awards, from the red carpet to the hottest after party at the Carlyle Hotel, was nothing less than absolutely fantastic! It always seemed like a distant dream to me and there I was, attending the same party as so many of my idols. Even though it was about a month ago, it’s still crazy to think that I was in the same room as celebrities such as Bette Midler, Olivia Wilde, Ben Platt, Sally Field, Anna Kendrick, Kevin Spacey, Darren Criss, Corey Cott, and about four hundred others. By the time I went to bed, I had been awake for over 20 hours but I didn’t even feel tired. I was very grateful for all of the adrenaline I was running on! That following week, the interns were kept very busy as we archived every mention of our shows from the Tony Awards on every news and media outlet, along with preparing for the opening night of “1984,” a new Broadway play based on George Orwell’s book adapted by Robert Icke and Duncan Macmillan. “1984” recently premiered on June 22nd, so there was very little time after the Tony Awards to get everything together. Much of our time was spent on picking up and preparing tickets and press lists for the following week.
At the beginning of July, I moved into an apartment only four blocks from my office, which has cut my 2 hour commute into 10 minutes! I love being so close to work because I’m not exhausted while there and can really focus on what I’m doing. I’m also able to see many shows on Broadway since I live so close which is how I love to spend my evenings.
Soon we will be preparing for the opening of Michael Moore’s new play, “The Terms of My Surrender.” I feel more prepared having already done work for the opening of “1984” and hope that I will be able to help even more than before. The summer is typically a very slow time for the Broadway world but we are lucky enough to be part of two shows that begin during the summer.
Working with DKC/O&M has solidified my desire to go into Arts Administration after college. Since we don’t offer courses around Arts Administration at Brandeis, I really didn’t know what it was or that it was even an option for me. I am very grateful for my internship because it is very difficult to truly learn what it is a press agent does in an academic setting. So much of the work is hands on and it’s great to be able to get that experience with DKC/O&M. Getting to see how different situations are handled first hand is invaluable. I love the environment I’m in, the people I’m working with, the work I’m doing, and the experiences I am lucky enough to have. If you find yourself interested in working in Arts Administration, my suggestion is that you apply for every internship you can get your hands on. The theater community, especially in New York, is so small and close knit that no matter where you end up, you’ll be connecting and working with people from all different areas of Arts Administration. You’ll make extremely valuable connections and it can’t hurt to try something different than what we’re always studying in school!
In Haiti, when you ask students what they would like to be when they grow up, they always answer, “a doctor, a lawyer, a teacher.” This proved to be true when I asked 60 students this question in the first week of Empowering Through Education (ETE) Camp. After reflecting on why this might be, I came to realize that most of them say these careers because they are pretty much the norm in Haiti. These are the careers students are aware of. At ETE Camp, we believe that it is important to teach these students about other career paths.
Now, when I ask the students what they would like to be they don’t all say, “doctor, teacher and lawyer”. Students chime in with jobs like, “engineer, business woman, agronomist, professional soccer player, and neurologist”. In addition, they’ve started to see themselves as leaders. They understand that they have a sense of responsibility to serve their community by contributing to its development. ETE Camp over the past 9 consecutive years has been forming youth to become leaders in Hinche, Haiti. Although that doesn’t erase the fact that certain students still don’t have access to a quality education; it empowers these young people to fight for a better education for themselves and their peers.
ETE Camp creates the momentum of producing leaders in the Hinche community because of the support of many individuals. Each year many people from the US volunteer at ETE Camp. Now, we have over 40 counselors who teach during the program. Teaching at the program not only benefits the young leaders in Hinche, but also it benefits individuals like me who volunteer. Many counselors who volunteer are English teachers in the United States, often they teach English as a second language. At ETE Camp, Creole is the dominant spoken language but our counselors teach English, Engineering, Leadership, and Mathematics. They gain perspective on how challenging it can be to learn a second or third language and can apply this to the struggles that immigrants might face when starting school in the United States of America while learning a new language. The experiences staff have at ETE Camp usually shape the way they teach students when returning to the US.
To sum it up, ETE Camp creates an opportunity for youth to learn how to be leaders. It gives students the confidence to think outside of the norms when choosing a career. It opens a door for people like me to make an impact on individuals I would not meet if it were not for the camp. The smalls steps ETE Camp supporters take, help us to accomplish something great and help students SUCCEED!
I ended my internship working with the Program Services and Survey department at FCD. For the survey department, I finished the lit review I was working on for background information about parental supervision and permission to drink and supply at home. Hopefully they can use what I have researched to help with the publication of some of their research that they have already done using the surveys they give to school and the data they have collected from it. I also helped my supervisor in the survey department scan some of the last surveys they got from the 2016-2017 school year using their scantron.
For program services, I completed a few assignments and I was able to work with the high school interns that arrived in July. They are working on these videos that FCD will send to individuals that have signed up for the weekly newsletter. Each video talks about a certain topic, for example, one of them they talk about normative beliefs and they are also hoping to be able to interview a prevention specialist. I met with them to talk about some of their ideas and sat in on one of their practices to give them a different perspective. It was interesting to get their perspective of what they thought of FCD as high school students, which is part of the grade level that FCD works with. In addition, I looked over a research update one of the other college students worked on earlier this summer and contributed a bit of data that I found from my research on parental supervision of alcohol. I provided some of my ideas and opinions on it and our supervisor will attempt to use what she created and some of the edits I did to make a finalized version of this. I also worked on a PowerPoint that prevention specialists will be able to use as one of their resource. This was actually a request from one of them after one of their students asked them what the inside of a human brain looks like after using substances. FCD wanted to give accurate data but also did not want to use scare tactics and say things like “these are holes in your brain” when really it is just less blood flow to certain areas. I found some images like this one under the alcohol section. I used these images to create a PowerPoint and wrote some summaries and discussion questions for the prevention specialists to use.
Coming into this internship, I did not have the most specific goals and I think that was good because I came in with an open mind and did not think that only certain things were worthwhile to do. I had wanted to learn more about prevention in general because that is what FCD specialize in. I definitely think I met that goal after interning there this summer. They were open to questions and were so willing to explain things to me about FCD. I also wanted to get a better sense of how a health-related organization is run. I was able to work in all four of the departments over the summer and that gave me a good idea of how each department is critical and necessary to a health organization. I liked having this background internship where the prevention specialists are the ones who talk to the schools while people at the administrative building at FCD provide them with the support they need to make everything work and run smoothly. I wanted to see how a public health organization can affect the community it works with. Seeing how many schools have worked with FCD and reading student comments about FCD showed how much they have impacted the lives of these students.
I still am not quite sure of what I want to do after graduation. I don’t know if it made me want to work specifically in a substance abuse prevention organization even though I enjoyed my time at FCD immensely. At the same time, FCD is so unique, I don’t think I will find something that is quite like it. I did enjoy working at this small non-profit and I felt welcomed into their community. I have always known I do like working individually for the most part on assignments. But after interning at FCD, I realized I do like being able to bounce ideas of my supervisors and fellow interns have the space and ability to ask questions and get suggestions. One thing I noticed is that sometimes I just have a hard time getting started with a new assignment or project. I have this feeling of not wanting to mess it up already and just not being very confident in myself to produce exactly what my supervisor is expecting. After FCD, I realized that sometimes I just have to make the plunge and start it after I have asked all the clarifying questions, and it will usually turn out fine.
I think that a student who wants to intern at FCD should know that the people who work there welcome all questions that you have. They encourage interns to ask questions and to question things they do in order to learn. They value an intern’s input and will ask for their opinions and ideas. At FCD, an intern has to realize this is a smaller organization and people are very passionate and motivated about the work they do. Prevention, to them, is not just a class but an environment they hope to create in communities. There will be independent work but supervisors are always willing to help and ask questions. I think in these health non-profits in general, people have to realize, for the most part, the people who work there are extremely passionate about the mission of their organization. At these smaller non-profits, everyone has to help with everything. Although my supervisors and other all helped when the need arose. I think that is something people have to realize when going to work at a smaller organization; although you may be going in to do something specific, you also have to help with the general running of the organization.
I think the thing that I am most proud about after this internship is the fact that I was able to produce things that was not just for an academic grade but could actually be used in the real world. I’m just really glad I was able to help the organization with their mission. I think it really helped that my supervisors were always willing to explain to me why I was doing something so it never felt like I was just given a random task to do as busy work. Knowing why I did something gave it value. I am proud that, for example, the intern evaluation I made for FCD will be used in the future and the PowerPoint I made could be something a prevention specialist might use in the classroom in some distant school. FCD was a lovely organization and I am so glad I found them and that I was accepted into their organization with so much welcome and support.
During training we were advised that these children came from traumatic backgrounds and that these backgrounds gravely affected them. While I’ve always known and been advised that these campers are not necessarily like others, I wish I had known more about how they might be different before I began this summer.
Many times during craft or a quiet activity, one of the campers would start talking about their home life. One child referred to her father as a monster of whom she was still afraid, another child spoke of his father’s shooting, and yet another spoke of the yelling and hitting that occurred in their home. Today, an inconsolable child spent thirty minutes trying to open a locked door as I stood by with Child Advocates. He had been removed from the classroom because he had begun hitting and kicking his brother, and with the locked door between them he was unable to force the brother into doing what he wanted. Similarly, a couple of weeks ago, two of our older campers stopped showing up regularly, and we were eventually informed that the older sister had been caught trying to strangle the younger brother. Situations like this never really occurred during any of my past jobs working with children, and I had to learn how to adapt to engaging with traumatized children.
However, I’ve also learned just how resilient these children are. Some of these kids have been in abusive homes their whole lives and are just now starting to get a sense of what safety truly is. Despite all that they have been through in their short lives, they still show up to camp with smiles on their faces. When selecting their feeling at the beginning of the camp, they oftentimes talk about how excited they are to see what activities are planned and what the “theme” is.
Most of the time, these kids are no different than any others—they laugh, they sing songs, they try to trick you into spelling I.c.u.p.—so it is oftentimes difficult to remember the trauma they have been through. It is oftentimes difficult to remember that at the end of the day they have fled for their lives.
During training, one of the exercises that really stood out to me was a group activity in which we were placed into the roles of fictional domestic violence victims. My character was a wealthy lawyer who married the good-looking attorney that visited her workplace. It started with controlling behaviors, emotional abuse, and financial abuse. Then, the physical abuse began. As we worked through the game we were forced to make choices: would we speak to our local minister or try explaining the situation to our best girlfriend, would we call the domestic violence hotline, or simply wait, hoping that our mother would ask about the bruises dotting our neck? Even during the game the choices seemed nearly impossible, and even though we tried making the best decisions we still ended up back at the “Abuse Happens” station, where we had to each take a Band-Aid and place it on our physical body. The visceral image of being covered by Band-Aids is one that I will never forget.
I really enjoyed my time interning at WINGS. It was such a unique experience that led to an invaluable summer. Being given the opportunity to step into such a leadership position was something that I truly think I needed to experience. Through the position I was able to develop my planning skills, social skills, leadership skills, interpersonal skills, intrapersonal skills, and a plethora of other things. I learned so much about a crisis that affects so many across the country and across the globe. Domestic violence knows no race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, class, etc. Domestic violence is a real problem that affects millions. My experience with WINGS is one that will stay with me, and I am immensely grateful that I had the opportunity to interact with children, their parents, and the organization as a whole.
It is hard to believe that time is passing so quickly and that I am more than halfway done with my internship at Global Trade Watch! It has been an action-packed couple of weeks, full of research projects, phone banking, and attending protests. Washington D.C. really is the place to be in the midst of all this political turnover. I have settled into the day-to-day life and working environment of a political advocacy non-profit. Every day I work from 9am to 6pm in an open cubicle next to another intern, working on whatever projects we have in store for the day. We get our projects mainly from the senior researchers, but also from the field director or from anybody else who needs help with a project. We usually have a few days to complete the task, but almost all of our work does end up being circulated or used in some larger component within the organization, so all of our work is high priority and often on a deadline. It is very exciting to be able to contribute to the actual workload of the organization. It feels like we are truly able to participate and that our jobs mean something. Our projects can range from anything like sending off information packets and making phone calls to researching export and import data and the corporate contributions that have been made to a congressman’s campaign. A few weeks ago we spent days calling congressional offices to update our contact lists with the names and emails of current staffers, a tedious but very necessary task. Luckily, our supervisor also gave us cookies to keep us happy! I also got the chance to attending a NAFTA 101 Briefing at the House of Representatives! It was in a small conference room and the panel was mostly talking to a room of interns sent by various higher-ups, but it was still very exciting to be a part of! I took notes and later sent out a write-up to my team.
Working in an office is definitely a different experience than attending classes in a university setting. Because it is a longer stretch of working hours, 9 hours with a one hour lunch break, it requires a more long-term form of concentration than focusing on a 50 minute lecture. It is sometimes a challenge to stay focused on a single, perhaps tedious task for hours on end. Conversely, sometimes there are gaps in projects where there is nothing to work on and we have to be able to use our time productively on our own while waiting for an assignment. Both of these skills take focus and practice, and I am glad I am getting a taste of what that can be like before I head out into the workforce permanently. On the other hand, I really appreciate the lack of homework and being able to truly be done with work for the day once I return home. I don’t have to worry about completing an assignment late at night, and I never have to sacrifice sleep for work.
I truly feel like I am getting a lot out of my internship this summer. I am
learning a lot of valuable skills, such as streamlining research, becoming more comfortable talking on the telephone, and learning more about how to use excel spreadsheets. I am also learning a lot about politics and legislation, even though I am not working directly with the government. I look forward to being able to bring these skills back to Brandeis with me when I return in the fall. I plan to use my more advanced research skills, honed over this summer, to my advantage in my classes when I have to do research projects. I plan on using my acquired skills in excel and data processing particularly in my Econ classes in addition to being a marketable skill for my resume. Since I will be applying to jobs before I know it, I think getting more comfortable on the telephone will really help me in the interview process. Most importantly, I believe I will take away a better sense of my interests and what I might like to do as a career. I am especially enjoying the research aspect of my internship, and I think that is a good thing to know about myself. On the other side, I know I will not want to pursue a career in field organizing, it is just not for me! This already has been such a rich summer and I look forward to what else is in store.
I have spent a lot of this summer realizing how impactful research can be for social change, and how many vastly different ways there are to serve socially just causes. There are so many channels: conducting research, participating in community activism, working on political a campaign, working at a non-profit, becoming a social worker (to name a few). Considering the multitude of ways that people fight for progressive change and justice, particularly through their careers, is mostly exciting, from a social perspective, and somewhat daunting career perspective. When I started this internship, there seemed to be two clear career routes within the realm of public health: being an epidemiologist or other type of researcher, or working in policy and advocacy. While this internship has taught me so much about how research contributes to social justice and serves as a tool for improving public health policy, it has also made me question whether I would like to conduct research for the entirety of my working life.
As the CHIBPS summer internship program has started to wind down, the staff has organized several career-related talks for the interns. Yesterday, I attended the masters in public health seminar. One of the directors of CHIBPS discussed her trajectory through public health, her schooling and various jobs. It made me feel even more indecisive about my career path. But at the end, she left us with one last piece of sage advice. She said, “everything is public health.” This means that every industry and field of work has an impact on public health. In addition, all social justice work relates back to health, even if it is not explicitly discussing the physical or mental health of the people it is fighting for.
These issues are obviously explicitly public healthcare related, and thus the social justice activism surrounding them is focused on the goal of improving (or preserving) the health of at-risk populations. However, social justice activism aimed at issues related to LGBTQIA rights, police brutality, sexual violence, immigration, the environment, etc., are all tied to health. This is because identity greatly influences people’s access to healthcare, and how the healthcare system and healthcare providers interpret individuals. As for the environment example, it should be obvious that without a healthy environment, there are no healthy people (not to mention environmental racism’s impact on negative health outcomes, i.e. Flint, Michigan). Outside of activism, industries have a massive impact on the public health both economically and culturally.
From this standpoint, the biggest piece of advice I would give someone looking to pursue a social justice-related job or internship is to keep this in mind and consider how your career passions might work to serve causes you are passionate about. Consider the ethics of organizations before you apply to them. Decide how closely you would like to work with the community you are working with. I am lucky to have found an organization that improved my research skills and allowed me to interact with community members. However, the downside of research is that the results of our labor are not immediate and that is something that I sometimes struggle with. Despite that, I am happy to have interned at CHIBPS and so thankful that the WOW allowed me this formative summer in New York.
We’ve always referred to Brandeis University as a school that is strongly based on social justice due to its dynamic history and population. We have a culture at Brandeis where we serve the underprivileged and give them opportunities that otherwise, they would not have access to. Many students at Brandeis are involved in social justice work in one way or another. My passion to be involved in work that fights for equal rights is what attracted me to Brandeis.
At Brandeis, I am not only seeing other people do social justice work, I am also able to do my own work. “Empowering Through Education” Camp offers children a quality curriculum that they do not find in the schools in their community. Many schools in Haiti require a fee for attendance. Families that cannot afford this payment are not able to send their students to school and these children miss out on the opportunity to attend school. Also, the more elite schools have higher fees so families who do have some funds might elect to send their children to less elite schools because of the cost. ETE camp is making sure that all students, no matter what school they attend, are given the same education and materials as their peers so all are able to equally enjoy the camp experience.
On Sunday, July 2 ETE Camp had an open house as the program started on July 3. Parents and students were extremely excited to have the opportunity to be at the camp during the vacation because otherwise these students would not do anything during their summer break. During the open house, unfortunately, many students had to be turned away because camp is limited to sixty children. It was really hard to see some children cry and many parents go home very disappointed. Even though we are aware that all students deserve a quality education, our capacity is extremely limited due to resources and funding.
Brandeis University and ETE Camp in Hinche Haiti are both working to achieve a social justice mission by providing a quality education to unprivileged children. As ETE Camp is in its 9th consecutive year, we have alumni that are starting to give back to the camp and it is amazing to see how the work of social justice and equality is really working within the Hinche community. It is a powerful to have the opportunity to do work like this and I am very passionate about carrying the Brandeis University legacy through this work. I thank all of you who share my vision and have helped make this work possible for me.
As I hinted in my previous blog, CHIBPS recognizes the important role researchers play in furthering knowledge on issues of public health to better our cultural understanding of HIV, and to destigmatize the mainstream narratives which thus influences policy. However, one of the things that I find most challenging when attacking issues of social injustice from a research angle, is that researchers do not witness the immediate change and cannot influence or bias the results. In the context of our research projects, this means that we are not able to tell people that they should be changing their behavior to lower their risk of contracting or transmitting HIV. We can offer resources if they ask, but we cannot influence their behavior in any way. In addition, the American healthcare system is extremely complicated and bureaucratic. Therefore, policy or innovation moves rather slowly. Research, particularly on human subjects, is a lengthy and messy process. And it looks different depending on which study we are working on.
This summer, my role in the study of older HIV positive, gay identified men is centered primarily on study recruitment either online, in community centers or at Pride events around the city. The goal of this study is to understand how psychosocial factors such as homophobia, ageism, etc., impact the process of aging with HIV. Thus progress in this context looks like identifying those factors and understanding what it is like for the first generation of people who have aged with HIV as their life expectancy now matches the rest of the population. Progress in this context looks like deepening our knowledge of an older HIV positive gay man’s experience, in the hopes of both humanizing them and improving their quality of life.
In the longitudinal study that has been following young men who have sex with men in the New York metropolitan area, the goal is to understand the development of both maladaptive and adaptive behaviors and to further develop a theory of syndemic production of HIV. This would, again, further our knowledge of HIV to help improve HIV related policy and hopefully decrease the rate of transmission among men who have sex with men. My involvement in this study entails interviews of subjects surrounding their sexual behavior and substance use. The fact that this study is longitudinal implies that it is a long, evolving process. To summarize, the broad goal of our behavioral research is to find results that deepen our understanding of HIV, and lead to tangible progress for the communities we serve.
Walking through Providence everyday on my way to work feels refreshing. The combination of a once unfamiliar place beginning to feel like home, and of a transition into a truly vibrant city with new people, has made my summer exciting. I’ve grown to appreciate Providence and all that it has to offer, as well as accept that there is so much more to see that I have yet to explore. As a Sponsorship and Development Associate at RIIFF, I have become acutely aware of just how many more dining hot-spots and local tourist attractions I should check out in my quest to feel more of the Rhode Island experience. I have been able to see the buildings that host many of the major events of Rhode Island through my sponsorship work. One such building is the Providence Performing Arts Center (PPAC), a gorgeous building that will be used for our Opening Night.
My time during this summer at RIIFF is much more focused than when I am full-time at Brandeis, by nature of being able to truly focus on my internship itself. At school, I juggle a multitude of commitments, ranging from academic pursuits to social activities, including work, community service, athletic teams and classes. During this summer at RIIFF, I have not had to balance so many of those obligations, so my time at work is truly the main receiver of all my energy. I am able to come to work each day with a fresh mind without many distractions. This is something I have truly come to appreciate in the day-to-day lifestyle I am able to live this summer.
One of my favorite aspects of this internship is engaging in interviews with our favorite filmmakers. It is so rewarding to be able to talk to and learn from some of the best in the industry. I have the opportunity to interview one of my favorite interviewers on his documentaries regarding the impacts of prison and necessary reforms surrounding the system. I am grateful for the opportunity to do so, particularly given my long-standing appreciation for this filmmaker and my passion for the topics that he covers. In addition, the ability to view so many different films from all over the world is invaluable, and I feel as though I have learned so much from watching them.
I have loved immersing myself in the world of sponsorship work. The skills I have learned here at RIIFF are those I could certainly apply in other aspects of my life. I feel confident in pursuing sponsors, should I need to, for clubs I am involved in on campus now. While many of the interactions I have with potential sponsors take place over the phone, I have come to realize that in-person meeting is a much easier way to specify exactly what is wanted so that I can persuade potential sponsors to provide that. Communicating over the phone is very important in my role here, which is a skill that I will be able to apply in almost all of my future endeavors. It is rewarding to focus on being charming while communicating over a medium which is often seen as impersonal because of its lack of face-to-face contact.
I am looking forward to seeing all of the work completed by RIIFF staff come to fruition during the festival. We already are anticipating the business of that week with much excitement! If you are interested in attending, please feel free to clickhere to purchase tickets!
Now that I only have a few weeks left of my internship at the Massachusetts Public Health Association (MPHA), I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting on my experience. A significant thing that I’ve learned is that everyone’s duties align with each other in that each person’s job is significant for another person to be successful in their own job. I spoke about this in my third blog post, which spoke on the process of my organization and how they achieve their goals. Also, since MPHA is a nonprofit organization, many of the staff members will help another staff member in need since the staff size is so small. For instance, when the Events Manager needed some help with the Spring Awards Breakfast, other staff members were able to help. The community is strong and everyone is okay with helping other staff members because they know how important the work is.
Throughout my internship, I’ve interviewed different MPHA partners to then create a story about how MPHA has positively impacted their organizations and communities where these organizations are located. Before I worked on this project, I helped MPHA with their spring awards breakfast during the month of May. I created posters, contacted potential guests, updated the salesforce database, made trips to Staples, and more. This was a big payoff for me because by the day of the breakfast, I was so proud to have played a role in its execution. It was a beautiful breakfast and I was able to listen to the speeches of the different public health honorees at the breakfast. One of the honorees Dr. Megan Sandel, who wrote a study that I analyzed in my Epidemiology & Biostatistics class that I took this past spring semester.
Something that I wish I knew when my internship started is that I should expect to have responsibilities in many different areas rather than just the one area that I was expecting to. Like I said earlier, since the staff/organization is so small, staff members will offer their hand in help for activities that other staff members are doing. This is why my responsibilities varied from interviewing public health professionals to entering data on the salesforce database. I wish I knew this when I first started so that I wouldn’t be surprised when I would spend the day doing something other than what I was originally told I would be doing prior to when my internship started.
I would tell people to keep this in mind if they will be interning for MPHA or another nonprofit organization. I also recommend to take advantage of all the connections that you will make throughout the internship. It is so important to have connections to land you a job after graduating college. Make sure to build a relationship not only with the staff members of the organization, but also with the professionals that you will meet outside your organization during your internship. Finally, I would recommend taking advantage of bigger assignments that are offered to you so that you can gain more experience and build your resume. But most of all, enjoy your time as an intern because it is your opportunity to immerse yourself in the workplace while still having the experience of being a student in college.
Are you interested in an investigative internship at PDS? Do it. If you’re thinking of going into law and want an experience that requires you to think on your feet, this internship is for you.
Is there anything I wish I knew at the beginning? Not really – this experience was a process that had to happen to me in due time. I’ve seen things, I’ve heard things, and I’ve felt things that I would have never expected. This summer I was born like a giraffe – dropped straight to the ground and quickly taught how to stand. That isn’t to say there isn’t training – we’re taught from the very beginning how to take statements, serve subpoenas, etc. But the advice I would give to someone pursuing an opportunity at PDS is related: expect the unexpected. Sure, it’s also good to read up on the criminal justice system, the lifetime of a case, etc., but ultimately there’s no real way to prepare for intensive experience that is the criminal law internship at PDS.
In terms of social justice, my eyes have been pried so far open I’ve been blinded by the sunlight, so to speak. I’ve seen poverty–real, awful poverty–right here in DC. Like the kind of poverty where children don’t have mattresses to sleep on, where flakes of paint containing lead regularly chip off the walls, and where corn flakes are for dinner without debate. I’ve seen segregation, both by race and class – segregation so stark it makes you cringe, segregation so stark that you question whether the era of Jim Crow already ended. Within DC in particular the disparity could not be more obvious. In certain neighborhoods in the Northwest quadrant, you see enormous mansions, and white people predominate. It’s rare that you seen a black person. Cross the Anacostia River south and that world flips on its head: everyone is black, the poverty rate and crime rates skyrocket, and life-expectancy nearly cuts in half. It’s a sad, sad reality.
I’ve also learned about the horrors that constitute our jails and prisons. I’ve spoken to inmates, listened to jail calls, and heard less-than-flattering stories – stories you can only laugh at or else you’ll cry. I’ve seen autopsy reports. Crime scene photos. Gruesome, sickening wounds no one should ever have.
Most of all, I’ve learned firsthand about the systemic cycle of injustice that the invisible people of our communities continue to endure, even now, into the 21st century.
Whatever I end up doing, my career must involve helping these neglected people. That I know for certain. Often in their darkest hour, just charged with a crime, I want to be there to affirm to clients of a public defender office: You are not alone. Someone cares about you.
That brings me to the Free Minds Book Club. If nothing else, look them up and see the incredible work they do. Free Minds is an organization that facilitates the reading of books and writing of poetry by juveniles who are charged as adults (usually for a severe crime) and incarcerated in jail or prison. It turns out writing is a powerful, powerful medium for people to express themselves. Free Minds came to our office this week, and we got the opportunity to offer compliments and feedback on inmates’ poems. It was moving to read the poems of incarcerated children – to see them reach such depth and become so vulnerable for the strangers who they knew would read their poems.
In closing, I thank you for reading. This summer has been a whirlwind. If you’re thinking about law, intern at PDS.
Now that I have been interning at the Massachusetts Public Health Association (MPHA) for nearly three months, I’ve developed various skills that I did not have before. My main responsibility at MPHA is to interview different MPHA partners about the positive impact that MPHA and its programs has had on their organization and the community around their location. I then writes stories about their experiences, which are then uploaded to their website and included in print materials. This responsibility has helped me gain skills in creating interview questions, conducting a formal interview, and writing stories that will appeal to everyone, whether they are in the public health field or not.
This has been very beneficial to me because I have the opportunity to meet with different professionals. Since I am a rising senior, post-graduate life has been on my mind a lot, and I am always thinking about my future job. My career will be very different from my life now. Right now, most of the adults that I speak to are my teachers. However, I need to gain experience with professionals in the workplace since that is where I will be after I graduate. Therefore, talking with professionals in my field at this internship gives me a head start in feeling comfortable with talking to these people when I’m in the workplace. This experience has also provided me with important connections with people that can potentially help me in obtaining a job post-graduation.
Throughout this internship I have been imagining my future career and what I would like in my ideal workplace. I feel that sitting in an office 9-5 is pretty unavoidable. Luckily, I don’t seem to mind it. I think that what will be most important for me in my future career is that I am working with individuals that I get along with well and add some excitement to the office. I believe that anything can be much more enjoyable when you are with people that you like. I also appreciate working in a city rather than the suburbs because it is convenient, and I also appreciate my mid-afternoon strolls when I start to become restless sitting at my desk all day.
Finally, I learned that I really enjoy meeting new people and gaining connections throughout the city. I’ve met people at my workplace, in the State House, and in many different cities across Massachusetts. Meeting these different people has given me inspiration and always makes me excited to go back to MPHA to fulfill my own duties after hearing about the impact these professionals are making in their own community.
I am halfway through my internship, and yet I feel like I have so much still left to explore and accomplish. This is my first time in a research environment that is not directly relevant to my main focus of computer science, however computer science plays an integral role in the research I’m currently a part of. Our center studies the neurological consequences of neuropathic pain through quantitative analysis of the sciatic nerve, and the technical side makes it possible to conduct our research. This reinforces the idea of how my areas of interest computer engineering can be applied to enhancing and that sometimes it’s just a matter of creativity.
One of the ways that this experience has impacted me is the way I approach computer science related problems. In contrast to the methodical approach to solving a problem taught in classes, I am learning that not every factor can be put into a simple sequence of steps. Rather, research is complex and it is difficult to consider all the factors that can affect our approach – unlike controlled scenarios in school when multiple factors are ignored for simplicity. There is no set algorithm to solve something, especially in the biomedical field. While research can be fun and serve as an outlet for creativity, it can also be quite frustrating when you have to work on the same thing for long periods of time often just trying to correct a mistake.
Most of the work I’m doing so far pertains to diffusion tensor imaging. One of the things that I have had the opportunity to learn about is the different algorithms out there in implementing diffusion tensor imaging. Often with MRI scans in the lower extremities, many artifacts can produce lower image quality can make MRI scans more difficult to analyze. For example moving blood vessels might create a strip of noise and blur out the image in certain areas, which is especially true for axial weighted T2 images. One way I have learned to get around this issue is to use diffusion weighted imaging.
Water molecules in the body go through random motion, and by applying a special diffusion from encoding gradients, the MRI can now be sensitive towards this motion. This is known as a diffusion weighted image. When we apply the diffusion gradients, it is necessary to calculate a diffusion tensor to each pixel in the image. After extensive calculations, you get color coded maps that describe the diffusion anisotropy which provides a better idea of the different nerves in the body. This technique is used to grasp a better understanding of the white matter tracts in the brain, and in the study that I’m a part of this method is being applied to see if it is an efficient neuroimaging technique for the lower extremities.
The coolest part of my internship is that nobody has really attempted to improve neuroimaging techniques to capture the nerves below the spinal chord. While this is exciting, there are unique challenges I face since very little research exists for me to draw on where someone has attempted a similar approach. Overall, this experience has introduced me what research in academia actually entails – both the advantages and disadvantages that research poses – and has introduced me to new ways to think about how to use technology to develop novel approaches to solve problems.
I’m not trying to sugar coat it…my internship at hunnybon is more intense than ever! We are doing big things here in our New York City office..
Kimberly, hunnybon’s CEO values communication among staff and is always eager to teach me about the business. I spent the first month learning both the e-commerce and retail side of the business, how inventory management works, order fulfillment, and about daily operations. I even got to visit some of the candy retailers and I have sampled more organic sweets than you can imagine.
On a typical day, you can find me checking in on our locations to make sure they have enough candy supply, checking on the setup of the products, making sure that they look nice and are visible, and talking to the workers about the shop, making sure they know all the benefits and qualities of HunnyBon’s sweets. I suggested a training manual, or information that could be given to the employees whenever they get a new store, so that the workers can become more educated about how awesome this candy is. Kimberly and the team loved the idea, and I’m going to work on this for them.
It’s been interesting to see things from the inside of the company, when usually I’m on the other end, ordering from a website as a consumer (Amazon is my usual go-to.) I noticed that Inventory organization is one of the most crucial aspects necessary for a small office like HB to function. I have also been working hard on the social media aspect of the company, and have been studying how to appeal to HB’s target customer. I put together a plan with social media influencers to reach out to, different types of campaign ideas, and spend slow periods in the office taking pictures of the product. Sometimes, I am encouraged to leave the office with a bag of sweets to take photos around the city.
The second part of the internship is focusing more on the financial aspects. I met with Kimberly and a financial consultant to learn about Quickbooks and it is my job to organize and clean up their QB for 2017, and then generate financial statements. Although I learned a bit about these things in my accounting class, there is no true way to prepare for the challenge that is organizing a new company’s financial statements. The most difficult part is knowing how to categorize certain expenses because there is no fine line that determines expense categories. Sometimes it is up to my judgment and other times I need to bombard a senior staff member with questions.
Overall, the experience has been great so far, both at HunnyBon, and living the New York City life. Everything is pretty fast paced here, so it’s interesting to understand how businesses can be successful and the hard work it takes to make it here. Kimberly and the team of HunnyBon have been so great at both making me feel welcome at the office and in the city, and guiding me to make sure I really get the most out of the experience. Some pretty major companies have taken an interest in potentially selling some HB products in their stores, so we are all very excited to see what will happen in the near future! I will let you know what happens in my next post. Over and out.
It is funny to think about my internship experience at Americares as if it is in the past, but I know that I will be at the organization for another four or five weeks before it is truly time to say goodbye. As far as impact I’ve had on the organization, well, only time will tell. As of now, my finished projects or assignments have come in the form of presentations and the creation and implementation of intern activities. Although these activities have been useful and enjoyable, some of the larger impacts my work will have on the organization are still in the project stages. For example, one of my more major assignments is to work on an updated employee handbook. It is still in the works, but is definitely in progress. I am excited to see what the end result will look like, and hopefully I will have a chance to do so by the end of my internship.
When I started my internship, I wish I had known the level of independence I would be offered in this role as well as all the amazing people I would be meeting. I wouldn’t want either of these things to change, but I feel like knowing what I know now, I would have appreciated these offerings even more. What was most surprising to me is how open and available the CEO is to anything the interns may need. For example, several of us were working on a group project at an open work table where the CEO needed to be. Rather than make us move and find a new workspace, he generously offered up his office! Not only did he offer up his office, but he also said to feel free to poke around in there as he has a lot of interesting artifacts. He is incredibly responsive and open regarding his personal experiences and how they relate to the mission of Americares. Although the CEO is at the forefront of the organization, there were tons of other unique people that I have had the pleasure of meeting through this internship experience.
The advice I can offer for someone interested in pursuing human resources is to be diligent in looking for an internship or a job. Although human resources is a normal business function, it is harder to find open positions than marketing or finance, likely because you are handling confidential information. For someone pursuing an internship or career in nonprofits or health in general, I would say to be open to any experience and take advantage of any opportunity that comes your way! With regards to an organization like Americares, many of the departments offered do not align with a typical college major, such as marketing or economics. This means that in order to discover these departments and see if they might interest you, you have to express an interest or apply directly for a job or internship in that department. Even if you do have a position within the organization, always explore and be open to change because you never know what you might find.
As I near the end of my internship I have been reflecting on the goals I intended to achieve at the beginning and where I am right now with only two weeks to go. I had hoped to learn more about research and how it can affect underserved communities in attaining better access to care, and I wanted to gain the skills necessary to conduct research more independently. With over two months of my internship complete I can say I have attained those goals. The research I have done and hope to get submitted for publication in the next month will hopefully inform policy makers and the dental community alike about the discrepancies in access to fluoride that exist in different communities. I have also learned how to be nit-picky of my own writing in order to achieve a publish-worthy manuscript as well as how to collect and analyze data. In the future, given the opportunity to conduct research I will be able to be much more independent throughout the process.
Having worked on research one-on-one with a faculty member at the University of Washington Dental School, I was given a lot of responsibility. Whether it be small organizational tasks or writing an entire manuscript, I have greatly assisted my mentor in completing many of the tasks on his list. I have been able to be helpful with a variety of activities and tasks making a very positive impact on the department as a whole.
Prior to starting the internship, I wish I had researched the work environment I would be in more. Although the work itself was exciting, the office was often relatively empty with only two administrators in the office. I would recommend to any student considering doing a research internship to talk to someone else working in the lab in order to learn more about the social interaction and dynamic of the lab.
Being able to balance work with other activities is important as well. While the work is often very fun, it can also be tiring, so making time to spend time with friends and doing things you enjoy is important as well. For anyone considering doing research I would recommend talking to your supervisor before hand to see if there are any things you can familiarize yourself with prior to starting the internship in order to make it a smooth transition. Having a clear understanding of what your responsibilities will be as well as the time commitment for the internship is important as well. I would suggest considering finding an internship that would combine research with more hands on activities and events as well in order to have a diversity of experiences throughout the summer and maximize your learning opportunities.
Overall, I have had a tremendous summer of learning, gaining new skills, and achieving my goals. It has been a wonderful experience that I hope to build on again next summer.
The time I spent at National Consumers League has taught me valuable lesson about social justice work. It was a bittersweet journey, so now I am going to share it with the intention to better prepare those who want to pursue an internship or career in this field.
First of all, remember that there are many, many people and organizations working on the same issue as you, and you need them. Social justice work relies heavily on the the power of the crowd. We need people and groups to help reach a larger demographic, which will band together to be the pressure needed for changes. At NCL, we have coalitions for every thing: child labor, forced arbitration, health care … and we were able to utilize local group connections to bring in victims or influence politicians from other states across the country. As a lot of individual organizations are small with limited resources, it would have been impossible for them alone to achieve such success.
However, you must also remember, when there are many people involved, the logistic and planing process sometimes could be incredibly slow. Every organization must go through with the plan, and there are conflicts of interest. It is very different from a start-up environment where it is mostly project-based small groups working together in a time-pressed manner. So if you want to work in social work, it is really important to be patient and be able to have a wide network that helps you connect and coordinate with other organizations. Also, from time to time you will feel like your contribution is but a grain of salt adding to the ocean. That is not to say your effort is futile, but that it is marginally small compared to the many people working on the same thing as you are. When those moments arise, keep in mind that your cause relies on the number of people involved. So your contribution, albeit small, is crucial to social justice work.
The second advice I have has to do with dealing with work conflict, which applies to every field, not just social justice work. After my experience with NCL, I believe the best way to deal with conflict is to be direct and talk to the person you work with or with the person who might have an issue with you. If you don’t talk to them, there is a high chance that they might complain about you to others and bad rumors will circulate around the office with your knowledge. Be direct but soft! Ask them if there is anything they would like you to improve on, or what time they expect you to hand things in. Constantly communicating with your supervisor not only gives you the feeling of how they evaluate you but also gives you the chance to fix any issue before it gets too large. It also creates a bond between your supervisor and you and elevates trust. Also, for those who crave being challenged and constantly learning new things, being a summer intern, whether in social justice work or other types of company, means you are a guest to them. Don’t expect them to welcome you with a lot of responsibilities like you expected. A good piece of advice is for you to take the initiative and offer your assistance to them. Even if they don’t have some tasks available right then, they will remember you when they do.
For the past couple of weeks, I have been diving deep into planning for the City Nature Challenge for 2018. The CNC is a week long competition between cities across the nation to document the most biodiversity in their area. It is an exciting way to get the public outside and observing the local life around them. This year, the competition is expanding all over the world with participants in six continents in over 60 cities. I am confident the Boston area will be a top contender.
For the Encyclopedia of Life, we are focusing on creating educational materials to support high school educators and students during the challenge. The Learning and Education group at EOL has developed many resources throughout the years focused on getting students involved in citizen science and open science. My personal favorite is the species cards that can be used out in the field or in EOL created lesson plans. The hope of getting students involved is to spark interest in the environment and become inspired to change some of the issues facing us today. If students can feel a connection with nature then they will feel more likely to protect it.
Our goal for the CNC is to create a comprehensive source of materials including lessons plans, species cards, and tutorials that formal and informal educators can use to get their students outside making observations that contribute to science. With these materials, students will feel empowered to make meaningful observations and contribute to a larger database of species data. Scientists then can use this data in research and published papers, which I think is pretty cool.
One of my favorite moments so far from my internship was leading a group meeting with three other Boston area organizations. I have been communicating with this group throughout the summer and it was exciting to talk with them again. Our role as a committee in the CNC is to generate interest in the Boston area and get people excited to participate. We have to think about things like communication, fundraising, and outreach to other local organizations to make this year a success. It is fun working with them and learning about how a committee works.
Overall, I have been enjoying my time here at EOL and am looking forward to my last few weeks of the summer. National plans for the 2018 CNC are on their way and I am making sure the Boston area is prepared and ready to go. As for the education plans, I am excited to see how many students and educators we can reach to use our materials!
Technically, next week is my last with UFE, but I am so humbled to know I’m still wanted here.
Every day spent in the office, I could count on my co-workers to travel from room to room offering fruit, humor, and genuine concern. They’ve all showered me with nothing short of compassion and laughter — as if I was a permanent addition to the team.
Of course, I am thrilled to have this as an option. It is so affirming to know that my co-workers appreciate me as much as I appreciate them, but because of my positive experience here, I’m bound to expect too much in the future.
The support system I have at UFE is not promised, but thankfully, I have learned so much that I can take with me.
In just three months, I realized what was most important to me in the workplace. I thrive best in an environment that is constantly changing and keeps me on my toes. Typical desk jobs simply cannot satisfy me, since I get too tired of routine and need to have my mental capacity put to the test.
For anyone considering this internship or a similar one, I have three pieces of advice:
You cannot specialize. Non-profits such as this one have limited resources and require each person to take on a variety of tasks. If you aren’t a team player, non-profit work either isn’t for you OR it could be good practice.
Be prepared to get creative and execute your own projects. Sure, there’s plenty of work to be done already, but in the summer months, there tend to be lulls in activity.
And LASTLY, non-profit work exposes you to an unrealistic amount of wonderful people. If the real world is as harsh and unforgiving as adults make it out to be, then you and I both are due for a VERY rude awakening.
The Massachusetts Public Health Association is a social justice- focused organization with the goal of creating greater health access to those most vulnerable in the state of Massachusetts. The organization has a small staff and a board of directors.There are 8 staff members: Jodie Silverman is the Interim Executive Director, Akosua Siever is the Director of Development, Andrea Freeman is the Field Director, Melanie O’Malley is the Communications and Policy Manager, Alexa Piacenza is the Events and Administrative Manager, Maddie Ribble is the Director of Public Policy and Campaign Strategy, Kristina Cyr is the Coalition and Advocacy Manager, and Nopalzin Torres is the Finance and Operations Manager.
Each staff member has their own job with its own set of responsibilities. However, everyone‘s duties align witheach other’s in order to complete acommon goal. In the case of MPHA the common goal is to “create health equity for all” while also promoting their organization in order to create a greater following and consequently raise their chances of receiving government funding for their programs. I will give an example of how everyone’s duties aligned in order to put on a great Spring Awards Breakfast, a fundraising event that helps them receive funding for their impactful programs.
Andrea goes out into the community and observes the problems that need fixing. She forms strong relationships with Massachusetts residents and works closely with various organizations in order to fully understand the problems that the communities are facing. She then relays this information on to the staff members and MPHA’s partnering organizations who then create a potential policy/ program that may be able to fix the problem.
Policy and advocacy managers, Maddie and Kristina with this new information make trips to the state house to speak to policymakers/go to hearings in hopes of getting granted funding for their program. When MPHA has successes, Melanie, the Communications manager, communicates this on social media and the website and creates a following for the organization. An example is when MPHA secured $6 million for the Mass Food Trust, a program that they routinely fight for funding for. This program benefits Massachusetts residents that live in places where there is little to no access to healthy and affordable food. With the organization’s following, Akosua makes major decisions regarding MPHA events (in this case, the spring awards breakfast, which is a fundraiser), and Alexa, the events manager, carries out the decisions and puts on the event. She emails guests, updates databases, chooses a venue, etc. Jodie, the ED overlooks all of this while building relationships with various other organizations and Massachusetts residents in order to keep MPHA a popular and trustworthy organization. Nopalzinmakes sure that everyone is getting paid and that the organization is in good economic standing. He budgets the events and has access to the company credit card that is used to buy materials that the organization needs.
On June 2, MPHA put on a beautiful breakfast that honored health equity champions. There were public health organizations from all over Massachusetts in attendance, and Governor Charlie Baker even spoke. MPHA raised nearly $10,000 at the event alone, and over $50,000 leading up to the event. All of this wouldn’t have been able to happen without the teamwork of everyone. Each small step of each team member creates a great accomplishment when they all work together.
This is Gabriel. Back for my fourth blog post in as many weeks. Today I am answering the prompt:
What skills are you gaining and how will you employ those skills in the future (at Brandeis or beyond)?
One concrete skill I am learning at NYCC is the ability to use Powerbase. Powerbase is an open source database tool for organizing. With Powerbase I can input contact information, communication preferences and more for all the people I meet. I can also log when our contacts attend meetings or 1-on-1s or make commitments. José Gonzalez, the Director of Data Initiatives and Research for NYCC, wrote about how data collection has expanded NYCC’s political and financial capacity: “PowerBase has allowed us to create a realistic landscape of our membership and its characteristics. Because we are able to quantify the amount of members we have and document where they live, we are able to put forth an actual number that illustrates the support the organization has and therefore our political power. We are also able to qualify for funding through grants because of the same numbers.”
While Powerbase is valuable at organization-wide level it also helpful to the individual organizer. It helps me keep track of who I have contacted, when I first met them and how our phones calls or other communications have gone. In conjunction with Hustle, Powerbase allows me to send out mass text messages reminding folks about meetings or upcoming actions.
I did not foresee gaining technological skills at NYCC. However, I did anticipate learning about how to build relationships with folks and motivate them to join our cause. Throughout my time speaking to people at workforce centers, community centers, parks, bus stops, apartment complexes, barbershops and other local business, I am learning how to best present myself and frame issues in ways that are most likely to resonate and inspire people to join. Every person is different and I have to find that mutual ground. Especially coming as a white dude from Western Mass, I can’t front and pretend like we are all in the same boat. I can’t organize the same as my colleagues who grew up in Brownsville. However, if I come grounded, with an understanding of why I am doing the work and where I stand in the fight I find that I am super comfortable speaking with folks and making a connection. While I am comfortable starting the conversation, I’ve had a harder time getting folks to commit and come to meetings. I don’t like to demand things of people in my daily life. I am working on becoming more firm and insistent. My confidence grows as I understand and build faith in the mission of NYCC.
All these skills are transferable to my future career as an educator. Comfort with data collection and organization is helpful to almost any organization that works with a large contact list. I could foresee a school wanting to send out automated messages to parents from different grade levels or classes. However, the most transferable skill is building relationships and motivating people. Building a strong relationship with my future students and making a connection between their lived experiences and the content material will be incredibly helpful. Motivating them to follow and do their homework will be my biggest challenge.
During Week 1 of my internship with BridgeYear my bosses made something clear – while our professional work was important to them, so was our personal development. To demonstrate their investment in us as individuals, they set up weekly coaching sessions. For 30 minutes each week, each intern gets to meet with our assigned coach to talk about areas of growth that we have chosen with their help. These sessions have become essential to my BridgeYear experience and development as a leader.
My role this summer involves leading a team of people I’ve come to call friends and reporting to bosses I’ve called mentors for years. In other words, I’m caught in the middle of relationships with multiple dynamics. Although this situation creates an ideal working atmosphere on most days due to our strong bonds, it can also be hard to juggle when we have to get down to business. I worried about this from the start – how can I voice my opinions when we’re not on the same page, confront serious topics and deliver big asks, all while maintaining mentorships and friendships? I expressed this worry to my coach during our very first 1:1. It’s been about 7 weeks since then, and in that time, the situations I first worried about became a reality.
While the moments leading up to difficult conversations with my team were nerve-wracking, they weren’t as bad as I had imagined. This is because I worked on establishing a culture of trust and openness with the advisors I was leading from the start. I was readily available when they needed me, I listened to their concerns inside and outside of BridgeYear, and constantly reinforced that my priority was doing what was best for our students. Going back to the talk I had with my coach, I remembered that if my team trusted me and understood that I had the right intentions, then they would be willing to listen when it was time to get serious. I think this is exactly what happened. My team listened and acted when I expressed concerns about us not meeting goals or tracking student progress, etc. They were receptive to my feedback and none of it damaged our friendships because mutual respect had been established.
Just as things had to get real with advisors, the same happened with my bosses. In another one of my coaching sessions I was told that in my position I had to be an “advocate.” My coach explained that I had to communicate my team’s needs to them (the co-founders) in order for all of the team to be on the same page. It was another responsibility that took some owning up to because I had to manage up and communicate the not so pleasant things.
I got my chance when I realized that as BridgeYear was expanding, the focus on advising was getting lost in transition. With potential partners being attracted to our Career Test Drives (CTDs) the most, our time was mostly spent on CTD-related tasks and, in comparison, little time was being invested in advising. This was worrisome. I wanted us all to be 100% for students, but we felt that our CTD projects were more pressing. When I decided that this couldn’t go on for longer I sat down with one of the co-founders and told her that this had to change. Together, we brainstormed ways to get everyone to restructure priorities by tag-teaming during an all-team meeting in which advising took the spotlight. This was a wake-up call for advisors and since then, the team has done well at prioritizing.
I bring these situations up because in the process I’ve gotten to develop new skills and learn about myself in the workplace. I’ve learned that, though not always easy, it is possible to find a balance between friendship and professionalism. I’ve become better at listening and adapting to other’s needs. I’ve practiced managing up to my bosses, though I’d say not enough, but even that’s part of my growth. The lessons I’ve learned during my time with BridgeYear will surely resurface at Brandeis and beyond.
Other than the education I receive from my classes at Brandeis, I have learned a great deal from talking with Prof. Charles Chester from International Environmental Policy courses. We mostly talked about how environmental advocacy and NGO groups function around the world. But coming to work at National Consumers League, I realized the experience is very much the same for similar organizations in different fields. It does not matter what industry you work in, as long as the organization is trying to mobilize politicians, the way of work is very similar.
One thing we discussed was how these organizations are inefficient. He explained that for many organizations, the staff have to spend a lot of resources finding funding for the activities and for the organization itself to survive. So the time and money that are supposed to go to doing activities to support the cause actually go to paying people to apply for other grants that hopefully will pay for those activities. The problem is worsened if there are many third parties organization in between the original donor and the organization which actually does the practical work, as along the way there will just be more “leaking buckets,” as my professor said it. So by the time the money reaches the actual work, it will be a fraction of what the original amount of money. And that is certainly a waste.
Now, fortunately, National Consumers League is not the type of origination that does grassroots work. And other than traditional donations, where our sponsors just donate a certain amount to the organization, we have a project-based system for donors who want to give for a specific project that we run. We also have a department of two people specializing in opening networks and working with sponsors to get more grants. This funding system and the size of the sponsor relation department, in my opinion, give donors the confidence that their money, to the maximum degree possible, is not being used for the wrong purpose.
At Brandeis, I also had the pleasure of talking to my business-savvy upperclassman. We argue about how organizations are inefficient in a different way: how they are swayed by the power of the money from their donors. He argues that most organizations receive their money from for-profit business and thus are incredibly restricted in what and how they can support their agenda. Given that I am in a consumer-rights industry right now, this is particularly relevant. Business and consumers are not always the best harmony when it comes to benefits. I have experienced this struggle when I first worked on my project to identify and promote brands of products are child-labour free. Of course, I was discouraged with the concern that advertising (while I merely consider it educating and informing customers) certain brands would have the organization be at odds with other potential sponsors. It was incredibly dampening as I don’t see how we can be informing people while being influenced by those who give us the money we need to survive as an organization. Luckily, my doubt was slightly mitigated after I learned that our director once wrote a blog advocating for the limitation on soda drink sales in restaurants due to its being linked with diabetes–and some of those brands are actually our sponsors. The NCL, while taking precautions when giving out criticisms of certain brands, is still an independent entity that informs and advocates for what it believes in.
Of course, I cannot say it is or can be the same for every organization out there to operate with some kind of independency or with the maximum efficiency possible, nor can I say the NCL is the ideal model that every organization should follow. But I do believe for now we have the balance needed to carry out our work.
It has now been a month since I started working for Avodah and I am already thinking ahead about the ways in which I could help their cause even when I am done with the internship. I have already contacted friends and colleagues to let them know them about the Jewish Service Corps, which is a project unique in its scope and mission, as I have learned by working closely with Avodah’s alumni programming team.
The first aspect of the Service Corps that distinguishes it from most social justice and youth activism opportunities is the fact that it allows members the freedom to design their own path. Whether they are interested in offering legal assistance to immigrants or volunteering in the healthcare system, Avodah provides them with a wide range of placements, i.e. partner organizations for which they will work for the duration of the year. Poverty alleviation is the nucleus of the organization, but the Jewish Service Corps recognizes that the roots and effects of this phenomenon run too wide and deep to be tackled unilaterally. The many ways in which Avodah’s undertaking can be addressed is reflected in the plethora of directions in which Corps Members can branch out. This serves another key goal of the program, namely encouraging leadership among young people who want to be active members their communities. The Jewish Service Corps lets its participants choose their own journeys, while making sure they are not alone.
I think this is where the essence of the work, mission, and organizational culture in a nonprofit like Avodah truly lies. The Corps members become part of a cohort of like-minded young people, activists, volunteers, employees, and most importantly alumni of almost twenty years of programming. This is how the organization manages to impact more than just the current group of activists it trains. “Igniting social change”, the second part of Avodah’s motto, refers to this ‘family’ that bridges generational, geographic, social, and economic gaps. It refers to connecting a surgeon who enrolled as a healthcare enthusiast in the Service Corps fifteen years ago to a recent college graduate interested in refugees’ rights. Through this network, Community engagement, which is Avodah’s latest area of projects, ultimately amounts to community building.
So far, I have had a really interesting time at my internship with Umby, a platform that allows individuals to donate to support small amounts of insurance for people living in global poverty. I still have a couple weeks left to go, but as I look back and reflect, I feel like I’ve expanded my horizons and learned a lot.
I’ve learned a lot about social justice work. I’ve definitely redoubled my commitment to work in this sector after graduation. I’ve learned that I am open to a wide variety of issue areas. Before this, I knew very little about international poverty; frankly, it felt like an insurmountable issue that I didn’t have the energy to tackle when there are already so many problems at home. Now, I’ve learned so much about poverty in a huge variety of countries, from Cambodia to Mexico. It is heartbreaking that so many people face poverty, but it is heartening that there are real projects being done to combat it, often led by people from that region. I have learned a lot about microinsurance itself, its potential, and how it truly will help thousands of people moving forward. I hope that my organization has the ability to participate in this movement and help to make a difference.
I wish I had asked more questions from the beginning. Working for a startup means that a lot of our work is still in development. I wish I had spoken with my boss, who is the founder and CEO of the company, about all sorts of things from the beginning: her business plan, her media plan, the umbrella prototypes, and more. Now, I have had the opportunity to see a lot of these aspects come together; for example, we are in the process of contacting reporters to spread the word about the product, and I’ve seen mock-ups of the full website. These aspects have given me greater insight into what it looks like to start a business. I have the ambition of starting a nonprofit of my own someday, and these sorts of experiences are really valuable to see the nitty-gritty of how this happens. I just wish I had asked about this from the beginning. Luckily, I got to see them in the end!
For those who are interested in working with a nonprofit, particularly a startup, I would advise, above all, to be flexible. Things almost never go as planned, especially in the nonprofit world, and even more so in the startup world. I have always done well by being flexible and cheerful about doing a huge variety of tasks, even if those tasks involve filing for a while or Googling random facts about Mardi Gras (both tasks I’ve done during my working life, both of which ended up being useful in the end!). Being flexible also allows you to discover new things about yourself, such as your own creative interests. At least, it has for me! For example, I know that I’m not interested in marketing as a career, but by accepting this internship I found that I really love getting to write blog posts all day, or really write anything at all, which I think is knowledge that will serve me well – and be transferable – as I continue my working life.
Overall, I’ve had a pretty fun experience working for Umby, which has been very different from all the work environments I’ve had before. I’ve learned a lot about the sector, about the issues, and about myself during the past couple months, and I look forward to closing out my experience positively!
Looking back at my overall experience working at Green Map System, I am impressed by the variety of insights I have gained about social justice work in both the environmental and urban planning fields. Primarily, I have learned that technology is playing an increasingly important role in promoting awareness about environmental issues and driving new solutions. Through online mapping, community members can now learn and gain autonomy over the development of their neighborhoods in new ways and can communicate the value of green spaces more effectively.
Since starting my internship, I have had an impact on my organization in a variety of ways, all with the effect of bringing Green Map System up to speed with today’s technology. On Green Map System’s new webpage, one can now see countless stories that I have created describing Green Map System’s history, impact, and reach through different site mapping projects. With this in mind, I am really glad to have learned from this experience how meaningful it is to work in an organization that gives you challenging but significant responsibilities, as each contribution you make has the potential to impact the development and path of the organization.
On another note, I have learned from internship the challenges of commuting. I feel extremely fortunate to live in close enough proximity to Manhattan to use public transportation to get to work, however, I now recognize why living in the city during the internship experience would have been preferable. This experience has granted me more personal insight into the challenges of suburban sprawl and the importance of investments and innovations in public transportation. I think that had I known this earlier, I would have prepared to get up earlier and go to bed earlier so that I would feel more comfortable as I started my long and early trips to work. However, the tradeoff benefit of this living arrangement is being near my family and friends as well as in the green community that ultimately inspired one of my main internship projects.
Finally, for anyone wanting to pursue an internship or career in my field I would recommend gaining a broad background in sustainability while also developing specific skill sets that can be useful to an organization. A broad background allows one to pick up on the issues challenging different communities more easily and to relate specific challenges, such as hurricane risk and increasing asthma rates to overarching issues that could have led to them, such as climate change and air pollution. Meanwhile, some technical background or other hard skill set, from web design to statistical analysis, will provide incredible value to your organization that they will recognize quickly.
I am very thankful for the learning and professional opportunities I have had working at Green Map System and by being a Social Justice WOW Fellowship participant. This opportunity truly helped me understand what it is like to work on environmental issues from a technical perspective and in an urban space and I am really glad that I was able to pick up on so many different tasks and responsibilities as I have worked here. Every internship presents new learning opportunities and experience, but I can truly say that my Green Map System experience brought me a more diverse and exciting array of learning opportunities than I could have ever expected.
Towards the end of my internship, I gradually started to appreciate how multifactorial this internship is. As part of the Market, I am constantly motivated and pushed to learn more about the social justice purpose of this organization. From the carrying out of the Massachusetts State program – the Health Incentive Program – to multiple tours I have given to visiting kids’ group, not only did I gain a deeper understanding towards each vendor in the market, but more importantly, towards the mission of the Market.
To my surprise, my learning mostly takes place outside projects. As I know more and more about the Market, I started to have some original ideas of event programming. For example, I wanted to talk to vendors more, because, after all, they are the foundation of the Market. Then I tried to think of possible ways for me to do it. The most relevant ways would be using the Market’s social media platform. So I actively took over all the social media involved projects: taking pictures, Facebook live, Instagram live, etc. In this way, I would be able to improve my communication skill. I know that I am an introverted person, and am not good at talking to people. This internship offers an excellent opportunity to confront my weak points.
The biggest turning point of this internship is when I “interviewed” the Market’s community and outreach chair both to deepen my understanding of the organization, and to ask for her suggestions for office interns. I learned a lot of useful information regarding market strategic design, core missions, etc. Before the interview, I kind of just accepted the projects that needed to be done and finished up some small details of different projects. However, after knowing the five public impact goals of the market, I learned to spontaneously think of new projects and come up with new ideas, instead of asking around for projects. Although the point of having interns in the office is to help the staffs with projects, the main point is still to make work more productive. As I mentioned in my last blog post, I do think that it is extremely important to be creative and spontaneous. At only two year’s anniversary, the Market is still growing and experimenting. For example, the Market partnered up with a small tech company in East Boston and shot some recipe videos, including a goat cheese blueberry French toast, posted last week. I think both recipe video shooting and collaboration with tech company are very much an experiment rather than a long-term project. And I’m very curious how it will go in the future.
If I were to start this internship again, I would re-arrange my schedule a little bit. Now that I know work in the office and the Market better, I think it is better to come for a short time period in the morning, and stay over a longer periods. In that way, I would be able to experience all kinds of events in the Market, and also choose different days of the weeks to stay. Moreover, I really admire the focus on the development of small business, which I do think will be the future of the food industry. This new model will be infinitely more flexible and vivid than big industry. I really enjoy working here, and I’d definitely come back one day!
Throughout my internship I have learned so many valuable lessons. The most important one is that you have to be flexible, creative, and reflective because everything is a learning process. Working at a relatively new start-up has also reinforced this. The programs OSW runs are extremely new and depend heavily on the audience. For example, the program we run in downtown Oakland is extremely different from the program that we run in Alameda because there are two different, distinct demographic groups that attend each one. The people who attend these events are receptive to different movement coaches, music, and food, so we have to be extremely aware of what different people need and be flexible enough to change our program to fit their needs while still providing the same support.
At the end of one of our programs last week, my bosses came up to me and said, “We’re never letting you go. You have to stay and become head of HR and our operations director. You can’t go back to Boston.” Honestly, that meant so much to me because it showed me that I am actually making a difference. As an intern, I sometimes feel as though I am learning a lot from the organization and the experience, but that I am not giving back as much as they are giving me. This showed me that I was wrong. Now that I am taking this time to reflect, I think I helped the organization branch out and make connections with different providers in the area, find potential new interns for the fall (to replace me), and create a fluid transition when they shifted their main program to a module system earlier this month.
As I have written in previous posts, my internship is not a typical internship. My bosses push all of the interns to step outside of our comfort zones with projects, be vulnerable with them and each other, and be confident in everything that we do (whether or not we feel that way inside). I wish I had known this about the organization beforehand because I believe it would have taken me a lot less time to open up to them and become comfortable doing these things. I think I would have been a better intern from the very beginning instead of half way through.
My advice to any future interns at Open Source Wellness or people seeking an internship in healthcare or nonprofit work is to be open to new experiences and different types of people. A career in social justice or health care both involve working with people who have backgrounds that are completely different from yours and from each other. Be open to them and what you will learn from one another. Also, make connections and be authentic. Oftentimes, when people are struggling with difficult health issues, they are embarrassed or distressed about their situation. It is extremely important to connect with them on a personal level and share your own story and struggles so they know they are not alone and have nothing to be ashamed of. Finally, be passionate. A career in public health or community health is not easy because change happens slowly. Only people who are truly passionate about healthcare and community health will have the patience to make lasting change.
Here are the only two photos I have at work:
(The interns practicing taking each other’s blood pressure)
(Me taking a patient’s blood pressure during our program)
(picture from the first day from work. Hard to believe it’s been so long!)
It’s an exciting and sad feeling to know that I’m at the end of my internship. As much as I look forward to my senior year at Brandeis, I’ve really enjoyed being in Chicago with IWJ. Chicago has been a gorgeous city, and I’ve enjoyed my time here from the food to the Cubs enthusiasm,to the lakefront views.
(pictured: picture perfect lakefront view near the office)
It’s been exciting during this time to do the ground work for implementing social justice, and understanding what I can do better to continue the fight. For instance, one thing that really makes a difference is being a regular donor. Even if it’s a small amount of money, having a source of guaranteed income can help projects progress more efficiency and help the budgeting process.
Secondarily, the people you surround yourselves with are important. I’ve had days of the week where the activity was putting together mailings or making calls. Having friendly and amiable colleagues made all the difference in undertaking these tasks and understanding the importance of what we were doing. The diversity of my workplace helped me to appreciate the full impact of our community outreach and helped me to always conceptualize social justice concepts like eliminating wage theft through a variety of lenses. For instance, wage theft is experienced differently in different communities and tailoring a message of awareness to the specific group of people can make all the difference in seminar and workshop feedback. Having friends that are also willing to be open and educate themselves about these issues can do wonders to creating a better place.
I like to think I added a different perspective as well while in the office. Most of my office is from the east coast and Midwest, while I spent my formative years in the west, primarily the southwest. I found sometimes that individuals from other states can be dismissive of Arizonan dialogue concerning immigration and labor because of political disputes. Maybe Arizona isn’t the first place that is referenced for social justice initiatives, but I still think it’s important to hear our stories. There is no one answer to complicated questions, and I’m glad that social justice is beginning to incorporate the perspectives of people from different states into understanding policy impacts instead of generalizing based on preconceived notions.
Beyond that realization, advice to future students and what I wish I knew beforehand go hand in hand. I wish I had a clearer idea of my obligations at the internship from the beginning so I could have started more targeted instead of generalized projects. It would have also helped to understand how my small projects played a bigger role in our overall mission. But I still learned more about my dedication and resiliency in the process.
I’ve reconfirmed my commitment to always be adaptable, humble and willing to work my way up. I’ve taken pride what I’ve done so I can appreciate the little victories before striving for larger aspirations so as to avoid burnout.
That in mind, I encourage you to take this time to donate to a group that represents your issues. Because if you feel seriously about social justice, actions and funds are invaluable. Here are a few of IWJ’s national affiliates here that are doing great work to learn some more. If funds are scarce, ask how you can volunteer for a local organization.
I hope you’ve enjoyed my blog posts and I hope I’ve painted a clear picture of a job in the SJ field!
(A little piece of Brandeis away from Brandeis at a Chicago event)
My time at HIVE has taught me a lot about social justice work and how to weave social justice into a professional career. When I think about HIVE, I think about how HIV work is innately activist work for its complex history ridden with homophobia, racism, and sexism. For this reason, finding that activist spark I want is not so difficult at HIVE. Although HIVE still works within a larger, more traditional medical institution, they are actively working towards uplifting marginalized communities. To read about how HIVE is affecting HIV medical providers, visit: https://www.hiveonline.org/for-providers/
The work that I have done at HIVE has been impactful in both the development of HIVE and of myself. The patient database that I have spent so much time working on, and will hopefully be completed by the time my time at HIVE finishes, allows HIVE to answer critical questions related to HIV in the advancement of their work. The database allows users to more quickly pull information about women and couples affected by HIV and how HIV shapes their experiences. For example, the database will shed light on what it takes to be engaged in HIV care and how one might feel the stigma of HIV, among many other things. These questions are ones that are seldom answered or integrated into HIV care but are what necessitate making HIV care dynamic and comprehensive.
What I wish I had known when I had started HIVE was what it would feel like to not be interacting with the patients that I am inputting into the database. Each day, I am reading medical providers’ notes on someone’s physical, social, and mental well-being. The notes are often in depth and cover a lot of vulnerable information, but simultaneously the note cannot capture everything about the patient. Many of the challenges with the database include how to communicate the most key information about someone’s health. Recently, at a HIVE meeting, we were talking about how to capture one’s experience with HIV and stigma. As this is something that many folks affected by HIV experience, it was important to write into the database. While this is true, it’s also difficult to reduce something as complex and ever-changing as stigma into a yes or no option in a database, which is reflected in the fact that I read notes about patients and their most intimate experiences, but will never meet them. It’s difficult to reconcile the two, but seeing how people’s experiences with HIV and the conversation around HIV have changed over the years feels hopeful.
Some advice that I would give to someone who wants to become involved in social justice work is that there are so many people who are doing the work that needs to be done. There are so many pushing back against oppressive systems, and because there are so many ways in which oppression manifests, there is a vast majority of organizations who are all doing different, yet equally significant, work. One experience I had recently was participating in the San Francisco AIDS Walk where organizations from all over the Bay Area gather to support HIV programs and services. There were over 100 organizations who participated, which in turn illustrates the diversity of HIV activism—so many unique organizations who all support a common goal (to read about the AIDS Walk, visit: https://sf.aidswalk.net/About). In other words, there are so many people, from the grassroots level to the institutional level, fighting for activist causes and all that one needs to do is become involved.
My time at HIVE has taught me a significant amount about how one must advocate for social causes within the network of an institution. As mentioned in a previous blog post, HIVE disrupts the assumed benevolence of medical care because even working within a network that is meant to help people—the medical institution, for example—there still is a lot of prejudice and oppression within the institution.
One case recently is the changes that are and have been taking place in regards to providing housing for San Francisco’s homeless population. There are many details of these changes that I know little about, but the essence of the changes is prioritizing housing for those who are living on the streets and have not had indoor residence for a certain amount of time. But homelessness does not always mean living on the streets. Moreover, these changes are redefining what it means to be homeless and are, in effect, marginalizing other strategies of survival. For many pregnant women, actually living on the streets is not a viable option, and while they still are without a home, they find residence with emergency housing, with friends, in their car, etc. The changes that are taking place within the housing network in San Francisco are indubitably pertinent to HIVE patients who are either homeless or marginally housed and employ these methods of survival. When the news of these developments broke, the HIVE team got to work on pushing back against the changes and continuing to support the patients who were already or were to be affected. This New York Times article explains more about San Francisco homelessness. Another San Francisco-based organization—Homeless Prenatal Program—is doing similar work.
Advocating for vulnerable populations takes work, energy and dedication. It relies heavily on resiliency. Because the work that HIVE does is so comprehensive and is not limited to the medical sphere, there is an active energy that is present in each member of the HIVE team. In other words, this work is not passive and each HIVE team member is active in their work and advocacy. When I think about what I have learned so far about myself in the workplace, I think a lot about HIVE’s social worker. As stated before, the HIVE team is composed of people with different career backgrounds so as to provide the most comprehensive care they can. I think specifically about HIVE’s social worker because she works most directly with the effects of institutional changes such as those taking place in the housing network. There is no doubt in my mind that she is working tirelessly for the safety and well-being of HIVE patients. The way she speaks of the obstacles that face HIVE patients, and combatting those obstacles, as well as the way she speaks of their successes strikes a chord with me. I know that whatever field I enter, whatever career path I may take, I want to have the same energy that she has with her in working day to day advocating for and supporting vulnerable populations.
I have learned many things about social justice since my time here, but the one thing that has stuck with me has been to keep yourself and others aware of our impact domestically and globally. Change starts with knowledge and knowledge is power. If we as a community are staying up to date and aware of the problems we face, it becomes easier for us to stand up together and fight for the right causes to make positive, long lasting change. The advice I would give to someone in a comparable situation to me would be make the best of the time you have. Opportunities like these come and go so quickly that you don’t have much time to reflect on what you’ve learned or how valuable those lessons are.
Before coming to AJWS I wish I had known that individual actions are more substantial than you think. As cliché as it may sound, each person can leave a mark on something. I feel like I have already done that here at AJWS. People risk everything just to ensure others are prioritized and taken care of. For example, in an article publish recently by an LGBT newspaper, our very own Robert Bank was featured and speaks about the impact one man has had on his South African community, despite the brutality he faces regularly.
Before my internship here at AJWS, I was hesitant about taking on the responsibility of another internship. In my previous experience, working as an intern was less than exciting and often it felt rather tedious and boring. While working and learning for free isn’t always going to be a joyous occasion, it is intended to be meaningful. Since my time here at AJWS is nearly over, I can confidently say that I would never pass up another internship opportunity, much less one centered around Jewish values. I feel this way simply because you never know what will come out of the time you spend with the organization, the connections you’ll make along the way and the skills you’ll acquire consciously or subconsciously. From the beginning, I have felt very fortunate not only to be considered for the position but to have been accepted and allowed the opportunity to do this. Every day when I am surrounded by people who strongly believe in the work they’re doing, it is motivation for me to continue to prioritize my academics and my future career. I am very much considering the possibility of working in a field that emphasizes and works to promote human rights globally. There are many job titles and positions in the corporate sector as well that hold the promotion of civil social responsibility to a great degree.
I will miss the time I have spent with my fellow intern peer Madeline, who has sat with me every day this summer and helps to keep me focused and on top of task. I will miss Aliza who started me here at AJWS and has taught me so much about the dedication and patience it takes to be successful. Without her guidance and insight, the projects I have had here at AJWS would not be carried out with such detail and poise which she has helped teach me. I will miss Neely who has believed in my abilities from the first time we met and knew I had the tools and resources to take matters into my own hands when necessary. She has been a constant source of light, a confidence and reassurance booster as well as my own personal concierge giving me tips and tricks about how to navigate NYC. I will miss Kaylan who made me laugh with something witty she said every time I saw her. I will miss Robert who is leading this organization beautifully and cares immensely about our mission. However, I will not miss the freezing cold A/C blasting from 9:00am to 5:00pm making the office feel like Antarctica. As my summer comes to a close, I look forward to being home with my family before heading back to school and beginning my journey as a young advocate and leader for human rights on campus.
Reflecting on my time at Boston University’s School of Public Health researching racism, firearm violence and police brutality, it is hard to believe that it is almost over. This experience has been very eye opening and I am thankful that I was able to work in issues that I am passionate about. I learned many interesting thing doing this research that has given me a new perspective on America. The first month and a half of my work, me and the two other interns created an entire database from 1990 to 2015 measuring various indicators of racism. We are the first to do this. There have been other articles claiming to measure the most racist states like this one for example, but it does not have multiple measurements or chart it for 25 years.
From our findings, I discovered that all 50 states have a massive problem and all struggle with racism, not just conservative states. I also learned that the Midwest is actually the worst area, while previously I believed that South would be the most racist. After gathering all of our data we began to analyze it and compared it to police shootings, firearm homicide rates and disparities between white and black victims. We discovered that disparities between firearm homicide rates are strongly correlated to the racism measurements, meaning that states that were more racist had higher numbers of black homicide rates. This discovery was not too surprising.
A discovery that did surprise me was that we did not find a strong correlation between the state level of racism and black-white disparities of people shot by police. This could be that some of the numbers we were working with were too small and skewed the data.
Another thing we measured was how states improved over the years and if they made any progress with these various measures. We discovered that there was a very strong negative correlation between disparities in police shootings and progress. This means that states that were working to be less racist and have improved over the course of 25 years had lower rates of disparities in police shootings, regardless of where they stand on the racist scale we invented. These were some of the sites that were useful when conducting our research.
All of the data was collected by me and two other interns, meaning that I had a significant impact on final results of this work. I believe that my work was vital and the three of us were very involved in this project. We are working to publish our database as well as writing a paper. We are allowing anyone to access this database, meaning I will have an impact on other research that is based off of this data. Before I stated that I was very overwhelmed by the workload, independence, and importance of the work I was doing. There is no other database measuring racism state by state for a span of 25 years. I was responsible for finding and plotting all the data and I was very worried that I would make a mistake or mess something up. After looking back on all the work I did, I wish that I can more trust and have confidence in myself.
The advice I would give to anyone else working on something similar would be to not be intimidated or overwhelmed by the work. To anyone who feels that they may be under-qualified for a position they were given, the best way to learn is through experience and hands-on work, not necessarily just schooling. I would also say that America is not completely doomed and there are people and organizations like BU committed to solving issues like these. I believe that by being given so much responsibility, I was able to accomplish more than I have ever thought I could.
My internship has been a wonderful experience, and I am so glad I have had the opportunity to work at Orchard Cove continuing care retirement community. Aside from the main tasks I was assigned to do, I was given a lot of flexibility to explore other areas of Orchard Cove. My supervisor helped set me up to become a CarFit technician, lead a vision board project, lead a field trip to a nature park, shadow an occupational therapist, survey some residents, gather surveys about Orchard Cove fitness, shadow her Vitalize 360 sessions, create flyers for events, and more. I was able to really see how a team worked and do my part in helping the team.
My knowledge of social justice work has expanded since working at Orchard Cove. Access to a stimulating and meaningful day to day experience for the elderly is not consistent across the elderly population of the United States. Orchard Cove serves a clientele that is mostly middle- to upper-class with significant financial resources and therefore there was substantial stimulating programming. However, what I discovered is that most such places do not have this level of care, and that it is a privilege that Orchard Cove has these resources and opportunities. Other places around the country trying to do the Vitalize 360 program don’t necessarily have the interdisciplinary team and the resources to best support the program. If social justice means having equal opportunity to care without regards to financial resources, than the current situation is inequitable.
The biggest impact I would say I made was helping to strengthen the process of the Vitalize 360 Program. Just recently, my supervisor and I solidified a list of teachable steps for the program to use to train other coaches. We made a list for how the program works for new residents and how it works for current residents already participating in the program. In making the overall steps of this process, we were able to figure out where the vitalize coaches role ends and where the doctor’s role begins. By doing Vitalize 360, we are making sure that residents reach their maximum potential of wellness and promote them having conversations about what matters most to them with their doctor and their health care proxy. I took part in streamlining the program with the medical staff to make the delivery of care more efficient. Before we streamlined the program, the medical staff did not necessarily receive all of the information to align the treatment with the patient’s goals. We overall have increased organization of the care team. Our program has a great impact that structures goals for the resident.
Something I know now that I wish I knew when I started was the background of the clientele I would be serving. I also wish I had known the amount of flexibility and extra time in my schedule. The advice I would give to someone else who wants to pursue an internship or career in my organization is that the staff are wonderful and have a good communication system with one another. It is important when working with this population to take each person where they are at, have patience and flexibility, and always treat with respect. It is important to not be afraid to branch out within the company and see what’s going on, because I found that a lot of the positions are very interconnected.
I came in thinking I would be able to match each of the clients to a “main dentist.” That sounds great, doesn’t it? I personally think that all of the clients that the agency serves deserve the care that they need. I wanted for each client to at least receive a comprehensive exam and cleaning.
We often underestimate the importance of our oral health and visiting the dentist twice a year. Medical doctors are often seen as the more important ones, where dentists may sometimes be seen as not as qualified as medical doctors. It’s very evident in our society where dental and medical insurances are separate. Not one insurance covers both services.
However, as days and weeks passed, I was informed that it is not needed that each client has a main dentist. I could not wrap my head around that statement. My supervisor believes that a dentist is only needed when there is an emergency. “But what about the cleaning? What about the exam to determine if the client needs care?” I kept questioning to myself. For the weeks to come, I will definitely try to get this message across: “A comprehensive exam is needed at the very beginning that you start any procedure with a dentist. You cannot wait until you have unbearable pain that you go and seek a dentist. One should see a dentist once the service is available to you. Cleanings are needed every six months. Preventative care is as important as any other treatments like extractions and root canals. Preventative care is what prevents one from undergoing those painful experiences that everyone is scared of.” I hope that through this message, the agency aims to provide each client with the dental care that is needed and readily available.
However, I’ve learned that this social justice service of providing equal care to all may not seem as easy as it sounds. We took into consideration the cost and eligibility of receiving care. Medicaid has its limits, and so do the pockets of the clients. Transportation is also a huge burden for the clients. With an English language barrier, it is often difficult for the clients to explore what the land of their new life has to offer. Some of these clients live frugal lifestyles where for parents, spending $12 for school bus transportation for their children to attend school is hard to do. Considering all these factors of limited language skills, transportation, and money, it is hard for one to hope for these clients to access the different services that society can offer, including dental care. Thus, closing any gaps, whether for health care or education, is very difficult to achieve unless all of these factors and limitations are wiped out.
So far, I’ve been able to help with data entry into the server provided by the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, review clients’ files so that the agency passes the monitoring sessions, contact many insurance companies and dental clinics, and develop a curriculum based on oral health techniques and resources. The work I have done is very diverse in its nature. I have been able to get a taste of the different services offered to the refugees and the inside workings of the agency. Something that I now know that I wish I had known earlier would be the different insurance plans and the benefits that come with each. There are so many different plans, with each having different eligibility requirements and benefits.
For anyone that would like to come and volunteer or intern with the Refugee Services of Texas, I highly recommend and encourage doing so. Interning at the agency has given me different world-views and reality checks. I advise those who are interested to be open-minded and welcoming to all. There is so much to learn here. Be able to understand and withstand any changes to your plan of action.
Holy Rosary Cemetery and Union Carbide Complex, Taft, Louisiana, 1998 by Richard Misrach
Getting to see from the inside how a documentary film is created has been an invaluable experience for me. In the past, from the perspective of a viewer, I had no idea about the extensive thought and planning that is put into every minute detail.
But that amount of work is necessary—it’s vital to making something that’s good, that stays true and authentic to the story and portrays it in a way that is meaningful and lasting.
As I’ve detailed in my previous posts, the situation on the Gulf Coast is dire. Countless vulnerable communities are being threatened by an encroaching petrochemical industry and a government unwilling to protect its citizens.
Cypress Tree, Alligator Bayou, 1998 by Richard Misrach
This is a beautiful, fragile region of our nation, a place that has witnessed firsthand some of the most tumultuous moments of United States history. And, too, it is often forgotten and exploited; its delicate ecosystem is on the verge of collapse. As climate change accelerates, the Gulf Coast is one of the first regions that’s being impacted—and it’s dramatic: Louisiana is losing approximately a football field of coastal wetlands every hour.
Remarkable people live here, too, struggling to lead normal lives as plants continue to spew toxic chemicals into their air and water. I’ve already detailed the tragedy of Mossville, Louisiana, a majority African American community founded by runaway slaves that’s disintegrating because of aggressive petrochemical industry expansion.
The resilience of these communities is extraordinary, but the bigger picture can be very discouraging. Communities of color are being systematically targeted and exploited by a ravenous petrochemical industry and complicit governments, and precious little is being done about it.
This is where I believe there becomes an urgent need to tell these stories, to put faces to the facts and figures of the suffering, to broadcast the human beings that live in these communities.
For me, this is why my time this summer at Fiege Films has been so rewarding and engaging. In doing my (admittedly small) part as a Research Assistant here, I’ve been able to contribute to this overall mission, and hopefully help get a littler closer to bringing about justice for these communities.
The film, currently titled In the Air, is in the production phase. You can follow our social media for updates and more information, and you can donate to help offset production costs and make this project a reality.
Working for the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination has opened my eyes to the extensive amount of work, dedication and passion that is necessary for a successful social justice organization to work. I am constantly inspired by the commitment that the attorneys demonstrate. Specifically, as an Intake Intern, I have seen first-hand the impact our organization has on each individual that walks through the door. Even if we simply take the time to do a consultation, we are able to foster a safe environment to allow people to express their frustration and sadness.
While the internship was a tremendous learning experience for me, I also made mutual contributions to the MCAD. As an Intake Intern, I conducted daily interviews that would otherwise be done by attorneys and investigators. By taking one responsibility off the investigator’s shoulders, they now have more time to devote to cases. Additionally, often the MCAD takes on more cases than they have employees to handle. I have had the unique opportunity to take on some of these cases on my own. Specifically, I have been able to finish the investigative process and write up the final dispositions. Taking on these extra responsibilities is mutually beneficial as it allows me to learn new skills first hand while lessening the organization’s workload.
When I first found out that I received this internship I looked forward to strengthening my interpersonal skills and making a direct impact. While I knew that my job would be emotionally taxing, I wish I would have been thoroughly prepared for the day to day interactions that have become emotionally exhausting. I am often faced with a crying individual that has been wrongfully terminated, or an angry one that feels taken advantage of. It is in those situations that I see the true purpose and need for social justice work.
Despite the challenges I have faced at my internship, I have extremely enjoyed the experience. Specifically, it has provided me with the unique opportunity to learn about the intersection between law and advocacy and see the inner workings of a social justice organization. After this summer, I have a clearer vision of my future career path and have made significant networking connections. For future interns at the MCAD or those considering a career in law, I would definitely highlight the importance of networking. With any career, it is vital to make close relationships as they can become the basis for future opportunities.
As this is my last blog post I think it would be useful to highlight to final process that cases go through at the MCAD. Once an investigator labels a case as probable cause or lack of probable cause, the complainant has the opportunity to mediate and attempt to come to a settlement agreement. If a settlement cannot be reached, the cases go to hearings to be decided by a higher court. These hearings are often conducted by the MCAD. Below is a picture of one of the hearing rooms.
If I had more time at the MCAD I would have loved to learn more about the legal department side of the organization. However, working on the enforcement side has allowed me the opportunity to see the justice process unfold.
My time interning at the Center for Autism Research has taught me valuable lessons about social justice work as well as how I can actively be more involved. Before beginning my internship, I thought of social justice and social justice work as being large in scope, however, I have now realized that social justice can simply mean working to accomplish any ends that benefit the community. The term social justice is not exclusive to helping refugees or volunteering for an organization working to end world hunger, it can be on a much smaller scale and much more personal.
Thus, at the beginning of my internship, I had some trouble seeing how CAR was directly linked to social justice work. It took some time and experience at the center, but I now understand that every project I assisted with at the Center for Autism Research benefitted the community and therefore was extremely valuable work and falls into the category of social justice. If I could go back to when I first started my internship and give myself advice, I would let myself know that social justice comes in many different forms. Those forms are not always so apparent but it is important to look at projects and assignments from multiple angles in order to understand how they are currently benefitting or can potentially assist children with autism, their families, and the community.
I would also let myself know that research projects take time and it is important not to rush the process. My supervisor tasked me with watching several videos from the Infant Brain Imaging Study (IBIS). This study looks at infants that are at high risk for autism because they have an older sibling on the spectrum as well as low-risk infants and brings them in at multiple time points for neuroimaging and behavioral assessments. I watched videos of the behavioral assessments and recorded each time that the clinician tried to get the participant’s attention and differentiated between bids that used name calls and other types of bids. This was a long process, however, at the end, I was able to compile the data and actually find trends. When I showed these trends, such as increased number of bids over time and more types of bids used for kids that eventually were diagnosed with autism, to my supervisor, she was so excited. I had gone through the classic research process of collecting data, finding trends, asking questions, and generating hypotheses. Now, we are looking at even more videos of behavioral assessments to collect additional data and to determine whether my hypotheses hold up with a larger sample.
I would give this same advice to other people interested in pursuing an internship or a career in autism research as well, that they should take their time and investigate multiple perspectives. I would also advise them to take advantage of the resources around them. This could mean asking other people in the office questions about their daily work or reaching out to other professionals in the field and learning about their career paths. The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia has this directory that I have found extremely valuable for researching career options and making connections.
I am sad that my time at the Center for Autism Research is coming to a close but I am
grateful for all that I have learned and for the research projects I have had the opportunity to impact!
One of my favorite things about interning in this lab at Brown Liver Research Center is having the opportunity to be mentored by my PI, someone who is very qualified and accomplished in her field of research. This is exemplified well through her multitude of publications on nitrosamines and their detrimental effects on the brain. On several occasions of researching background information for different projects, I have come across articles written by her and the other main lab technician. Here is a link to an article by my PI that I happened across earlier this week: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19542621. It is very impressive and inspiring to work under someone who is so prominent in this niche of research.
Another fun aspect of working in this lab is the daily afternoon tradition called Cake Hour, when different people volunteer to bring a dessert and everyone comes together to enjoy it at the end of the day. There is even a blog dedicated to this tradition, here is the link: www.cakehour.com. Cake Hour is a really nice way of bringing the lab together when throughout the day people often tend to be isolated within their own research projects.
The people in the lab are overall very friendly and helpful, often willing to go out of their way to help others and answer questions. I find this aspect especially important, as most of what I am doing was completely new to me at the start of the summer. My personal learning goal is to strive to understand everything I am doing in the lab, and feeling comfortable asking questions and seeking clarification has allowed me to stay on track with this goal.
Interning in a research lab has differed from academic life in the way that everything I am learning is directly correlated to a hands-on experience. I really enjoy this approach to learning because it gives more direction and focus to my education and allows me to solidify and further understand the new knowledge by actually utilizing it in a project. I am learning more technical skills rather than the overarching and broad knowledge of many of my academic classes.
Through the experience of interning in this lab I have further developed skills that I can transfer both to my academics and future career plans. I have learned various protocols including slice culture, gel electrophoresis, duplex ELISA, PCR, MALDI, BCA, microsectioning and H&E staining.
Here is a picture of the white plates used in an ELISA experiment being incubated on a shaking device and the ELISA protocol I typed from my notes.
I will apply many of these techniques next year in Biology Lab, allowing me to feel more comfortable and knowledgeable in the class. Additionally, having lab experience on my resume will allow me to be a more competitive candidate for future research labs, as I will already have a wide range of knowledge and applicable experience.
In addition to improving my scientific skill set, I have also built on my interpersonal skills and workplace professionalism. By working with people who are older than I am, whether graduate students or adults, I have become better at connecting with people not my age. Furthermore, this internship has allowed me the experience of working in a professional setting and a better understanding of the associated decorum.
Jacksonville, North Carolina is home to more country music stations than all other radio stations combined, has the best fast food chain in the world, Waffle House, and is also known for its most beloved non-profit, Possumwood Acres. The two months that I spent there were filled with a million new experiences–I tasted grits for the first time, learned how to determine if a bird is dehydrated/emaciated, and saw a wild horse colony on an island. Now that my experience is quickly coming to a close I can say that I was really lucky to be exposed to the inner workings of a non-profit, the techniques necessary to take care of injured wildlife, and the “southern mentality.” It’s amazing what one person can do when they set their mind to it. Or when they get an unpaid internship and want to get as much out of the experience as they can. Either way you can’t go wrong.
Having completed a whopping 245 hours at Possumwood Acres, I am really proud to say that I learned beyond what I initially anticipated. I met all of the requirements for the “General Checklist” and went on to begin to complete the “Advanced Intern Checklist,” a fact of which I am very proud of. I am extremely satisfied with the experience I got interning at Possumwood Acres, and I can most certainly say that it helped me determine what I want to do with my future. Although I very much enjoyed my involvement in animal care (despite the stress associated with the job), I can honestly say that though I will not be continuing this specific avenue for a career, I am definitely invested in continuing my path in the environmental field. This internship has solidified my interest in protecting the environment in the many forms that that may come in. From this experience I learned that I am even more passionate about animals than I originally anticipated and that I am capable of learning a great deal in a short period of time.
For anyone interested in getting an internship, I would apply as early as possible. I managed to get this internship in early November. The earlier you start looking for internships, the more likely it is that you’ll actually get one. Employers will also be more likely to hire you for the job because the application pool is much smaller in early November and December. I would also try to narrow down your search to a specific type of internship, so you aren’t wasting your time applying for a position that you aren’t interested in. I knew that I absolutely wanted to work with animals so I bypassed anything that seemed like a glorified office worker position.
I think I am most proud of myself for doing something that was outside of my comfort zone because although I knew that the work would be tough, grueling, and hard at times, I also knew it would be extremely satisfying.
Working at WINGS, I’ve picked up and developed quite a few skills. This has been my first internship and one of my first jobs working somewhere where I was not previously affiliated with anyone. So, other than the technical aspects of domestic violence, one of the major things that I have learned has been about life in a workplace.
Initially, I was very apprehensive about meeting coworkers and interacting with them. Throughout the summer I have gained invaluable workplace skills and experience collaborating with coworkers. Additionally, within this internship I have been able to take on a leadership role as the head of the camp. Thus, I gained a lot of experience supervising other volunteers and staff as well as in planning and logistics. All of these skills are ones that I believe I can take with me as I continue on in the future, regardless of what my future job is. By nature, I’m not very outspoken, and I feel that during my time at WINGS I’ve made large steps towards being my assertive in my role.
As mentioned before, during my training I learned a lot about not only domestic violence but also about elder abuse, suicide and suicide prevention, rural women, domestic violence perpetrators, rural women, and the legal system among other things. Though only 40-hours, I gained basic knowledge on all these topics which I can then take along with me in life. Self-care was greatly emphasized during the training and throughout my internship, and I know the self-care tips, tricks, games, and activities are ones that will be valuable throughout my life.
Running a summer camp is nothing like simply being a counselor. The number of campers ranges from 2-10 and the ages range from 3-16, meaning a variety of different activities and games are needed to cater to everyone’s individual needs. On top of this, it is necessary to remember that the children are victims of domestic violence and, thus, a trauma-specific approach must be applied during all situations. Therefore, all these factors must be accounted for when planning each day of camp. One of the ideas we try to implement each week is to have a weekly theme. Past themes include: sports, summer, art, holidays, and carnival. Bringing themes into the week ensures that there will be different games and crafts each week and gets the kids excited about something as they try to anticipate themes and tie in their own recommended activities each week. As a result, planning can sometimes be difficult, but it’s very worth it. My planning, management, and administrative skills have all be tested and improved throughout the internship, and I know that the skills I have gained are some that I will carry with me throughout my future career and life.
For additional information, facts, and statistics about domestic violence please click here.
First and foremost, I would like to extend my deepest thanks to the Brandeis Hiatt Career Center for this opportunity.
Prior to this internship, I knew nothing about hepatitis B. After reading scientific papers my first day, I realized the complexity of hepatitis B and the importance of educating the public about it. (In fact, I even went home and urged my family members to check their immunity status.) I then read Charles B. Wang Community Health Center’s hepatitis B educational comic book and was trained to administer comic book evaluation surveys. For the next three weeks, research was underway: I asked patients in the waiting rooms of the Health Center to read the comic book and complete an evaluation. Each surveying day was different. Sometimes, I would encounter lots of willing participants; other days, there was less success. I especially loved it when patients had questions about the comic because interesting conversations would often ensue.
During the second half of my internship, I input data from 100 surveys into Microsoft Excel, analyzed subpopulations (by gender, education level, and language preference), and created tables/graphs summarizing overall trends. Finally, I wrote an abstract for the 2018 American Public Health Association conference describing the results of our health education material evaluation. Since the evaluation is now complete, 10,000 copies of the comic book (English, Chinese – other translations coming soon) will be printed and shipped to 30 national public health organizations by the end of the month – just in time for World Hepatitis Day. Aside from conducting research, I participated in Project ECHO clinic video conferences, comic book dissemination meetings, press conference planning meetings, and research grand rounds. Some of my other projects included mapping out comic book distribution sites and making a program for the hepatitis B press conference hosted by the Health Center (see pictures below).
Overall, I felt that my tasks were meaningful, not just busywork. I genuinely enjoyed surveying and analyzing data, especially since I had personal interactions with each of the participants. Although my responsibilities fell under the research department, my supervisors were supportive in helping me get clinical experience, too. They are among the many good natured people I have met at Charles B. Wang Community Health Center, and I have learned so much from their mentorship. Ultimately, this internship helped me develop a strong interest in immigrant population health, and instilled in me the importance of language fluency and health advocacy.
I highly recommend interning at a non profit organization. Some facilities are understaffed, but you will really get to see the impact you’re making. You will also learn more from the population you serve than you ever could from a textbook. By no means is social justice work easy. It requires unrelenting devotion, grit, and love for people. However, being on the forefront of change is extremely rewarding.
If you are considering a career in health care, my advice to you is to be openminded. Shadow various occupations, pay attention to job satisfaction levels, and observe what day-to-day life is like before pursuing a specific field. If any of this resonates with you, I wish you the best of luck on your career path! Everyone’s journey is different, but thank you for joining me on mine.
On my first day at Boston Children’s Hospital I was full of a variety of emotions. I was excited for the new opportunities that awaited me and to build new friendships and connections hopefully for the long term. I was jovial of the fact that I will be doing something that my education at Brandeis has prepared me for, and able to participate in a real life application of the material I’m taught at Brandeis. While I was filled with such positive emotions and a readiness to prove myself, I was also nervous of how much of an impact I would really have, whether I would actually enjoy myself this summer, and whether or not I would succeed in this internship.
My first day of work consisted of me becoming familiar with what it means to work in a research facility. I first introduced myself to everyone at the office and was able to meet such a diverse group of people. There weren’t just doctors or research assistants at the lab but also engineers, statisticians, software developers, and neuroscientists. Everyone had their own unique role yet each role depended on others in order to be successful. I was first required to complete CITI Training which is Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative where I was able to get familiar with the different research protocols and regulations, especially regulations that are set by the IRB, International Review Board.
Afterwards, I was able to attend a weekly group meeting for everyone to share their progress updates and seek advice or help on something that they’re trying to solve. It was interesting because in the lab it is not just one research group, but a multitude of research groups. There are different research groups working on different nerves in the body depending on their location and the purpose those nerves serve. In addition to talking about progress in their respective tasks, some people present current or past research papers that they read and find to be useful. During one of the weekly meetings I realized the seriousness of what I’m actually doing and the importance of results in research. I also realized that one doesn’t necessarily solve an issue or get results right away. Sometimes you have to start from scratch multiple times in the process, as a result learning from your mistakes. The weekly meetings overall emphasized the importance of learning and expanding knowledge.
As a programming intern my first task was to familiarize myself with the current medical imaging software that is being used for that specific task and then find the different features and functions that the software has to offer along with the drawbacks that characterize the software. In conclusion I was able to get a better understanding of what my internship would actually entail also what type of programming I would do. While my role will be very technical, it was important to learn my first day how important it is to become comfortable in a different academic environment, how to build relationships and learn from people with different roles, and what it means to conduct research.
When I started my internship at MUA, I knew that I was going to have a wider variety of tasks than I had performed at any of my previous internships. As a business major, I was drawn to the non-profit management side of this internship, including outreach, development, marketing, and digital media. At the same time, I wanted to utilize the internship to improve my Spanish fluency. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, I was drawn to this internship because of the organization’s mission: to help low-income Latina women learn English, gain employable skills, and become leaders in their communities and in society at large.
Because I had so many interests coming into this internship, I was given an accordingly wide array of responsibilities for the summer, and have been given the opportunity to develop and utilize many different skills. On the business end of the internship, I have learned valuable lessons about the importance and difficulty of identifying and adequately reaching a target market. As in many nonprofits, this task is made even more difficult for MUA because there exist three distinct target markets to identify, analyze, and reach: the group of people MUA serves through its programming, the group of people to whom it wants to disseminate its message, and the group of people that fund its operations. These three groups have different habits and lifestyles, and we need to make sure that marketing and outreach messages reach them through the appropriate avenues. For example, even though one of my jobs this summer has been managing the Facebook page, the students that utilize MUA’s services do not tend to be active Facebook users. So why do we have a Facebook page? The answer is that we use social media to spread awareness about the mission of MUA, establish its reputation in the local community, and reach potential donors and volunteers. Accordingly, I must tailor the content on social media to those that I am trying to reach.
On the other end of my responsibilities this summer, the biggest challenge I have faced was teaching an English class. The extent of my prior teaching experience had been teaching children how to ice skate, so I felt out of scope teaching a classroom full of students twice my age how to speak English. The biggest skill I have learned though my teaching experience has been that of flexibility. Even with an extremely detailed lesson plan, it is inevitable that the lesson must change as it progresses: certain activities won’t work, students will need extra help with a certain concept, or an activity will go faster than expected. I’ve also greatly improved my confidence in my Spanish skills by teaching English to native Spanish speakers.
I will walk away from this internship with a great variety of new and improved skills. Although I don’t necessarily see teaching or non-profit work in my professional future, I have learned invaluable and widely-applicable lessons about target markets, the need to remain flexible, and the importance of confidence in both language skills and in tackling unfamiliar situations.
Out of all of the classes I’ve taken at Brandeis, American Health Care was by far my favorite. The course stuck with me for a couple of reasons. First and foremost, the class taught me about a system that I am a part of already and will become an even bigger part of once I turn twenty-six and must buy my own health insurance as stated in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The other major reason for my praise of this course is that it made me appreciate the complexities of our current health care system while also emphasizing that there is still so much to learn about how it functions.
When it comes to passing any type of major health care legislation, numerous stakeholders are involved in the process. These include the House and Senate to pass the legislation, but also the American Medical Association, the insurance industry, pharmaceutical companies, and the American citizens themselves. It is extremely difficult to pass any type of health care legislation with all of these parties involved. That is the biggest lesson I took away from my American Health Care course, helping to enhance my views of Americares as an organization and the tremendous work that they do.
The American Heath Care course taken at Brandeis also taught me about the issues many people, both domestically and internationally, face when it comes to having access to care. Many times, some of the problems faced in the United States are regarded as “first-world problems,” meaning that they are not relatable to developing countries who have other concerns plaguing their thoughts. Not having access to quality care remains a problem both for citizens in developed countries such as the United States and in developing countries such as Liberia. Strangely enough, although this is a dilemma that we’d like to see improved on in the form of increased access to needed care, it becomes a situation that people from all over the world can bond over.
This bond is something that informs my work at Americares. It promotes the understanding that even though we may live in different countries, our problems are not so different. We may have more resources to cope with disasters or disease epidemics, but without these resources, we would be in the same position, needing humanitarian aid and hoping that someone would come to our rescue. This type of thinking has made me work even harder on the employee handbook and all related materials geared towards enhancing employee experience because of the inspiring efforts made towards those in need. If our nation is in trouble, we would likely expect the same type of efforts to be made if possible. Keeping that in mind, my job this summer is to protect the wellbeing of the Americares staff so that they may continue these efforts that are so relatable and applicable to our everyday lives. After all, employees cannot do their job efficiently if they are concerned about company policies in outdated documents.
Next week will mark my two-month anniversary in San Francisco. I have been enjoying my summer and spending my free time doing things like attending the Pride celebration, watching an all-female Queen tribute band on the Fourth of July, driving down Route 1 to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, and binge-watching procedurals on Netflix. Amidst all this fun, I’ve also been working 30 hours a week at my internship, and some things have changed since my first week at Homeless Prenatal Program.
First, our team got a new intern, Jocelyn, who is a third-year at UC San Diego. We quickly bonded over the fact that we are both living in the Outer Sunset neighborhood and started carpooling three times a week and going to get poke bowls during our lunch break.
But there have also been more institutional changes. Shortly after my internship began, I learned that, after housing the program for five years, HPP would not be retaining the contract for the DV CalWORKs program. In fact, the entire program will be taken over by a new agency by the end of August, right after my internship ends. I am getting a unique experience to observe and facilitate the transition of the program. I have gotten to hear both from the executive staff about why they decided to pass along the contract and from the DV advocates about how they are feeling about the end. The domestic violence advocate team is a tight-knit group of women, all of whom have been meeting with clients in this role for two or more years. So, naturally, this transition has had a significant emotional impact on both the team and the clients.
My workload has also changed as the transition progresses. At the beginning of my internship, many of my tasks involved calling new referrals to schedule appointments, but now that the contract is being transferred to the new agency, so are all the referrals and clients. Many of my daily tasks now involve preparing clients’ files and sending them to the new agency. As the DV CalWORKs program winds down, there are not many opportunities for me to work directly with clients from the program. However, I have been training to participate in the intake and triage process. I studied and took a test to get certified for the Adult Needs and Strengths Assessment (ANSA), a tool HPP uses to assess all of their clients. I have also been shadowing staff members as they meet with first-time clients to assess their needs and make referrals. Ideally, by August, I will be able to take shifts doing triage on my own. This will provide me with crucial direct service experience to prepare me for a future in social work.
Working with a non-profit as prolific as Homeless Prenatal Program has provided a lot of opportunities for both personal and professional growth. Being a student of Sociology and African and Afro-American Studies, I have learned a lot about oppression and inequality on an academic level, but academic essays can’t stand-in for people’s actual narratives. It is clear that there are many disempowering forces at work in the lives of HPP’s clientele, but it is also clear that HPP offers a space for those clients to be empowered and supported through direct services and advocacy.
One of the most unique and critical parts of HPP’s model is its practice of hiring former clients and others directly from the community it serves, which supports the upward mobility of the community and promotes culturally relevant services. This is a completely different model from that of universities like Brandeis and pretty much any other industry, as well. While non-profits certainly have their challenges, like transitions, and flaws, like depending on government contracts and private donations for funding, Homeless Prenatal Program has taught me a lot about how non-profits can empower individual clients and communities.
My experience at this service center has been rewarding. The files of the clients will be monitored as part of a mandatory procedure applicable for nonprofit organizations. As such, I have been reviewing files, ensuring that all proper paperwork and signatures are included. Page by page, I scan to make sure all necessary information is in included.
Seeing the faces of this vulnerable population encourages me to come daily to give and provide all that I have. Their faces inspire me to do as much as I can to ensure that they feel welcomed and cared for. Some clients require extra care, particularly medical care. Unfortunately, not all of the clients are in the best shape in terms of health. Reading over their health conditions enlighten me to the inequity of healthcare across the world. Perhaps many of these conditions could have been prevented against early on by early doctor’s visit or hygiene. Now, I am concentrating my attention on finding information about the different insurance plans that these clients have, and the benefits that they receive.
Through my experiences here at the Houston Service Center, I have become more flexible and open-minded. An article here recommends how to increase workplace flexibility. It is common for me to be working on one thing, and then be asked to help someone do another thing. This requires flexibility, seeing that one has to be able to aid others in times of emergency. Additionally, I have become more open-minded as I must be able to accept changes to protocol and procedures. These skills are applicable not only at Brandeis but in daily life. Events such as constantly changing protocol and positions are inevitable. Thus, I see that these skills allow me to maneuver through times of distress in an educational and professional setting.
In a medical setting, flexibility is key as patients and their families may want different things at different times. I also must be familiar with flexibility understanding that in a medical and science setting, I should be able to help my colleagues in addition to serving my patients. Medicine heavily involves interconnectedness, and as such all contributors must be able to remain flexible, and of course, open-minded. Being open-minded in science works in the same way, whether the health care provider to a patient and his/her’s family or to another health care provider. To read more about the benefits of open-mindedness, please see this attached article.
So far, I believe that these skills I have continued to hold and use throughout my time here at the Service Center has given me a time to witness more than I expected. I have sensed that my efficiency has given me an edge at reviewing files quickly yet precisely and thoroughly. I have been able to associate with my co-workers who were once refugees themselves, refugee clients, and people who are really passionate about serving the underserved populations. I look forward to learning more from this experience which will benefit me in my last year at Brandeis, my education post-Brandeis, and my life as a professional.
Interning as an investigator at PDS has been the most dive-into-the-water type of educational experience I’ve ever had. Not only have I learned about the criminal justice system at large, but how it affects people every day. That’s the virtue of interacting directly with clients, as I’ve had the unique opportunity to do during the internship.
I’ve also learned a lot about myself. One thing is that this work excites me like nothing else. Sure, public defense is urgent and exhausting. Sure, it’s sometimes menial and often bureaucratic. But I’ll tell you, it’s never dull, rarely boring, and incredibly fulfilling. Because doing this work you realize that you’re helping people in a way that they can’t help themselves. You’re showing up during some of the worst times in their life and, with your pen for a sword, affirming the truth that people are not defined by the worst thing they’ve ever done.
Another huge benefit of the internship is constant exposure to the criminal justice system. One thing is that I can confidently say that I’ve come to understand the lifetime of a criminal case. From the preliminary hearing to voir dire to trial, being at PDS has given me a chance to contribute to many parts of the process.
Strong interpersonal skills, too, have been tremendously important for this position, and I’ve definitely grown in this area as a result of the internship. To be articulate and convey information in a succinct and meaningful way is the bottom line of effective communication, and whether it be in speaking or writing the internship has definitely demanded a refinement of this skill. Listening is also crucial; why do you think we have two ears but only one mouth? This is true regarding communication with attorneys and investigators, as well as clients and the public. Being an expert in communication is something I will continue to develop at Brandeis academically, and I have no doubt it will help me greatly in whatever career I ultimately choose to pursue.
What’s piqued my interest as well are the legal aspects of public defense. Such aspects include developing theories of defense, writing motions, and performing legal research. These tasks are typically only done by attorneys and law clerks, and knowing that has made me excited about law school and what’s to come.
But regardless of which area of public defense I’m engaged in – investigations or legal – I know critical thinking will be involved. That’s what keeps me coming back, in brief the fact that there are multiple avenues of defense and it’s our job to pick one and make it stick.
What I’ve said thus far is all to suggest that public defense is, more or less, fun and challenging. And it is. But for me there’s also been a shell-shock aspect. Dire poverty and terrible injustice are things you encounter almost every week on the job. And to be frank, it’s been eye-opening and maturing in a way that no other experience has been. It’s yelled at me face-to-face: “there’s incredible need in the world, even right here in your backyard, and you better do something about it.” It’s a sad acknowledgement but also motivating. It’s the need that lights my fire, and that’s why I’ve also had the inspiring opportunity to volunteer at a church here in DC on some Monday mornings, where we serve some 70-80 homeless people breakfast.
To conclude, my experience at PDS has been extraordinary in that it’s helped me clarify much of what was previously up in the air. I have a better sense of what I’m good at and where I need to improve, and hopefully, what I want to do.
By now, I have been interning in Boston Public Market for over a month. I feel that not only did I start to get used to the flow of the market, but more importantly, I have gained more insight of how the market functions. By understanding the Market’s mission better, I gradually realize what are some aspects I can do more to help. Besides, doing different jobs with many other interns in the Market also makes me realize my strength and weakness.
I might have mentioned this in my previous blog post, but it was not until now I have truly realized that the Market is one of its kind in Boston, even in New England. It is a grocery store, plus indoor farmer’s market, plus unity of small food business, plus public education, plus hand-on cooking classes. It is constantly experimenting with new activities and collaborations, from kid touring to cooperating with big health organizations. The wide range of activities the Market is conducting is not all spontaneous or solely experiments. Instead, they are all surrounding the five public impact goals of the Market: 1. Economic development, 2. Resiliency in the regional food system, 3. Education, 4. Public Health, 5. Affordability and access to underserved communities. These goals define the civic purpose of the Market’s activities. The changing nature of each activity, however, is due to the experimenting nature of the design. The Market is still really young—only turning two years old at the end of this month. Therefore, the Market is exploring the best way to reach the goals.
The division in the market facilitates each activity. There are two major division in the office: the operating team and the communication and outreach team. The operating team oversees vendor recruitment, security, market operation, and all the publicizing side of the market. Essentially, they are making sure that everything in the market is running smoothly. On the other hand, the communication and outreach team’s job involves public relationship, marketing, community engagement, etc. While the events design is more on the outreach side, if taking place in the Market, the actually carrying out process will definitely involve the collaboration between both teams. Meanwhile, after reaching out to certain organization and secured the event, the operation team would be the one to carry things out.
Even under same division, people with different personalities are partnered up to work together so that each single part of event would be carefully examined. For example, when the community and outreach chair Mackenzie came up with an idea of buying a mobile vehicle for transportation of fresh produce from the Market to our farmer’s market, her co-worker Amanda would suggest to make a list of stops to make, in order to write proposal. This really reflects on myself. I always know that I am not a creative or spontaneous genius, and I have been working hard to become one. But seeing the division in the Market makes me realize that I should identify my own strength and weakness, and focus on developing my strength instead of improve my weakness. Only in this way can I be a more capable person in the workplace, rather than someone who is constantly catching up with others.
As for the event designing part, for the first year (2015), the Market’s communicating engagement chair was constantly reaching out to other companies and organizations. However, starting this year, there has been some organizations coming to the Market and offered us event. Mostly, Boston Public Market facilitate programming, either by offering space or staff members. For example, the Market is currently conducting “Fresh Friday.” Fresh Friday is a program that Boston Public Market collaborating with Boston Children Museum and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation. During which we offer fresh vegetables and fruits for free to the museum visitors on Friday night. We get our fresh produce from our produce vendors Siena Farm and Stillman’s Farm, and then transported them to Boston Children Museum in our “Blueberry”— a bright blue, electric “produce trike.” One or potentially more of our prepared food vendors also participate in this program by offering kids and their families something different. “I’ve never seen people ‘attack’ vegetables like this.” Mackenzie proudly concluded. This kind of collaboration is a bit like a reward. After an entire year of outreaching, people are now willing to offer, program, and fund events for the Market.
Overall, I would consider the Market as a developing and growing marketplace. As I mentioned previously, the entire food industry is going on great changes now. The big (old) food companies used to own the entire food chain, from assembly to food truck. However, now more and more organizations start to appreciate and encourage the development of small business, which I do think will be the future of the food industry: more and more platform for small business to grow themselves, constantly bring to the public their ideas, and collaborate with other small business spontaneously. This kind of market is more flexible, vivid and extremely popular. Boston Public Market encourages the development of local food business, in the goal of raising the public awareness of food sustainability, nutrition, and community health. As an intern in the Market, I do feel that it is more than what I do that can help the Market, but more about experiencing the environment and deepening my understanding of the Market’s mission. From there, combining with my own background, I will be able to provide my idea and in this way, aiding the development of the Market.
Throughout my time as an intern this summer, I have gained skills both in research, writing and beyond. As a researcher I have learned the meaning of analysis, learning how to not only collect data and run statistical analyses, but also how to interpret the results and make conclusions based on them. As a writer, I have learned the meaning of editing. With nearly thirty drafts of a single ten-page paper, and likely an additional ten drafts before it gets published, I have learned how to nitpick my own writing in order to get it closer to what is needed for publication. As an office worker I have learned to be respectful and kind to all those who work in the office. Whether it be other faculty, staff or the janitorial staff, working in an office environment comes with its own set of social norms that I have now adapted to.
I have gained very specific skills such as how to use SPSS software to run Chi-Square tests and how to cite peer reviewed papers using AMA guidelines. While these newfound skills might come in handy in my future, it is the more general skills that I have gained that will likely resonate more as I move forward in my career. Having the experience of working in an office environment, learning to work independently, being able to communicate with those higher up and more knowledgeable than I am and knowing when and how to ask relevant questions will really benefit me as I move into different work environments in my future.
Since starting my internship I have learned a lot more about my own strengths and weaknesses as an employee. Going into the internship I lacked the confidence to communicate with my supervisor without hesitation, as time has gone by I have become significantly more comfortable reaching out when I need help or have clarifying questions. I also found it challenging to work in my own office where I can so easily close the door and avoid communicating with other people all day. I have therefore made it a point to keep my office door open at least for half of the day forcing me to interact with the other people in my office suite even if only to say “hello”.
There is much for me to offer as well, something I hadn’t realized until at least a month after my internship begun. Although I don’t have any experience in the specific type of research and field I am interning in, the skills I have learned from my classes at Brandeis have prepared me well with writing clearly and concisely making me an asset in any work environment. Realizing there are positive skills and perspectives I bring to the work I am doing makes it much easier to continue learning the things I still struggle with while keeping a positive attitude. While there may still be a lot for me to learn, I was able to make meaningful contributions on my first day on the job.
Interning with United for a Fair Economy has been such a rewarding experience. Before I began, I assumed that I would simply be doing the grunt work, but the staff repeatedly set aside meaningful work for me.
From the past two months, I know how frustrating it is for an organization to be understaffed, but this has created so many opportunities for me. Because UFE is so small, I am able to explore the many different departments within the world of nonprofits and actually see the difference that I am making.
Technically, my job description falls under Development, but my supervisor has been so patient and accepting — always encouraging me to venture beyond donor relations. So, whether I am working with Popular Education or Accounting, I am pleased to lighten the loads of those around me.
* In Development, I am writing thank you letters to major donors, foundation heads, as well as average citizens like me. Before starting at UFE, I believed that focusing your efforts on the few people already at the top of the donor pyramid was the most logical route to take.
That’s why the Development team invests so much energy into creating a personalized experience for all of our supporters, and why I promise to treat every client with equal attention regardless of the career path I take.
* Accounting – Since day one, I have been processing all the checks and credit card information that have come through the mail. This includes making copies, organizing files, and plugging in all the numbers into a database, all of which may sound tedious, but are so necessary. Especially with the upcoming audit, everyone is scrambling to make sure all the numbers match up, and I have been able to try my hand in the world of finances.
Every day this past week, I have been helping with reconciliation — which includes the task of searching through a half year’s worth of data on multiple servers and assigning certain data points with ones that do not seem to be related at first glance. The task is a time-consuming one, but it forces me to pay close attention and deduce information from different sources. Especially since my HSSP major will require statistics, this is great preparation!
While the skills that I am learning this summer are great ones to have, I have also realized that neither Accounting nor Development are very good fits for my personal needs. Sure, I am enjoying myself every day in Boston, but if my co-workers weren’t so good-natured, I doubt I would be able to say that. I’m starting to learn that my results on the Myer-Briggs evaluation (ENFJ) aren’t too far-fetched after all. I simply cannot work behind the scenes every weekday; I need to be more on the forefront of change, and I’m glad that I learned this NOW rather than later.
In working at Orchard Cove, I have have gained several skills that I can employ in the future at Brandeis and in the workplace. Firstly, I have gained leadership skills. I got the chance to lead the vision board activity with four residents, and also recently had the opportunity to help organize and lead a field trip with residents to a local state park, Borderland State Park, for a tour around a famous mansion. When the tour guide unexpectedly did not show up for the tour, I was forced to make some phone calls and improvise a bit, and we ended up getting a personalized tour from one of the land maintenance workers, which ended up being a blast. These experiences have given me the chances to step up as a leader and have flexibility in running these events. I know in future positions, especially in the human services field, it is important to be flexible and to expect that things won’t always go the way as planned. I will especially use this as I continue my role as a leader of the Waltham Community Service Group Companions to Elders.
Secondly, I have found the experience of being part of a strong interdisciplinary team who cares about the residents to be very exciting. I am proud to work with a team that is countering the idea that this marginalized population should not be given the same resources and care as others of different ages. An interdisciplinary team meeting I have attended multiple times focused on discussing the wellness of individual residents and each resident’s goals and wishes. Staff present at the meeting are fitness staff, a social worker, strategic initiatives director, director of community life, etc., who each give their input on how they feel they can help the resident reach their goals. I feel like this shows how it really takes a village for things to function often times. This has shown me the importance of taking multiple viewpoints into account, really helping to see the whole person not just a small aspect of who they are. Furthermore, this idea can be taken into account when researching a topic for a project. Looking at multiple aspects of an idea before coming to a conclusion holds importance.
Every week, my supervisor leads what is called a wave training in which she teaches other staff members step by step to become vitalize coaches. Since she had never trained other staff to be coaches before, it became difficult creating steps and breaking it down for the other staff to understand. As a beginning intern who did not know all the tiny details that make up the Vitalize 360 program, I was able to look at the big picture and create an initial list of steps for the program that captured the main goals of the program. With this list, my supervisor was then able to build off of that with the details of each step, and translate that into steps to use to teach others about the program. This has been a rewarding experience knowing I can help with the process. I will utilize this idea of looking at the big picture, and breaking down steps in the future.
Working at Orchard Cove has provided me with some insight about myself. I feel more excited working directly with residents rather than spending a lot of time behind a desk in an office. I have found that I have really enjoyed the parts of the internship working directly with the residents and leading activities.