When you leave home at 14 to go to a strange new country, things will most likely not always go according to plan. Whether that is following your heart instead of your brain, or just being too naive and trusting strangers more than you should, you are likely to eventually get yourself in some kind of trouble. The best part about it? It makes you pretty brave, and so incredibly resilient.
How does that relate to my summer internship, you ask? As my 6th year in the United States comes to a close, I find myself in the heart of Silicon Valley for a wonderful experience. I am currently interning at Project Happiness, a research-based nonprofit that empowers people of all ages and backgrounds to choose happier, more meaningful lives. They do so through creating an educational curriculum that is implemented in schools in over 85 countries, films, books and other outlets. Upon being offered this opportunity, I was extremely grateful that I would get to do something that is so dear to my heart – providing people around the world with resources that would lead them to live fulfilling lives – all while using the skills that I have learned in my Economics major.
Since starting my internship two weeks ago, I have worked closely with the organization’s Chief Operating Officer. Part of what we do includes conducting business model analysis for internationally sold products, as well as researching grants and writing up proposals. Through websites like Foundation Directory Online, we have been compiling an extensive list of grants that will be chosen as part of the organization’s new fundraising strategies. Given the small, close-knit nature of the nonprofit, any work conducted is extremely valuable and has great impact on the organization’s future. I love knowing that every day, when I walk into work, I will be doing something that will be of such importance to a place I am already so passionate about! Another great part about interning at Project Happiness includes getting to participate in talks with consultants, partners and other professionals that conduct pro bono work for the organization.
Not only have the social and emotional learning principles that Project Happiness teaches affected me in my workplace, they have also come in handy since arriving in California. A while after arriving, I found out that my housing plans had fallen through and I had no place to go. Naturally, my brain went into flight or fight mode. After the initial nervous system response, I started using all the wonderful concepts I had learned at my workplace to put things into perspective and analyze the situation from a more rational and calm point of view. Eventually, things started coming together.
One of my favorite parts about Brandeis is staffing Alumni Reunion weekend, because I get to meet inspiring, kind, passionate people. This past alumni reunion, I met a couple from California that was on campus for their 50th class reunion. They gave me their contact information and said their doors were always open to the Brandeis family. When I called them and explained my situation, they did not hesitate to host me until I found somewhere to stay. Days like this really show you how amazing it is to be part of this wonderful home we call Brandeis!
This summer, I hope to learn extensively about nonprofit management and the different ways in which business models affect the success of a product. More importantly, I am looking forward to learning the intricacies of the professional world and teamwork. I cannot wait to see what this summer has in store, both on a professional and personal level. Bring it on, California!