I am at the midpoint of my time at United for a Fair Economy and it feels like time is going by so quickly! The more I have adapted to the environment at UFE and the more I have become acquainted with the type of work I am doing there, the more I feel like a part of their community and it is hard to believe that I am halfway done with my internship. It feels like there is so much left to learn! Recently, I have been learning a lot about the finance side of non profit organizations. At first, I thought this would be more tedious and monotonous than the rest of the work I have been doing, but I have actually enjoyed it a lot because I feel like an integral part of the organization; the tasks I have been given are ones that if they were not completed, the organization would fail to run smoothly. For example, I have been in charge of all donation processing and deposits, as well as reconciling information regarding online donations in preparation for their upcoming audit. While I have been doing this, I have also been given projects that fit my interests such as creating an informational postcard to send out with some of their mailings regarding bequests. I feel very fortunate and grateful that I am being given projects and tasks that both fit my interests, teach me a lot, and also help UFE a lot. Feeling valued by the people who work at UFE has allowed me to become more passionate about the work I am doing as well as take notice to more real life issues that are relevant to UFE’s work. I have felt myself become more aware of economic injustices and feel a stronger need to fight for economic equality. Staff members periodically send articles or events related to economic justice through email as a way to keep us grounded in our work. For example, I was sent an article about internships and the fact that they are only provided to people with privilege (link to article here). Reading this article made me realize how grateful I am for the opportunities I have, and how unfair it is that not everyone is provided these opportunities, making UFE’s work so important. Similarly, I was sent an article about a protest led by immigrants against deportations (link to article here). Before working at UFE, I would have probably skimmed through this article and not given it a second thought, but after meeting people through UFE with heartbreaking stories of deportation and unequal rights as immigrants, this article sparked an anger in me that made me want to do my very best work while at UFE and spread the word about these injustices.
In this way, working at UFE is very different than academic life because the work is so real. In academics, a lot of what I learn comes from textbooks or lectures, and sometimes it is hard to remember that the things I am learning are reality when they are coming from words on a page or someone else’s voice. At my internship, however, I am constantly reminded that what I am doing matters because what I am doing is linked to real life people and situations. Rather than just reading about people who are experiencing economic justice, I am meeting them in person and hearing their personal stories. Rather than just having a professor tell me how to compile and analyze data in a spreadsheet, I am determining the best ways to do so for the present needs of the organization and creating reports that will be used to persuade real people to help others in need.
Similarly, doing work that involves real people and real issues makes the work I am doing more prone to sudden changes or problems. Thus, this internship is teaching me how to creatively problem solve quickly and effectively in a way that I have never had to do before. In school, solving problems quickly and effectively is important, but only for my own success; at UFE, solving problems quickly and effectively could be the difference between getting a program funded that will help a lot of people in need, or having to cancel that program. This is a skill that I think will be useful in everything I do, whether that’s academics, work, or even interpersonal relationships and social situations. In addition, I am learning how to assert myself and ask for projects that I really want to do. This was scary at first, but my boss really appreciates it because it allows me to do work that I care about and thus will do a better job on. I look forward to the lessons I learn in the second half of my internship!