Internships End, Careers Begin

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It is a part of the office. What I love the most about this place, aside from being stress-free, is that it is so colorful. It brings life and positivism into the room and its staff.

It is sad when something so special to you comes to an end, although, I knew sooner or later, my time would end in El Paso, Texas. Notwithstanding, I am so grateful for the incredible experience in a place where I never imagined I would ever venture to go to.

I keep remembering everything I did at Cinco Puntos Press (CPP) and I am shocked by all I was able to accomplish during my time there.

I kept organizing the e-books, it really was a big project that CPP had for me. It involved going one by one, making sure that every detail was correct. I had to start a few e-books from scratch, often it involved looking for the old files—sometimes they were nowhere to be found. It also led me to compile a list of the e-books that still needed some retouches from us and another column for missing files altogether.

In addition, I also created a metadata spreadsheet and it took quite some time. I needed to synthesize a lot of information about CPP’s books into this one spreadsheet. Even though, there were slots that I was not able to fill because I lacked the information, I tried my best to complete it as much as possible, since CPP still needed it.

These two big projects took most of my time, as the making of e-books is very time-consuming. None the less, I was more than happy to learn all these new skills as well as hone others. I do not think I ever used Excel as much as I did here at CPP. I got to do things in this internship that I had never done before, among them, I also corrected a catalogue, learn a little of creating newsletters, and met my new Bible aka. The Chicago Manual of Style (which I am still pending on purchasing).

Furthermore, what I most embraced about this internship is that I was included in every single one of their meetings and discussions. My opinion was much valued and that gave me a great sense of importance and belonging. Either if it was a story submitted for their consideration, or the final cover of Rani Patel in Full Effect, etc., they wanted my sincere opinion. I just loved their inclusivity. CPP not only preaches about inclusivity, as their main goal as a publishing company, they practice it—and very well indeed.

Mrs. Lee Byrd, said to me nearly the end of the internship, that they had not been around, as much time as they have wished, to teach me. However, I disagree, they were always there for me, but like the bird when they learn how to fly, you have to let them fall when they are trying, that is how they will learn. I think each and every single one at CPP, taught me something about flying and then I figured out the rest.

My internship did not conclude not without first having a great meal with the entire staff. I feel fortunate to have met them all. They are all colorful characters; people who have experienced a lot and are willing to share their knowledge with the younger generations. And just as the Hiatt Career Center always says, this was also a wonderful opportunity for me to “Network, network, network.”

I very much hope that I will get to see them next year, perhaps BookExpo in NYC? There are chances—chances for anything, even to keep networking and opening horizons. I learned from this experience that you should not limit yourself. Go out there and explore the world that is meant to be explored.

Santiago Montoya, ’19

A lovely end at the Red Cross

My internship at the Red Cross ended a few weeks ago. Although I’m back at Brandeis, I still think about my internship a lot and still keep in contact with the Red Cross. As I reflect on this summer, I feel so grateful and honored to have worked with the Red Cross because it is a premier organization that has the ability to respond to many different crises at the same time. The ability to help out and respond is not something that every organization has the funds or volunteers for, so I feel very privileged that I had the opportunity to work and learn in the Red Cross.

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A picture of the note I left the Red Cross before leaving. I also gave everyone a thank you card!

Before starting the internship, one of my main goals was to gain a deeper understanding of social justice issues in Puerto Rico because I felt that I had learned a lot about social justice issues in America, which is very different than my island. I think the direct field work that I did with the Red Cross,  like going into low-income communities and installing smoke alarms, really allowed me to dive into some social justice issues in Puerto Rico. However, I understand that there are many more complex issues in Puerto Rico that I didn’t get the chance to tackle and understand. I’m also struggling to bring these learnings back to Brandeis, in other words, how do we continue doing the work we did during our internships? What are ways to still be an activist, while also a student, besides joining a club?

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Picture of a volunteer at an outreach event we held at a shopping mall!

I have been thinking about how different or similar my internship experience would have been at an American Red Cross chapter not in Puerto Rico. For example, I felt very close to all the fellow interns and to my supervisors as well as the employees in the organization. We all had lunch together every day and joked between breaks. Since we shared a culture, we could all relate to each other and find humor in similar things. It’s also important to note that the work we did was mostly based in Puerto Rico, and so we were helping our people and that allowed us to get closer.  I wonder how this “work community” would have been different in another area with people from a different culture. I’m also thinking about what makes us feel close to other people, especially in a work setting that can be draining at times since we are constantly helping others and responding to disasters. Would I still feel a “work community” if I had worked in the marketing department, for example?

I think the best part about my internship at the Red Cross is that I’m still thinking about it and probably will for a long time because it raised a lot of questions for me (as explained above)! While I still keep in touch with the organization and the friends I made, I want to volunteer there whenever I go back home. As cliche as it sounds, when you are doing important work and you are part of a community, you make a world a better place and you become a better person. This is something that I’ve also incorporated in my work as an activist at Brandeis. Here’s to many more wonderful and social justice focused summers!

  • Claudia Roldan ‘18

Lessons Learned

Wow, it’s been over three weeks and I am still having difficulty processing this incredible summer. Throughout the 10 weeks of interning at Roots, I have met the most inspiring people, learned tremendously, and contributed to an organization I believe is making real strides towards peace in the land. I have increased my knowledge, humility, faith, hope, and passion.

One of my many goals for this summer was to determine if non-profit work in a peace-building organization in the region was something that I might like to pursue as an eventual career. While I still have not decided in which direction I would like to head professionally, I am still strongly considering the non-profit world, perhaps even more than I was before. What is definite is that this experience strengthened my resolve to work toward peace between Israelis and Palestinians through dialogue, activity, and action, in order to improve lives on both sides. I believe that this grassroots work can only truly take hold on a local level, so my desire to move to Israel after graduation has been strengthened as a result of this experience.

In this blog post, we were asked to talk about what we are proud of accomplishing this summer. I am most proud of not being afraid to go to new places, often thought of as “dangerous” by various communities, and to talk to people with backgrounds and opinions very different from my own. I am proud of myself for having an open mind, for asking questions, and for seeking to learn as much as I could. I am glad that I took risks and jumped into unknown situations – including the internship itself!

If I were to give advice to someone thinking about going into this field or interning for this organization, I would give them the same advice I received: be proactive and make the most of your time. Be flexible and ready for anything. Most of all, don’t be afraid to put yourself in new situations, talk to people, ask questions, and share your own ideas. Being the only intern can be very lonely, but you also have the opportunity to have a real impact on a small young organization – and that is priceless.13721269_660056010811577_1805919981_n

I realized that I join organizations like Roots and bVIEW (Brandeis Visions for Israel in and Evolving World), which have no specific political agenda, because I myself do not have a specific political solution in mind for this conflict. What I do believe, however, is that no political solution can achieve peace while we are all arguing with each other. Dialogue, mutual action, and a transformation of perceptions of the other must precede, coincide with, and continue after a political solution is enacted. At Roots, I sat with a group of Palestinians and Israelis (settlers, no less!), of different ages and backgrounds, as we went around the circle, articulating which political visions we support. With unbelievable calm and respect, every individual gave a different answer – almost half of them including the words “I don’t know.” This was quite a departure from the usual Israel/Palestine conversation on campus, wherein individuals enter conversations with set opinions and perceived facts. I learned from this summer how important it is to be okay with not knowing all the answers, to be open to discussion and changing perceptions, and to working with people you disagree with to resolve conflict. If Israelis and Palestinians living in the Gush Etzion area and from Bethlehem to Hebron can do it, surely we students at Brandeis can too.

Rebecca (Rivka) Cohen ’17

Wrapping Up the Summer

In these last couple of weeks, I made so many new friends and really got to explore the character of San Francisco. Now that my internship, along with the summer, has come to an end, I’m so grateful for the time that I got to spend there. At times it was hard and tedious scripting inside when I knew that the weather outside was so nice, but the sense of accomplishment when you finished a project was more than enough to fuel my progress.

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I would say that I’ve met my learning goals because I have learned so much in terms of information extraction from working with sources with all sorts of formats and different languages; and source analysis, especially since the projects that I was working on were a part of a much large collective project to collect and document linguistic information. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to learn as much about the translational algorithms that we use as I would have liked because of the time constraint, but it was still interesting to argue and research about semantic ambiguity and sense disambiguation in order to provide the best translating through our database. But, I think that I learned the most by absorbing information from the collective experiences of the wonderful staff that I worked with.

I think that this summer has made it clear that I am capable of data extraction work, but I also learned that if the sources are too similar to each other, the work eventually became tedious to do because at that point, you aren’t writing code but rather changing variables and conditional statements. I tried to combat that by switching which types of sources that I was working on as well as the language that I was processing through so that the challenges that I would face would be different. This internship has shown me that I am still very interested in how a computer understands languages, but I would rather process information that is not as regular as the dictionaries, webinaries, and sources that I have been working on over the summer. I’ve learned that I’m also very much into researching different ways to tackle a problem and debating with someone the pros and cons of implementing within a system.

2016-09-05 18.17.08My advice to anyone who would be interested in working at PanLex is to be really interested in the work that they are doing, and to take initiative to research and bring up projects that you would like to do with the staff. The staff is very open to different views and ideas as long as you can support why this would be more beneficial than the current way. Furthermore, take advantage of all the resources and opportunities that come with working for a branch of a larger parent organization, and the fact that you are in San Francisco. I went to talks that were held by the Long Now Foundation, including one on Quantum Computing and the Rosetta Project, and have gone to different conferences, such as IMUG, with PanLex. As for the field, at some times, the work will be tedious, and others you will be trying to debug a problem for hours without making progress. Take it one step at a time, and try to set mini goals for yourself. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or ask someone to look over your code, and most of all, don’t be afraid to take breaks. Sometimes, it’s a matter of being in a different mindset, and looking at the problem with fresh eyes.

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I think that the projects that I’m most proud of are the ones that focused on lesser-known, endangered, or extinct languages because I feel that by adding them to our database, we are doing our part in trying to fight against language death and proving a resource for languages that usually don’t get funding for translational programs such as Google translate. My favorite moments included when our database could translate something that Google translated as question marks, and I added linguistic data of a language into our database that was not supported by Google.

Sooyoung ’18

Wrapping Up My Internship With The UN

My lovely Ministry for Women, Community and Social Development —Division for Youth team
My lovely Ministry for Women, Community and Social Development —Division for Youth team

 

My internship in Samoa has been an unforgettable experience. Before embarking on this internship I set the following goals for myself:

  • Academic goal: To learn from my experience working in Samoa, the core skills and practical knowledge that will help me better understand the relevance of my studies at Brandeis to real-world development challenges.
  • Career goal: To conduct primary research in creative and innovative ways that will enhance my understanding of how technology may be used for youth empowerment and sustainable development.
  • Personal goal: To learn how to balance working in a professional environment with my spiritual and social life.

 

I feel that I achieved all of these goals during my intensely busy two-month internship at UNDP. Among my various jobs at UNDP and at the Ministry of Women, Community and Social Development, I found myself doing administrative work, conducting research and surveys, writing reports and providing technological support to others. These activities reinforced my learning at Brandeis and also highlighted the areas where I will want to do further studies at Brandeis.

 

A large and very exciting project I worked on this summer has been with the establishment of a Samoan/New Zealand government initiative called the High Tech Youth Network in Samoa. I was given the opportunity to assist with primary research for HTYN by designing and carrying out a survey, which we called a “snapshot” on youth perceptions of technology in Samoa.  As the director of the project is an administrator rather than a tech expert, I was also able to provide advice and support of this nature. I am especially proud of my work for HTYN because I felt able to contribute significantly. To date, the project has been implemented primarily by the director and with my support, so I have a great sense of ownership regarding this endeavor.

 

The personal goal above was the hardest one to achieve. I was pulled in so many directions, both at work and also in the community with my friends. I was called upon to help in many work situations that were not technically my responsibility but I found it impossible to refuse when asked to do something. And many times I jumped in because I really wanted to be involved. An example was working on various projects with the ILO (International Labor Organization), another UN agency, including a video project and several reports.

 

I officially finished working at UNDP on the 12th of August, however, for about a week after I had been going regularly back in to the Division for Youth office and also meeting with the in-country project manager for the High Tech Youth Network. On my last day in the office, I was surprised when all the staff called me to come sit down for a meeting. It was actually a farewell they had organized, and they gave me gifts! We also had cake together. It was a very heartfelt moment that I will remember, and I will continue to strengthen these friendships I have made this summer.

– Ben Percival

Reflections on a transforming summer

It has been a couple weeks since the end of the Asian American International Film Festival (AAIFF), and I have used the this time to reflect on how my experiences this summer changed me. After engaging with the festival on a daily basis for almost 3 months, my eyes have been opened to the commercial, artistic, and activist spheres of the film and media industry. My work at AAIFF exposed me to the success and the struggles, the tips and tricks, and the motivations and passions of independent filmmakers. I am incredibly grateful for the hundreds of actors, producers, filmmakers and industry people I was able to talk to throughout the festival – who passed knowledge onto me and allowed me to think more critically about the film industry and my potential role in it later.

A sold out screening during the festival! (Courtesy of AAIFF Facebook)
A sold out screening during the festival! (Courtesy of AAIFF Facebook)

Before I started my internship, I took note of my goals for the summer. Some of these were strictly professional and related to what I hoped to accomplish through my work, and others were more personal and focused on self-exploration. Through my work as the Special Events and Development Coordinator, I hoped to build strong relationships and partnerships, collaborate with my peers, and run events smoothly.

I am happy to announce that I accomplished all these goals. For example, at the conclusion of our Opening Night Gala all of the sponsors and caterers I had been working with for the past two months came up to me and expressed their gratitude for organizing the event. These interactions and signs of appreciation showed me that I had done my job correctly, which made all the hard work worth it. I was at my proudest moment during Opening Night when I saw the culmination of two months of work in one night and saw people enjoying themselves.

Additionally, by working everyday at a film festival, I made it a goal to immerse myself in independent film and film production. This was not a hard goal to accomplish since I had the privilege of watching any or all of the shorts or features that we put on. By the end of the festival, I watched every short along with a few features when I had time to sit in on the screening. After watching all of these high-quality films, I believe even more strongly in the need for Asian representation in the film industry – the talent and skill exists but people are not getting the exposure they deserve.

Opening Night of AAIFF'16! (Courtesy of AAIFF Facebook)
Opening Night of AAIFF’16! (Courtesy of AAIFF Facebook)

While my summer at the festival was nothing short of extraordinary, I have mixed feelings about the film industry. The festival often had to work with high-profile distributors and producers, which could become frustrating as we battled with deadlines and budget concerns. However, the world of arts activism, and especially Asian American representation in film is important and needed. Because of this, I would absolutely recommend that any other students interested in film or arts activism volunteer for AAIFF. Even though the film industry might be stacked against Asian American interests, the work that AAIFF and many other Asian American film festivals do remains vitally important as a platform.

Concluding Thoughts on My Experience at Massachusetts Peace Action

After concluding my internship with Massachusetts Peace Action, I have been able to take some time to reflect on my experiences, both positive and negative, over the past twelve weeks. Overall, my internship went very well and I learned far more than expected! Through my encounters in the office and at community events, I have been able to expand my professional network while making friendships that I am sure will endure as I enter the next stages in my life and career.

I realize now that social justice, though the term has many connotations, is fighting for the rights and ideas of those people who have been most devastated by oppressive political and socioeconomic institutions. As a Legislative/ Political intern, I tracked legislation on international conflicts including the wars in Syria, Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, Yemen, relations with Iran, Israel/Palestine, nuclear weapons policy, and defense appropriations bills. Additionally, I updated Massachusetts Peace Action’s various social media accounts, including Facebook and Twitter, on news and other related material. I even contacted legislative offices directly to communicate about our issues as well as Peace Action supporters to ask them to contact legislative offices.

Though I worked primarily on-site in Cambridge, I attended several MAPA events, oversaw information tables at the Cambridge River Festival, Lowell Folk Festival, our Distinguished Peacebuilders Series, and helped plan commemorations for the atomic attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It was truly special to attend the second anniversary of the death of Michael Brown.

August 9, 2016 ~ Activists arrive on Boston Common for a MAPA event to commemorate 71st anniversary of the atomic attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the 2nd anniversary of the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO.
August 9, 2016 ~ Activists arrive on Boston Common for a MAPA event to commemorate 71st anniversary of the atomic attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the 2nd anniversary of the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO.

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In general, I participated in efforts to communicate with United States legislators and other officials with local or international political power that the alienation of distinct religious, ethnic, or racial groups in this country and abroad is no longer acceptable. I also shared that inclusion is a necessary step if we are to foster a sustainable planet on ethical and environmental grounds.

 

The Mission Has No End

This summer I was able to complete the learning goals that I defined before starting. I think a big part of this was that I knew what to expect since it was my second summer with One Mission. Last summer the learning goals I set were not as in line with the work I ended up doing because I did not know what to expect, this year I was better able to gauge what the experience would be like before I started. The reason I was so eager to return to One Mission this summer is because they are exactly the type of organization I want to work for. My passion is pediatric cancer and a few years ago I discovered that within the realm of pediatric cancer nonprofit work, I am most passionate about that which is not medical based. One of my favorite things about OM is how big of an impact they have on the daily lives of these patients and families during treatment (http://onemission.org/what-we-do/). Research is so important but it is difficult to complete a lot of tedious work for things that may or may not end up helping anyone and even if they do it might take so long that you don’t see the benefits in your lifetime.

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In the workplace this summer I learned that my work is valuable. My boss and the other members of the organization were always so grateful of everything I did because it at times made their jobs easier. I spent a lot of time creating a proposal that is being sent to a greeting card designer in hopes of working together to develop an empathy card that appropriately address the emotions that pediatric cancer patients and their families are feeling. I met with a few different people in the office multiple times as I edited my project and improved the content. By the end of my internship I was really proud of the proposal I had created and am hoping that it will lead to a forming of this partnership.

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My advice to those who want to either work at One Mission or a similar organization is to be patient. I say this for two big reasons. My first reason is that sometimes there is only so much work to be done and they might have to send you home early. For a small organization that does not always have interns, they only take on so much and do not always have extra projects laying around waiting for an intern to complete. My other reason for saying this is that at times you will be doing a lot of tedious work. I have spent hours upon hours inputting check donations into our fundraising system or trying to come up with tweets for our twitter account (https://twitter.com/buzzforkids). These are things that I know are very helpful in the end but at the time can make your eyeballs feel like they are about to fall out. My two favorite experiences from this summer were the days that I got to help out with their programs. One day this summer my boss, the other intern and I went and served dinner at a pasta night funded by One Mission. It was great to get to see all of the patients first hand and how thankful the families were for the food.

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My boss Mel, other intern Rob and I serving dinner during a pasta night.

My other favorite was when I got to go shopping for toys for the treasure chest with one of the members of the Board of Directors. The two of us went to target and filled a shopping cart with hundreds of dollars worth of toys, books and educational materials. After we labeled all of them and sorted them to be delivered to the oncology floor at Children’s Hospital Boston. It was great to go on the monthly shopping trip to purchase toys for the Treasure Chest program that I had heard so much about.

Jen Rossman

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All of the new toys that were added to the Treasure Chest on the oncology unit at Boston Children’s Hospital in August.

Final Post

It feels strange that just two weeks ago I was still working, but now am switching to classes instead. Although I am excited to see my friends again, I am sad that I am leaving the world I was in this summer.

The view from my apartment (http://www.esbnyc.com/explore/tower-lights)
The view from my apartment (http://www.esbnyc.com/explore/tower-lights)

I did not have specific goals this summer, but rather simply to see whether I wanted to work in the non-profit sector after I graduated. Although I have thought that I wanted to work in the non-profit sector I felt it was important to actually get a taste of what it would be like to do non-profit work. Although working for a summer with a clear end date is very different than potentially starting a career, I think summer experiences are still very valuable. Working at Avodah this summer solidified in my mind that I want to do work like this after graduation. It also showed me that I want to do more work in the research side of non-profit work, rather than the financial and fundraising work that I have done more of in the past.
I am most proud this summer that I was able to be adapt to whatever was needed. Although I had consistent projects, there were also short term projects that came up when there were events or campaigns. My main projects were focused on recruitment, but the other interns (under other supervisors) and I would sometimes work together on phone-banking and helping to prepare for big events if needed. Avodah does not have a lot of staff, so on big projects everyone who can pitches in to help.
If I was giving advice to a student who wanted to work at Avodah or in non-profits as a whole, I think my best advice would be to be adaptable. Many non-profits are small organizations, so if there is a fundraising drive or important event coming up, all staff members may need to help, even if their job is not about fundraising or event planning. I also think it is important to have an open mind. There are a lot of different groups of people and viewpoints involved in non-profit work, and it is important to be able to listen to and try to understand where different groups are coming from, even if you do not agree with them. Specifically at Avodah, I think it is important to speak up if you want to, even if you are ‘just’ an intern, because each person has their own unique viewpoint that can be very bring a new perspective. Finally, I think it is important to realize that not all of the work is going to be fun or interesting. There can be a lot of grunt work that can feel repetitive at times, but it is still important work that needs to done.
For seniors who do not know what they want to want to do after they graduate, or who think or know they want to work in the non-profit sector, the application should be live soon: http://www.avodah.net/apply/.

Lydia Ruddick-Schulman ’17

Kids and Cataloging: Where did the Summer Go?

It’s mid-August and my internship at the Swedish American Museum has finally drawn to a close. I can’t help but wonder where the summer went! Even though I learned and accomplished so much, I still feel like there’s so much more to learn, somehow. I set out this summer hoping to advance my research skills, get practical experience that will help me become a historian in the future and to hopefully connect with my past by learning what it was like for my Swedish ancestors. To an extent, I accomplished all of this. I researched for a practical purpose – every now and then, a guest will come through the museum and recognize someone in the old photos on display; usually, the only information we have in regards to the photo is whatever the donor supplied, which isn’t always enlightening. On several occasions, I helped to dig to see if anything more could be found. There was also a lot of research involved with several projects for the children’s museum such as a self-guided tour. This last was probably the most beneficial for my career goals. In the beginning, I had hoped that observing guests in the museum, taking note of the most common questions, would help me better direct and focus any writing I would do for my audience; this was something I really had to work on when creating the tour guide. As for my personal goal involving my own Swedish heritage, while I gained knowledge on Swedish culture, I can’t say it was the right time frame to relate to my immigrant grandparents.

It was weird closing down my work station for the last time... Although I won't miss that loading screen!
It was weird closing down my work station for the last time… Although I won’t miss that loading screen!

While a curator’s job and a historian’s job are quite different, I can say that I now have a different view on the final product of a historian’s work, as both rely heavily on the presentation of the facts learned- historians via writing and curators via the display of artifacts.

If you ever find yourself interning at any small to medium sized museum, take into account that it’s not likely to be adequately funded or staffed, so everyone shares the work. Chances are, you’ll end up helping out in the store for a day or preparing crafts for the education department (or doing something like this: http://www.swedishamericanmuseum.org/museuminfo/news/event/pioneer-the-world-day-camp-%E2%80%93-session-i/) instead of working directly with the material and the artifacts. It may not be what you expected, but being shuffled around like that, you learn a lot; it’s up to you how you decide to apply that knowledge.

The children's museum comes complete with a ticket booth for kids to get their "passports", but I guess I'll need to buy my ticket back to Brandeis, huh?
The children’s museum comes complete with a ticket booth for kids to get their “passports”, but I guess I’ll need to buy my ticket back to Brandeis, huh?

I’m rather proud of this project: my supervisor, had received an email from a real estate agent, asking if we could tell her anything about the history of a certain building in another neighborhood. All she provided was an address. Not even knowing what connection this building had to the museum, my supervisor asked me to look into it. Naturally, the building wasn’t in our records, so I turned to Google; I dug and dug, flipping through real estate sites, census records, building codes, anything that came to mind. It wasn’t a particularly famous building, a small music venue, so there wasn’t a whole lot to be said, but after following dozens of links and Google searches, I found out that the architects of the building were a relatively famous Swedish duo (http://rpwrhs.org/w/index.php?title=Michaelsen_%26_Rognstad), known for their work in Chinatown. After finding that connection, researching was a lot easier and I was able to provide a fair bit of information. I guess the reason that moment sticks out for me is because it’s closer to what I was expecting/hoping to do this summer and I enjoyed using and proving my research skills for a practical purpose, outside of school.