Improving skills new and old

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.

United Way is one of the organizations through which MUA receives its funding.

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.

The MUA building is in Dorchester, close to where many of the students live.

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.

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