The Final Stretch

(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. 

So always remember, at the end of the day, taking the first step is better than none at all.

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! 

Sincerely,

Rachel

(A little piece of Brandeis away from Brandeis at a Chicago event)

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