Post 1: The American Jewish World Service

My name is Melissa Frank and I am a rising sophomore at Brandeis University. I am an Economics major and a Legal Studies minor and this summer I am lucky to work for the human rights non-profit,the AJWS.  AJWS is an organization that works in 19 different countries, helping grassroots organizations fight for the rights they need. Depending on the region, my organization works with a multitude of different social injustices.

Through my time as a finance intern, I have seen funding and action for sexual rights, children’s rights, environmental action, LGBT+ rights, and women rights movements around the world.  The majority of what I do is within accounts payable and grant management. I review money that people have spent on projects and ensure that all of it was spent on project-related activities and that everything is coded correctly. If the coding was incorrect the books as the organization would be imbalanced and money would be used from the wrong funds. Many of the funds at the organization are restricted, meaning that they can only be used for certain things and if the funds were not used for those specific things, and the donors knew, they would cease funding the projects. Therefore, it is imperative to the organization that the accounts are correct. Without the finance department, projects and action cannot happen. Organizations need money to function and that money must be correctly accounted for or else the organization gets into trouble and, therefore, cannot perform its duties as a human rights supporter.

By summer’s end I hope to gain a larger understanding of the ins and outs of an NGO and how it supports each of the department’s actions through the nonprofit and how those actions spread to the world. These first few weeks at AJWS have been great and I have already learned so much. I have met many of the different department heads and they have taught me a lot about their departments and all the interns had a lunch with the president of  AJWS where we were lucky enough to ask him questions and learn about his life and what led him to his position at the AJWS. Through these experiences I have been able to see how much each department feeds off of the others and how they are all interconnected. I have also been able to learn how many different people chose to enter the non-profit sector, which I find most interesting because some of the paths have been direct while other circuitous.

If anyone would like to learn more about the company’s growth over the last 30 years and the work we do around the world, visit the website!

– Melissa Frank

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