This summer working with the Brandeis Educational Justice Initiative (BEJI) allowed me to learn and grow in ways I never could have imagined. The opportunity to get undergraduate work experience within a social justice field was quite an impactful experience and one that will certainly shape my future professional path. I learned not only a great deal about the world of educational justice and carceral reform, but I also got to see how I personally fit into this framework. Through challenging and fulfilling assignments, I was pushed this summer to be a better educator, researcher, team member, and collaborator. My internship allowed me to be both a student and a practitioner of the work we were conducting. Because of this, my confidence in professional settings grew, and I was able to practice advocacy and demonstrate initiative.
In my time with the BEJI, I feel I accomplished quite a lot. As the undergraduate intern, I was directly responsible for expanding opportunities available to undergrads and making sure our voices were heard. I effectively pitched the idea of paid research working groups for undergraduates, which will launch as a pilot program this fall. Additionally, I communicated with Brandeis CMS, and am now co-creating the BEJI website. Finally, I was able to help restructure the content offered in our education workshops and better tailor the content to meet the needs of our students. These are all accomplishments that I worked quite hard to achieve, and I take great pride in.
Having completed all of these things, I feel I was an impactful contributor to the BEJI, and look forward to how my role will continue to flourish with the initiative in the fall. The volume of work I was assigned or took on also afforded me wonderful insight into the world of work that I did not know before. For folks considering interning with the BEJI or an initiative like it, I now feel privileged to offer advice on what you can do to make the work all the more meaningful.
The first piece of advice I would give to someone interested in an internship like this is to honor the experience they bring to the table. As an undergraduate, it can seem daunting to enter a workplace staffed by adult professionals. Through my love for this work, the training and support from Hiatt, and the kindness of those I worked with, my age never felt like a deficit. Instead, I was honest when I needed help and advocated for what I believed was right. As a result, those I worked with trusted me. I honored both the areas I had room to grow in, as well as my strengths. A new set of eyes on a project is often a welcome presence! Lean into this opportunity and allow who you are and the unique skill set you bring to the table to guide you.
The final piece of advice I would offer is a note on intention. The world of summer internships can be a daunting one. It is easy to get lost in what sounds most sophisticated, or which job is likely to propel you the farthest. From my experience with WOW, I learned that the personal pride and care you can attach to whatever it is you do is the greatest marker of success. If you are intentional about finding a job that is meaningful to you, it will be clear to those hiring you, those who you work with, and those with whom you spend time.
Working with the BEJI was an intentional and incredible experience. Being able to reflect on it through these blog posts has made it that much more special. And I hope, through the culmination of these posts, it is evident just how hard I have tried to follow the advice I have laid out and how wonderful the outcomes have been as a result.