These past few weeks at BAGLY Inc. has been a great learning experience. Settling in after the first month has helped me learn more about my coworkers and how the organization works. I have gotten more into a routine with my work, and my manager now assigns me more long-term projects. At first, I was working on shorter-term things such as cleaning up my coworkers’ backlogs and sending out emails to donors to BAGLY. Now, I am working on bigger projects.
The main project I have been working on is creating a spreadsheet with the contact information to as many school GSAs and school administrations as possible, which makes planning things such as pride events and awareness campaigns as easy as possible. This will allow BAGLY to spread its messages and help those in the LGBTQ+ community all over Massachusetts, especially LGBTQ+ youth.
I have actually been using some skills I have learned at Brandeis to create this list. For example, to get a list of all of the high schools in Massachusetts, I created a short and simple Python program to extract and clean the information I copied from the Wikipedia page of all the high schools in Massachusetts. I learned how to do this in my programming courses that I took at Brandeis. This means a lot to me because this is also one aspect of computational linguistics I will need to learn in order to get my degree in computational linguistics. That skill is the extraction and cleaning of language data.
Helping BAGLY create this contact list helps me to actually see the first steps that BAGLY makes towards helping the LGBTQ+ community, especially in places outside of Boston, because people mostly think of BAGLY as an exclusively Boston-based organization. This experience has also taught me how to look for data online and quickly find it, which is very helpful for any sort of online project or work project. Knowing how to find data is a super important skill in any internet based work environment.
Meeting my coworkers has also been great because I would really like to meet other members of the LGBTQ+ community and to network with them so as to build my own network of support, but also to strengthen the LGBTQ+ community itself. If we are all separate then can we even call it a community? Knowing that all the people I meet really care about the LGBTQ+ community like me also helps to start conversations and get along with my coworkers. Just being in contact with so many people who are part of and care about the LGBTQ+ community is amazing for my mood and outlook on life. It gives me hope for the future, even at a time when our rights are being taken away. A community is what brings a group of people together and allows them to fight for their rights, and organizations like BAGLY provide the resources to make these communities possible.