Working for BAGLY Inc. this summer has been very informative for me in regards to social justice and nonprofit work, as well as learning how an office job works. This has been an especially amazing way for me to learn about work after college because it is explicitly safe for members of the LGBTQ+ community. The organization is staffed by many people within the queer community and its purpose is to help the members of the LGBTQ+ community. My coworkers and bosses have all helped make this an informative work environment while feeling socially comfortable within my own identity. Although this internship has been mostly online, I have gone into the office once to do some written work and it was interesting seeing such a safe queer working environment. The office also functions as a community center for Boston, so it has a very safe and open feel to it.
While I was at BAGLY Inc. as an intern, I mostly did work behind the scenes that most people would not see. My impact mainly took work off the plates of the paid employees and made it easier for them to do less monotonous and more person-to-person work. I essentially helped BAGLY function better by doing administrative work such as sending emails to donors or thank you letters to people for donating. Although this is not very direct work for social justice, it does help to get more donations for BAGLY that can then enable the company to grow and help more people. It has also been nice seeing my coworkers help the company grow along by doing similar work because we know what we are doing is meaningful and a good cause. Getting to know my coworkers who are within the LGBTQ+ community also helps expand my connections as well as expands the LGBTQ+ community. My coworkers and I have come a long way since we first met.
Starting at BAGLY, I wish I had not been so afraid to meet and get to know my coworkers. Sometimes I can be hesitant in social situations and this time I was very hesitant. Through working at BAGLY, I have learned how amazing and supportive my coworkers are. This will help me greatly in a post-college career because I know not to be afraid to reach out and make connections. I have especially grown to know my coworker Mary, who is the one always in the office.
Someone who is going into the social justice or nonprofit field cannot be afraid to make connections. Connections are extremely important not only to secure a job, but also for doing anything within the field. If one needs people to donate, someone to write a blog post, or speak at an event, then one must be able to make connections. Social justice is not an easy field for a career, but it can be an extremely satisfying one if one truly believes in what they are doing.
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.
June was my first full month as a development intern with BAGLY Inc. BAGLY is an acronym that stands for “The Boston Alliance of Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Queer Youth.” BAGLY provides many services to members of the LGBTQ+ community, such as community events and temporary housing for homeless trans youth. This work is essential for underprivileged people of Boston, especially at a time when trans, abortion, and other rights are under attack.
I work as a development intern, which means I do mostly back end work. I have sent and created emails, created thank you letters, and sorted donor information in my first month as an intern. It is inspiring to see how many people support and donate to help the LGBTQ+ community in Boston.
Being a development intern has helped me prepare for my post-graduate career path in that I have had to delegate and be delegated tasks within projects. Working on these projects has taught me to also make sure to schedule my time with work, even if what I am doing does not need to be done for a while. It has also taught me to be able to work within a company, as it is my first real “office job.” I have learned to teach myself to navigate various programs such as Sales Force, which are used by many companies to manage their clients.
It has been amazing working at BAGLY during Pride month. Pride month is during June because the Stonewall Riot—which started due to police oppression of a well-known gay bar—occurred in June of 1969. This means that BAGLY has been supporting lots of Pride events such as Roxbury Pride Brunch.
I also attended a Pride event in Attleboro, MA to show my support. As a member of the LGBTQ+ community, it makes me very happy to see so much support for our community both within BAGLY and outside BAGLY. I have met many people within the LGBTQ+ community at BAGLY, which has been great for networking. I have gotten to know my manager Michael and the other interns Mary and Misty. It’s nice to know that I am accepted and can feel safe at this company because many of the employees are members of the LGBTQ+ community and its mission is explicitly pro-LGBTQ+. It is also nice to know that my own work is helping those who need it and getting funds to those who don’t have any.
Although most of my work has been remote, I still get the feeling I am part of a team at BAGLY because the cause we work for is worth working for. Through BAGLY, I can also meet corporate donors, which is amazing for networking with companies that support the LGBTQ+ causes, which may lead to more jobs after I graduate. My experience with BAGLY so far has been great and I hope to continue it for the rest of the summer.