Internship Endgame


Having finished my internship, I have gained valuable insights on the positive and negative aspects of working at a small non-profit. Throughout the summer, there were four areas in which I was most affected developmentally: managerial experience, logistical operations planning, effective communication techniques, and most importantly, a much clearer understanding of social justice issues prevalent in our society.


In regard to the managerial experience, I was consistently working with the Director of Field Operations, ergo, keeping 21 college-aged fellows on track and focused on the objectives. I would routinely shadow fellows out during canvassing or voter-registration shifts, work with them, and make sure their program needs were met.

Similarly, I worked on logistics planning for special fundraising events and alumni gatherings to rally support for the social-justice specific causes the fellows were fighting for, thus I spent many-a-nights booking spaces, arranging transportation, and negotiating catering contracts.

I learned a great amount in regard to open and effective communication techniques, which I will take forward and certainly use both in my professional & personal life.  One of my favorite ways of hyping up the fellows (which everyone knew about beforehand) when they were grumpy, tired, and low-energy, was to pick a fellow at random and asking him/her “hey [so-and-so]! Why do you love clams” at which point they would make up an answer, and everybody within hearing-range would clap, hoot, and holler at the answer. It was a tradition in the program, and it was such an effective tactic to not only increase the group-mood, but also to improve inter-fellow communication (and keep them from isolating themselves).

Lastly, I learned about a series of social justice issues which ranged from institutionalized-racism, to the power of words & spaces that we employ/occupy, to historical patriarchy in society, to the importance of recognizing personal identity as a broad and fluid spectrum. Learning about all of these social justice issues gave me a much broader perspective on a number of societal issues, and has left me a more aware person. One example of institutionalized patriarchy which I never considered, but affected me profoundly, was the common practice of addressing multi-gendered groups of people as “guys” (“hey guys!”). I used to say this to groups of men and women interchangeably, and never considered that in saying “hey guys”, I was in practice perpetuating the cycle of institutionalized patriarchy in only addressing the men in a group. Now I make a concerted effort to us more gender-inclusive language when talking to multi-gendered groups such as, “y’all” or “everybody”.


The most interesting component to my internship was the time I  spent out working in the field, and the process of assisting with an educational leadership program, which ended up teaching me as much as the fellows. It really made me more interested in experiential learning and social-justice related education.

I would say that, at the conclusion of my internship, I have come away from it with a much broader perspective on issues of identity and oppression, and have realized that although I am passionate about social  justice, working in an office environment is not the medium through which I will leave my mark.

Noah Tai Litwer, ’15

Onward and Upward!

With week seven rolling by at The Oregon Bus Project, I have steadily become accustomed to my responsibilities within the program. All twenty-one of the Fellows of the political-organizing fellowship, “PolitiCorps”, have been working tirelessly in the four weeks that they have been here. As I discussed in my previous post, the Fellows had the opportunity to vote on which public-interest campaigns they wanted to work on for the duration of their ten-week fellowship. After hearing about the summer campaign goals from eight advocacy groups, the Fellows decided to work on marriage equality with Basic Rights Oregon, voter registration of people of color in marginalized neighborhoods with the Portland Urban League, and building support for the passage of a district school-bond with the Gresham-Barlow School Board (which has historically been a neglected and under-resourced district). In the ten weeks of their fellowship, they are knocking on doors and making phone calls, to build support for their campaigns.

As field intern, my responsibilities have revolved mainly around taking photos of the Fellows in action, maintaining a social-media presence through Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram,  managing day to day logistics for the program, and occasionally involving myself in the public-interest community outreach blasts. Working as a staff member on the PolitiCorps Fellowship Program has not only allowed me to work firsthand as a social-justice advocate, but also has fine tuned my management, social-media, and program-operation abilities. While working with the 21 fellows, I have acted as a group facilitator and resource for the fellows, for when they need advice or campaign resources. Having the opportunity to not only spend time in the office, but also talking to members of the community about significant legislative issues that affect social equity and equality, has allowed me to grow as an ally to socially marginalized groups and also has equipped me the necessary skills to pursue a professional career where social-justice is a focus.

In the past three weeks, I took on two additional responsibilities: field data tracking, and a personal project, which will illustrate the development of the Fellows by word-cloud at the end of the program.

On the data-tracking side of things, I have been using excel formulas to record and analyze the progress being made by the campaigns. By configuring data spreadsheets to convert raw data into percentages and sums, we are realistically able to determine the impact that the fellows are having on their campaigns, and the aggregate opinions of community members polled using campaign-related surveys.

I have also been able to track the development of individual fellows quantitatively, by recording individual values of: doors knocked, numbers called, and voters registered.

I am most proud of a personal project that I have started on my own initiative, to map out the daily experiences of the fellows visually. Beginning three weeks ago, I started asking the fellows to each write down one word describing their day working in the field. I began taking these daily anonymous twenty-one descriptors, drawing up a word-cloud, and e-mailing it out to the fellows each night; to allow fellows to gauge the emotional and experiential dynamic of the group, and adjust interpersonal behavior accordingly. (see below)

July 1st: Debrief Word Cloud

In addition to using the word-clouds as a means of increasing awareness within the group of fellows, it has also been a useful asset to staff; allowing us to gauge where the group is at emotionally as a whole. By the end of the year, with over one thousand words describing the ten-week PolitiCorps program, I will design a final word cloud which will be unveiled at the Fellows’ graduation ceremony, with the most commonly used words standing out as the largest in size.

My experience thus far has been ripe with practical skill-building, creative problem-solving, and management leadership skills; leaving me with a true sense of time well spent. As I continue to learn about the managerial and operational techniques that go into running a successful low-budget organization, I know that my acquired skills will help my future endeavors with my recently founded campus-organization, Brandeis Microfinance Global Brigade, to successfully make it’s maiden trip to Honduras this coming year. I have been able to talk to professionals within The Bus Project about grant-proposal writing, effective organizational communication, and the importance of properly promoting the brand and missions of an organization. In addition to the ways in which my experiences thus-far will aide my campus-organization, it may well also affect the trajectory of my professional career after Brandeis. But who knows? Perhaps it it will simply make me a more informed and active citizen. But it was, after all, Justice Louis D. Brandeis who aptly commented that, “the most important political office is that of the private citizen.”

My understanding of social-justice and identity issues has been stretched, and although it has been difficult at times to adjust the complexity of the lens through which I see the world, it has left me with a greater sense of awareness. I am thoroughly enjoying working at The Oregon Bus Project, and look forward to the final weeks ahead. 

-Noah Litwer ’15

Voter Reg'n

Exact Change: Working With The Oregon Bus Project

“Driving Votes. Driving Leaders. Driving Change.“

This is the motto of the non-profit organization I am working for this summer, The Oregon Bus Project.

The Bus Project was started in 2002 by a group of young Portland leaders in a bar who had a vision for local democracy. They were discontent with the status quo of politics, and decided that they wanted to turn things around by reinvigorating civic involvement among average citizens.  So they bought a bus, and recruited volunteers to make real political change and empower a new generation of democracy. They took the bus across the state, helped progressive thinkers win local elections, registered over 70,000 voters, and got thousands of people involved in the process.


Two years later, in 2005, the organization created a political organizing and leadership development fellowship program called “PolitiCorps”. The 10 week, bootcamp-like fellowship, was designed to train young leaders who were ready to commit themselves full time to working in public service. It developed into a vigorous and effective program, with close to 85% of each year’s 24 fellows going on to work in the public-service sector after graduation.

Eight years later, the program is still going strong. As the field intern on staff, my responsibilities are to assist the Field Director with all of the off-site events and activities, to act as a mentor to the fellows once they arrive, and to implement and sustain a social-media plan for the program.

Oregon Bus Project Reception


Over the past three weeks, we have been planning the educational curriculum, field training logistics, and program needs, to get ready for June 17th; the first day PolitiCorps 2013.

Instead of discussing my first week, I have decided to write my first entry on my first “phase” of my internship: Pre-Arrival Program Preparation.

I arrived to my internship to find the office space of The Bus in disarray. In the past year, the cost of rent had increased four-fold. This turned out to be a problem for our non-profit due to the fact that… we are a non-profit. Like many 501(c)3 organizations, The Bus Project operates on a fairly small budget. This year’s budget was especially low, due to the fact that net donations (the major source of funding) rise and fall cyclically with political election cycles. Due to the fact that 2013 is a relatively “unexciting” election year in Oregon and the nation, the budget this year is very small. This means that we’ve had to compensate for the 400% increase in cost of rent by consolidating the office into ¼ the space that it took up until now.In addition to getting rid of defunct equipment and furniture that we no longer needed, the individual offices turned into group work-pods (determined by department of the organization).

Although the consolidation of office space might sound unfortunate and less than desirable, the final product we ended up with was more efficient, social, and utilitarian. Everything had a place, and we were able to transform the office into an overall more effective center from which to plan, and eventually facilitate, the 2013 PolitiCorps program.


In addition to office reconfiguration, my duties have been in securing food and supply donations from local businesses (to alleviate program costs), coordinating local events for the fellows to participate in over the next four weeks, and developing a field-safety seminar to deliver to the fellows during program orientation.

Over the next few weeks, in addition to continuously registering first-time voters all across the state, the program fellows will *democratically* decide which social-justice public interest organizations they would like to plan and deliver a campaign-plan for. They will work 7 days a week, for 13 hours a day, for 10 weeks. My job will be to help make sure they stay safe, sane, and on track.

Noah Litwer  ’15

PolitiCorps staff (Me on the far left)
PolitiCorps staff (I’m on the far left)