Internships End, Careers Begin

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It is a part of the office. What I love the most about this place, aside from being stress-free, is that it is so colorful. It brings life and positivism into the room and its staff.

It is sad when something so special to you comes to an end, although, I knew sooner or later, my time would end in El Paso, Texas. Notwithstanding, I am so grateful for the incredible experience in a place where I never imagined I would ever venture to go to.

I keep remembering everything I did at Cinco Puntos Press (CPP) and I am shocked by all I was able to accomplish during my time there.

I kept organizing the e-books, it really was a big project that CPP had for me. It involved going one by one, making sure that every detail was correct. I had to start a few e-books from scratch, often it involved looking for the old files—sometimes they were nowhere to be found. It also led me to compile a list of the e-books that still needed some retouches from us and another column for missing files altogether.

In addition, I also created a metadata spreadsheet and it took quite some time. I needed to synthesize a lot of information about CPP’s books into this one spreadsheet. Even though, there were slots that I was not able to fill because I lacked the information, I tried my best to complete it as much as possible, since CPP still needed it.

These two big projects took most of my time, as the making of e-books is very time-consuming. None the less, I was more than happy to learn all these new skills as well as hone others. I do not think I ever used Excel as much as I did here at CPP. I got to do things in this internship that I had never done before, among them, I also corrected a catalogue, learn a little of creating newsletters, and met my new Bible aka. The Chicago Manual of Style (which I am still pending on purchasing).

Furthermore, what I most embraced about this internship is that I was included in every single one of their meetings and discussions. My opinion was much valued and that gave me a great sense of importance and belonging. Either if it was a story submitted for their consideration, or the final cover of Rani Patel in Full Effect, etc., they wanted my sincere opinion. I just loved their inclusivity. CPP not only preaches about inclusivity, as their main goal as a publishing company, they practice it—and very well indeed.

Mrs. Lee Byrd, said to me nearly the end of the internship, that they had not been around, as much time as they have wished, to teach me. However, I disagree, they were always there for me, but like the bird when they learn how to fly, you have to let them fall when they are trying, that is how they will learn. I think each and every single one at CPP, taught me something about flying and then I figured out the rest.

My internship did not conclude not without first having a great meal with the entire staff. I feel fortunate to have met them all. They are all colorful characters; people who have experienced a lot and are willing to share their knowledge with the younger generations. And just as the Hiatt Career Center always says, this was also a wonderful opportunity for me to “Network, network, network.”

I very much hope that I will get to see them next year, perhaps BookExpo in NYC? There are chances—chances for anything, even to keep networking and opening horizons. I learned from this experience that you should not limit yourself. Go out there and explore the world that is meant to be explored.

Santiago Montoya, ’19

A lovely end at the Red Cross

My internship at the Red Cross ended a few weeks ago. Although I’m back at Brandeis, I still think about my internship a lot and still keep in contact with the Red Cross. As I reflect on this summer, I feel so grateful and honored to have worked with the Red Cross because it is a premier organization that has the ability to respond to many different crises at the same time. The ability to help out and respond is not something that every organization has the funds or volunteers for, so I feel very privileged that I had the opportunity to work and learn in the Red Cross.

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A picture of the note I left the Red Cross before leaving. I also gave everyone a thank you card!

Before starting the internship, one of my main goals was to gain a deeper understanding of social justice issues in Puerto Rico because I felt that I had learned a lot about social justice issues in America, which is very different than my island. I think the direct field work that I did with the Red Cross,  like going into low-income communities and installing smoke alarms, really allowed me to dive into some social justice issues in Puerto Rico. However, I understand that there are many more complex issues in Puerto Rico that I didn’t get the chance to tackle and understand. I’m also struggling to bring these learnings back to Brandeis, in other words, how do we continue doing the work we did during our internships? What are ways to still be an activist, while also a student, besides joining a club?

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Picture of a volunteer at an outreach event we held at a shopping mall!

I have been thinking about how different or similar my internship experience would have been at an American Red Cross chapter not in Puerto Rico. For example, I felt very close to all the fellow interns and to my supervisors as well as the employees in the organization. We all had lunch together every day and joked between breaks. Since we shared a culture, we could all relate to each other and find humor in similar things. It’s also important to note that the work we did was mostly based in Puerto Rico, and so we were helping our people and that allowed us to get closer.  I wonder how this “work community” would have been different in another area with people from a different culture. I’m also thinking about what makes us feel close to other people, especially in a work setting that can be draining at times since we are constantly helping others and responding to disasters. Would I still feel a “work community” if I had worked in the marketing department, for example?

I think the best part about my internship at the Red Cross is that I’m still thinking about it and probably will for a long time because it raised a lot of questions for me (as explained above)! While I still keep in touch with the organization and the friends I made, I want to volunteer there whenever I go back home. As cliche as it sounds, when you are doing important work and you are part of a community, you make a world a better place and you become a better person. This is something that I’ve also incorporated in my work as an activist at Brandeis. Here’s to many more wonderful and social justice focused summers!

  • Claudia Roldan ‘18

Lessons Learned

Wow, it’s been over three weeks and I am still having difficulty processing this incredible summer. Throughout the 10 weeks of interning at Roots, I have met the most inspiring people, learned tremendously, and contributed to an organization I believe is making real strides towards peace in the land. I have increased my knowledge, humility, faith, hope, and passion.

One of my many goals for this summer was to determine if non-profit work in a peace-building organization in the region was something that I might like to pursue as an eventual career. While I still have not decided in which direction I would like to head professionally, I am still strongly considering the non-profit world, perhaps even more than I was before. What is definite is that this experience strengthened my resolve to work toward peace between Israelis and Palestinians through dialogue, activity, and action, in order to improve lives on both sides. I believe that this grassroots work can only truly take hold on a local level, so my desire to move to Israel after graduation has been strengthened as a result of this experience.

In this blog post, we were asked to talk about what we are proud of accomplishing this summer. I am most proud of not being afraid to go to new places, often thought of as “dangerous” by various communities, and to talk to people with backgrounds and opinions very different from my own. I am proud of myself for having an open mind, for asking questions, and for seeking to learn as much as I could. I am glad that I took risks and jumped into unknown situations – including the internship itself!

If I were to give advice to someone thinking about going into this field or interning for this organization, I would give them the same advice I received: be proactive and make the most of your time. Be flexible and ready for anything. Most of all, don’t be afraid to put yourself in new situations, talk to people, ask questions, and share your own ideas. Being the only intern can be very lonely, but you also have the opportunity to have a real impact on a small young organization – and that is priceless.13721269_660056010811577_1805919981_n

I realized that I join organizations like Roots and bVIEW (Brandeis Visions for Israel in and Evolving World), which have no specific political agenda, because I myself do not have a specific political solution in mind for this conflict. What I do believe, however, is that no political solution can achieve peace while we are all arguing with each other. Dialogue, mutual action, and a transformation of perceptions of the other must precede, coincide with, and continue after a political solution is enacted. At Roots, I sat with a group of Palestinians and Israelis (settlers, no less!), of different ages and backgrounds, as we went around the circle, articulating which political visions we support. With unbelievable calm and respect, every individual gave a different answer – almost half of them including the words “I don’t know.” This was quite a departure from the usual Israel/Palestine conversation on campus, wherein individuals enter conversations with set opinions and perceived facts. I learned from this summer how important it is to be okay with not knowing all the answers, to be open to discussion and changing perceptions, and to working with people you disagree with to resolve conflict. If Israelis and Palestinians living in the Gush Etzion area and from Bethlehem to Hebron can do it, surely we students at Brandeis can too.

Rebecca (Rivka) Cohen ’17

Wrapping Up the Summer

In these last couple of weeks, I made so many new friends and really got to explore the character of San Francisco. Now that my internship, along with the summer, has come to an end, I’m so grateful for the time that I got to spend there. At times it was hard and tedious scripting inside when I knew that the weather outside was so nice, but the sense of accomplishment when you finished a project was more than enough to fuel my progress.

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I would say that I’ve met my learning goals because I have learned so much in terms of information extraction from working with sources with all sorts of formats and different languages; and source analysis, especially since the projects that I was working on were a part of a much large collective project to collect and document linguistic information. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to learn as much about the translational algorithms that we use as I would have liked because of the time constraint, but it was still interesting to argue and research about semantic ambiguity and sense disambiguation in order to provide the best translating through our database. But, I think that I learned the most by absorbing information from the collective experiences of the wonderful staff that I worked with.

I think that this summer has made it clear that I am capable of data extraction work, but I also learned that if the sources are too similar to each other, the work eventually became tedious to do because at that point, you aren’t writing code but rather changing variables and conditional statements. I tried to combat that by switching which types of sources that I was working on as well as the language that I was processing through so that the challenges that I would face would be different. This internship has shown me that I am still very interested in how a computer understands languages, but I would rather process information that is not as regular as the dictionaries, webinaries, and sources that I have been working on over the summer. I’ve learned that I’m also very much into researching different ways to tackle a problem and debating with someone the pros and cons of implementing within a system.

2016-09-05 18.17.08My advice to anyone who would be interested in working at PanLex is to be really interested in the work that they are doing, and to take initiative to research and bring up projects that you would like to do with the staff. The staff is very open to different views and ideas as long as you can support why this would be more beneficial than the current way. Furthermore, take advantage of all the resources and opportunities that come with working for a branch of a larger parent organization, and the fact that you are in San Francisco. I went to talks that were held by the Long Now Foundation, including one on Quantum Computing and the Rosetta Project, and have gone to different conferences, such as IMUG, with PanLex. As for the field, at some times, the work will be tedious, and others you will be trying to debug a problem for hours without making progress. Take it one step at a time, and try to set mini goals for yourself. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or ask someone to look over your code, and most of all, don’t be afraid to take breaks. Sometimes, it’s a matter of being in a different mindset, and looking at the problem with fresh eyes.

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I think that the projects that I’m most proud of are the ones that focused on lesser-known, endangered, or extinct languages because I feel that by adding them to our database, we are doing our part in trying to fight against language death and proving a resource for languages that usually don’t get funding for translational programs such as Google translate. My favorite moments included when our database could translate something that Google translated as question marks, and I added linguistic data of a language into our database that was not supported by Google.

Sooyoung ’18

Wrapping Up My Internship With The UN

My lovely Ministry for Women, Community and Social Development —Division for Youth team
My lovely Ministry for Women, Community and Social Development —Division for Youth team

 

My internship in Samoa has been an unforgettable experience. Before embarking on this internship I set the following goals for myself:

  • Academic goal: To learn from my experience working in Samoa, the core skills and practical knowledge that will help me better understand the relevance of my studies at Brandeis to real-world development challenges.
  • Career goal: To conduct primary research in creative and innovative ways that will enhance my understanding of how technology may be used for youth empowerment and sustainable development.
  • Personal goal: To learn how to balance working in a professional environment with my spiritual and social life.

 

I feel that I achieved all of these goals during my intensely busy two-month internship at UNDP. Among my various jobs at UNDP and at the Ministry of Women, Community and Social Development, I found myself doing administrative work, conducting research and surveys, writing reports and providing technological support to others. These activities reinforced my learning at Brandeis and also highlighted the areas where I will want to do further studies at Brandeis.

 

A large and very exciting project I worked on this summer has been with the establishment of a Samoan/New Zealand government initiative called the High Tech Youth Network in Samoa. I was given the opportunity to assist with primary research for HTYN by designing and carrying out a survey, which we called a “snapshot” on youth perceptions of technology in Samoa.  As the director of the project is an administrator rather than a tech expert, I was also able to provide advice and support of this nature. I am especially proud of my work for HTYN because I felt able to contribute significantly. To date, the project has been implemented primarily by the director and with my support, so I have a great sense of ownership regarding this endeavor.

 

The personal goal above was the hardest one to achieve. I was pulled in so many directions, both at work and also in the community with my friends. I was called upon to help in many work situations that were not technically my responsibility but I found it impossible to refuse when asked to do something. And many times I jumped in because I really wanted to be involved. An example was working on various projects with the ILO (International Labor Organization), another UN agency, including a video project and several reports.

 

I officially finished working at UNDP on the 12th of August, however, for about a week after I had been going regularly back in to the Division for Youth office and also meeting with the in-country project manager for the High Tech Youth Network. On my last day in the office, I was surprised when all the staff called me to come sit down for a meeting. It was actually a farewell they had organized, and they gave me gifts! We also had cake together. It was a very heartfelt moment that I will remember, and I will continue to strengthen these friendships I have made this summer.

– Ben Percival

Reflections on a transforming summer

It has been a couple weeks since the end of the Asian American International Film Festival (AAIFF), and I have used the this time to reflect on how my experiences this summer changed me. After engaging with the festival on a daily basis for almost 3 months, my eyes have been opened to the commercial, artistic, and activist spheres of the film and media industry. My work at AAIFF exposed me to the success and the struggles, the tips and tricks, and the motivations and passions of independent filmmakers. I am incredibly grateful for the hundreds of actors, producers, filmmakers and industry people I was able to talk to throughout the festival – who passed knowledge onto me and allowed me to think more critically about the film industry and my potential role in it later.

A sold out screening during the festival! (Courtesy of AAIFF Facebook)
A sold out screening during the festival! (Courtesy of AAIFF Facebook)

Before I started my internship, I took note of my goals for the summer. Some of these were strictly professional and related to what I hoped to accomplish through my work, and others were more personal and focused on self-exploration. Through my work as the Special Events and Development Coordinator, I hoped to build strong relationships and partnerships, collaborate with my peers, and run events smoothly.

I am happy to announce that I accomplished all these goals. For example, at the conclusion of our Opening Night Gala all of the sponsors and caterers I had been working with for the past two months came up to me and expressed their gratitude for organizing the event. These interactions and signs of appreciation showed me that I had done my job correctly, which made all the hard work worth it. I was at my proudest moment during Opening Night when I saw the culmination of two months of work in one night and saw people enjoying themselves.

Additionally, by working everyday at a film festival, I made it a goal to immerse myself in independent film and film production. This was not a hard goal to accomplish since I had the privilege of watching any or all of the shorts or features that we put on. By the end of the festival, I watched every short along with a few features when I had time to sit in on the screening. After watching all of these high-quality films, I believe even more strongly in the need for Asian representation in the film industry – the talent and skill exists but people are not getting the exposure they deserve.

Opening Night of AAIFF'16! (Courtesy of AAIFF Facebook)
Opening Night of AAIFF’16! (Courtesy of AAIFF Facebook)

While my summer at the festival was nothing short of extraordinary, I have mixed feelings about the film industry. The festival often had to work with high-profile distributors and producers, which could become frustrating as we battled with deadlines and budget concerns. However, the world of arts activism, and especially Asian American representation in film is important and needed. Because of this, I would absolutely recommend that any other students interested in film or arts activism volunteer for AAIFF. Even though the film industry might be stacked against Asian American interests, the work that AAIFF and many other Asian American film festivals do remains vitally important as a platform.

Concluding Thoughts on My Experience at Massachusetts Peace Action

After concluding my internship with Massachusetts Peace Action, I have been able to take some time to reflect on my experiences, both positive and negative, over the past twelve weeks. Overall, my internship went very well and I learned far more than expected! Through my encounters in the office and at community events, I have been able to expand my professional network while making friendships that I am sure will endure as I enter the next stages in my life and career.

I realize now that social justice, though the term has many connotations, is fighting for the rights and ideas of those people who have been most devastated by oppressive political and socioeconomic institutions. As a Legislative/ Political intern, I tracked legislation on international conflicts including the wars in Syria, Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, Yemen, relations with Iran, Israel/Palestine, nuclear weapons policy, and defense appropriations bills. Additionally, I updated Massachusetts Peace Action’s various social media accounts, including Facebook and Twitter, on news and other related material. I even contacted legislative offices directly to communicate about our issues as well as Peace Action supporters to ask them to contact legislative offices.

Though I worked primarily on-site in Cambridge, I attended several MAPA events, oversaw information tables at the Cambridge River Festival, Lowell Folk Festival, our Distinguished Peacebuilders Series, and helped plan commemorations for the atomic attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It was truly special to attend the second anniversary of the death of Michael Brown.

August 9, 2016 ~ Activists arrive on Boston Common for a MAPA event to commemorate 71st anniversary of the atomic attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the 2nd anniversary of the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO.
August 9, 2016 ~ Activists arrive on Boston Common for a MAPA event to commemorate 71st anniversary of the atomic attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the 2nd anniversary of the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO.

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In general, I participated in efforts to communicate with United States legislators and other officials with local or international political power that the alienation of distinct religious, ethnic, or racial groups in this country and abroad is no longer acceptable. I also shared that inclusion is a necessary step if we are to foster a sustainable planet on ethical and environmental grounds.

 

The Mission Has No End

This summer I was able to complete the learning goals that I defined before starting. I think a big part of this was that I knew what to expect since it was my second summer with One Mission. Last summer the learning goals I set were not as in line with the work I ended up doing because I did not know what to expect, this year I was better able to gauge what the experience would be like before I started. The reason I was so eager to return to One Mission this summer is because they are exactly the type of organization I want to work for. My passion is pediatric cancer and a few years ago I discovered that within the realm of pediatric cancer nonprofit work, I am most passionate about that which is not medical based. One of my favorite things about OM is how big of an impact they have on the daily lives of these patients and families during treatment (http://onemission.org/what-we-do/). Research is so important but it is difficult to complete a lot of tedious work for things that may or may not end up helping anyone and even if they do it might take so long that you don’t see the benefits in your lifetime.

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In the workplace this summer I learned that my work is valuable. My boss and the other members of the organization were always so grateful of everything I did because it at times made their jobs easier. I spent a lot of time creating a proposal that is being sent to a greeting card designer in hopes of working together to develop an empathy card that appropriately address the emotions that pediatric cancer patients and their families are feeling. I met with a few different people in the office multiple times as I edited my project and improved the content. By the end of my internship I was really proud of the proposal I had created and am hoping that it will lead to a forming of this partnership.

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My advice to those who want to either work at One Mission or a similar organization is to be patient. I say this for two big reasons. My first reason is that sometimes there is only so much work to be done and they might have to send you home early. For a small organization that does not always have interns, they only take on so much and do not always have extra projects laying around waiting for an intern to complete. My other reason for saying this is that at times you will be doing a lot of tedious work. I have spent hours upon hours inputting check donations into our fundraising system or trying to come up with tweets for our twitter account (https://twitter.com/buzzforkids). These are things that I know are very helpful in the end but at the time can make your eyeballs feel like they are about to fall out. My two favorite experiences from this summer were the days that I got to help out with their programs. One day this summer my boss, the other intern and I went and served dinner at a pasta night funded by One Mission. It was great to get to see all of the patients first hand and how thankful the families were for the food.

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My boss Mel, other intern Rob and I serving dinner during a pasta night.

My other favorite was when I got to go shopping for toys for the treasure chest with one of the members of the Board of Directors. The two of us went to target and filled a shopping cart with hundreds of dollars worth of toys, books and educational materials. After we labeled all of them and sorted them to be delivered to the oncology floor at Children’s Hospital Boston. It was great to go on the monthly shopping trip to purchase toys for the Treasure Chest program that I had heard so much about.

Jen Rossman

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All of the new toys that were added to the Treasure Chest on the oncology unit at Boston Children’s Hospital in August.

Final Post

It feels strange that just two weeks ago I was still working, but now am switching to classes instead. Although I am excited to see my friends again, I am sad that I am leaving the world I was in this summer.

The view from my apartment (http://www.esbnyc.com/explore/tower-lights)
The view from my apartment (http://www.esbnyc.com/explore/tower-lights)

I did not have specific goals this summer, but rather simply to see whether I wanted to work in the non-profit sector after I graduated. Although I have thought that I wanted to work in the non-profit sector I felt it was important to actually get a taste of what it would be like to do non-profit work. Although working for a summer with a clear end date is very different than potentially starting a career, I think summer experiences are still very valuable. Working at Avodah this summer solidified in my mind that I want to do work like this after graduation. It also showed me that I want to do more work in the research side of non-profit work, rather than the financial and fundraising work that I have done more of in the past.
I am most proud this summer that I was able to be adapt to whatever was needed. Although I had consistent projects, there were also short term projects that came up when there were events or campaigns. My main projects were focused on recruitment, but the other interns (under other supervisors) and I would sometimes work together on phone-banking and helping to prepare for big events if needed. Avodah does not have a lot of staff, so on big projects everyone who can pitches in to help.
If I was giving advice to a student who wanted to work at Avodah or in non-profits as a whole, I think my best advice would be to be adaptable. Many non-profits are small organizations, so if there is a fundraising drive or important event coming up, all staff members may need to help, even if their job is not about fundraising or event planning. I also think it is important to have an open mind. There are a lot of different groups of people and viewpoints involved in non-profit work, and it is important to be able to listen to and try to understand where different groups are coming from, even if you do not agree with them. Specifically at Avodah, I think it is important to speak up if you want to, even if you are ‘just’ an intern, because each person has their own unique viewpoint that can be very bring a new perspective. Finally, I think it is important to realize that not all of the work is going to be fun or interesting. There can be a lot of grunt work that can feel repetitive at times, but it is still important work that needs to done.
For seniors who do not know what they want to want to do after they graduate, or who think or know they want to work in the non-profit sector, the application should be live soon: http://www.avodah.net/apply/.

Lydia Ruddick-Schulman ’17

Kids and Cataloging: Where did the Summer Go?

It’s mid-August and my internship at the Swedish American Museum has finally drawn to a close. I can’t help but wonder where the summer went! Even though I learned and accomplished so much, I still feel like there’s so much more to learn, somehow. I set out this summer hoping to advance my research skills, get practical experience that will help me become a historian in the future and to hopefully connect with my past by learning what it was like for my Swedish ancestors. To an extent, I accomplished all of this. I researched for a practical purpose – every now and then, a guest will come through the museum and recognize someone in the old photos on display; usually, the only information we have in regards to the photo is whatever the donor supplied, which isn’t always enlightening. On several occasions, I helped to dig to see if anything more could be found. There was also a lot of research involved with several projects for the children’s museum such as a self-guided tour. This last was probably the most beneficial for my career goals. In the beginning, I had hoped that observing guests in the museum, taking note of the most common questions, would help me better direct and focus any writing I would do for my audience; this was something I really had to work on when creating the tour guide. As for my personal goal involving my own Swedish heritage, while I gained knowledge on Swedish culture, I can’t say it was the right time frame to relate to my immigrant grandparents.

It was weird closing down my work station for the last time... Although I won't miss that loading screen!
It was weird closing down my work station for the last time… Although I won’t miss that loading screen!

While a curator’s job and a historian’s job are quite different, I can say that I now have a different view on the final product of a historian’s work, as both rely heavily on the presentation of the facts learned- historians via writing and curators via the display of artifacts.

If you ever find yourself interning at any small to medium sized museum, take into account that it’s not likely to be adequately funded or staffed, so everyone shares the work. Chances are, you’ll end up helping out in the store for a day or preparing crafts for the education department (or doing something like this: http://www.swedishamericanmuseum.org/museuminfo/news/event/pioneer-the-world-day-camp-%E2%80%93-session-i/) instead of working directly with the material and the artifacts. It may not be what you expected, but being shuffled around like that, you learn a lot; it’s up to you how you decide to apply that knowledge.

The children's museum comes complete with a ticket booth for kids to get their "passports", but I guess I'll need to buy my ticket back to Brandeis, huh?
The children’s museum comes complete with a ticket booth for kids to get their “passports”, but I guess I’ll need to buy my ticket back to Brandeis, huh?

I’m rather proud of this project: my supervisor, had received an email from a real estate agent, asking if we could tell her anything about the history of a certain building in another neighborhood. All she provided was an address. Not even knowing what connection this building had to the museum, my supervisor asked me to look into it. Naturally, the building wasn’t in our records, so I turned to Google; I dug and dug, flipping through real estate sites, census records, building codes, anything that came to mind. It wasn’t a particularly famous building, a small music venue, so there wasn’t a whole lot to be said, but after following dozens of links and Google searches, I found out that the architects of the building were a relatively famous Swedish duo (http://rpwrhs.org/w/index.php?title=Michaelsen_%26_Rognstad), known for their work in Chinatown. After finding that connection, researching was a lot easier and I was able to provide a fair bit of information. I guess the reason that moment sticks out for me is because it’s closer to what I was expecting/hoping to do this summer and I enjoyed using and proving my research skills for a practical purpose, outside of school.

 

Last Day at the Alzheimer’s Association

Flowers at the Walk to End Alzheimer’s

Today is my last day at the Alzheimer’s Association. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time here, and I feel that I’ve learned a lot, both about non-profits and about Alzheimer’s work. As a final reflection, here are a few of the biggest things I’ve learned:

  1. How to gain entry into and the trust of a population in outreach.

In order to gain access to and the trust of a population, there is often one key person acting as a “gatekeeper.” In this case, it was my boss. All of the contacts I made for interviews for my thesis were through her, as she is an established figure in the Hispanic/Latino community in Boston. She has made the effort to reach out and establish trusting relationships with different churches, organizations, and individuals throughout the community. What I learned from this is that outreach, education, and fundraising work best when individual, meaningful relationships are formed.

2. The impact of my thesis interviews was not just for me.

When I was out in the field, interviewing and talking to people, they always seemed very appreciative that a young person was interested in Alzheimer’s disease. When planning my thesis and designing my interviews., I had mainly thought about the impact the interviews would have on my project, but they also seemed to have a positive impact on my interviewees. They were happy to know that young people were invested in them, and they had a chance to tell their stories. It’s easy to forget that we shouldn’t just offer up information, but also let people respond and create a dialogue; the most effective care is usually a result of good communication between the care provider and patient.

Some more information about the Memory Café, one of the programs that I have worked with.

3. Seemingly insignificant tasks can have a big impact.

During my time here at the Alzheimer’s Association, I did a lot of “typical” intern jobs – copying, making packets, organizing drawers. One day, I spent a couple of hours organizing my boss’s file folders for her. Although it wasn’t too difficult and didn’t seem like a big job to me, she really appreciated it and it ended up streamlining her process when organizing for health fairs. I think it is easy for interns to get frustrated with this type of job, but it is important to remember that these little things that we do allow others to more easily complete bigger and more crucial tasks.

I am sad to leave the organization today, but luckily it is just a 10 minute drive from Brandeis, so I will hopefully be back to volunteer a couple of times during the semester!

Also, a quick reminder to sign up for your local Walk to End Alzheimer’s! The link is to the Greater Boston walk. Brandeis SEAD will have a team for the Greater Boston Walk on September 25th, so look out for that on campus!

Sign up for your local Walk to End Alzheimer’s!

Leah Levine ’17

 

Todos Somos Esperanza: A Summer of Social Justice in San Antonio

I finished my summer internship at the Esperanza Peace & Justice Center in San Antonio, Texas last Friday, August 19th. It was a (dare I say) fun and educational experience that taught me about San Antonio, myself, and social justice.

I met my learning goals in that I learned more about water justice and environmental issues in San Antonio. I especially learned how communities interact, shape, and benefit (or not) from the many aspects of “environment”—health, schools, safety, neighborhood cohesiveness, and gentrification, along with natural elements such as water and air quality. While I went in with a general context of my home city, I explored causes and effects of various environmental issues by working with people and policies.  This meant that I needed to do extra research, and push harder to keep informed about various topics like affordable housing rates, San Antonio’s history of ‘urban renewal’, impact fees, and more.

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Screencap of my presentation, 8/11/16.Video

I’m most proud of my growth in public speaking. I have always dreaded public speaking and I managed to avoid it for part of the summer, despite the encouragement from Esperanza’s director from the get-go. I avoided saying anything at the first few community meetings, including the one that I helped plan. Eventually, I had to start phone banking and reaching out to community members for events. Then, I had to prepare to speak about affordable housing and the SA Tomorrow Plan. I was nervous speaking both times in front of the Housing Commission and even more nervous my first time in front of the San Antonio City Council.  I ended with a presentation on impervious cover, something I believed needed to stay in the already weakened SA Tomorrow Sustainability Plan. The director of the Esperanza told me that every time we speak to advocate for change, it is a gift to the community. I’d like to think that my voice along with those of other allies helped push for community and environmental justice in San Antonio.

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Staff and interns at the Esperanza Peace & Justice Center, Summer 2016.

I think my summer internship at the Esperanza Peace & Justice center helped affirm my interest in community organizing and social justice work. I enjoyed working in a collaborative community with other interns and with other staff members. The work reflected communities we were trying to serve (and that people were from). On a personal note, I learned intersections of my identity such as class, being Mexican-American/Tejana, and queerness. I also learned that community members must be included in social justice work and must be empowered to make change in affected communities; otherwise, those trying to advocate for change follow the same pattern of patronismo—saying that they are doing things for people’s “own good” without actually consulting those affected—as the current forces in power. I learned that while I like working well in a collaborative setting, I should structure my own time a little better.

My advice for someone seeking to work at the Esperanza is that flexibility is key. Oftentimes, Esperanza and our team of interns had to work with various people. Sometimes people would side on progressive issues, who usually would not; other times we watched presumably liberal city council representatives vote for more conservative measures. Dealing with community members often required all sorts of flexibility, like speaking Spanish or talking about another event that wasn’t originally on the phone banking script or trying to explain the concept of privilege. Time-wise, we would often have to drop or focus less on certain projects if other events came up, such as votes on an affordable housing bond or even building maintenance. Everyone had their own schedule but we would share what they were working on, either at staff meetings or debriefs with the intern supervisor.

Also, the nature of the Esperanza Peace & Justice (and hopefully other community/social justice organizations) is to acknowledge and fight against oppression from all angles. This means it was difficult to focus on a single issue—I was involved in “Queer Corazones” outreach, a gentrification event called “Take Back Our City, affordable housing meetings, phone banking for different cultural performances, along with my “primary” focus on SA Tomorrow. I went in thinking that I would focus on one issue, but I ended up with a taste of different types of experiences.

Overall, my summer at the Esperanza was an amazing one. I learned different skills that I can take with me on campus and beyond and hopefully I will be able to return next summer and for years to come.

Anastasia Christelles, ’18

Social Justice WOW Fellow

Concluding Thoughts on my Clinical Psychology Internship!

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Outside my building on my last day of work

Before I set out on my internship at Harvard my two main learning goals were to get more insight into the field of clinical psychology and to gain confidence in my work abilities. I think that I achieved my learning goals defined at the beginning of the summer and then some! While not as hands on as I anticipated, my internship was a wonderful learning experience and I really valued the time I spent in the lab. I definitely saw what working in a clinical psychology field entails and how it is different from any other working environment. There is a strict level of confidentiality, especially when dealing with child clinical psychology. I always had to remember to keep data with participant’s names separate from the data with numbers as well as to only upload information that was non-identifying.

I feel that I also achieved my second learning goal of gaining a sense of independence and higher responsibility. I tried to be as professional as possible in all of my interactions and attempted to figure things out on my own before asking for clarification. That being said, I had to learn that it is ok to ask questions and to do so in a confident manner without self-blame. My goal was to appear mature and to not be seen as merely “the intern.” The lab was an incredibly warm and welcoming place and I definitely got a chance to socialize with everyone outside of just a working relationship.

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Ice cream with my co-worker

My internship this summer definitely helped me clarify my interest in working in a clinical psych field. I feel like my interest was really sparked whenever I was reading through the psychological measures given to participants or attending weekly seminars. I listened to talks that were on various topics in the field such as pediatric clinical psychology in a hospital setting and new approaches to looking at the role of parental behavior in anxiety. There is a lot of new and exciting work being done and it is inspiring to see so many people work furiously to ensure that the lives of children are improved.

Due to the nature of the work of my lab, as a volunteer I did not have direct contact with families that had risk or abuse situations. However, in my work I read a lot of participant files that describe traumatic events and sometimes even on paper the accounts were difficult to process. Also, I was in the room where the research assistants made phone calls to families. There were some conversations that described children wanting to hurt themselves or past abuse by others, which again was very disconcerting to hear. For anyone looking to pursue an internship in youth mental health, you should remember that the work that is being done will hopefully make a difference in the lives of adolescents. It is important to practice self-care and to talk to coworkers about issues that are of concern to you. In terms of general internship advice, I recommend trying to take on more responsibility and going above and beyond what is asked of you. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and to be specific about what you would like to learn from the internship.  I am most proud of navigating my internship, becoming more professional, and even when work was difficult – maintaining a smile on my face.

Melissa Viezel ’17

Final days at The Improper Bostonian

After 8 months of tucking my shirt in, morning commutes on the T and free K-cups, I’ve finished my internship at The Improper Bostonian. Looking back, it is the third longest job I’ve held – behind my on-campus job at Student Financial and Academic Services and my over 8 years of working for my family’s irrigation company (P.S. that’s my dad – like 20 years ago at least – on the tractor on the home page.) It was a great experience and I will definitely remember it as the place where I really launched my career in writing. Being able to continue working over the summer through the WOW program exponentially increased my skills, since I was able to build off of my existing experience.

I met the learning goals I defined for myself at the start of the semester, for the most part. I pitched and wrote a few different articles throughout the summer (my favorite being one about some local t-shirt designers), but not as many as I originally hoped. Overall, I wrote four different pieces over the summer, which really isn’t that much when you consider most online publications look for writers to contribute at least three different stories per day. My lack of writing was due to a few different factors, such as trouble with scheduling interviews and a lack of ideas worthy to pitch but I am still proud of the work I completed and will use them as samples when applying for jobs later on. The portfolio of work I’ve put together from my time at The Improper is enough to get my ‘foot-in-the-door’ at other publications, especially when pitching and submitting articles as a freelance writer.

The portfolio of work is the most important thing, career-wise, I gained from continuing on at The Improper for the summer. I came to the conclusion that I want to be a free-lancer, at least right after I graduate, and not be tied to a specific publication. I would much rather write and submit that work to be published instead of applying to different editor positions and hoping to get one. The freedom associated with writing strictly for the sake of writing and hoping to get paid for it afterwards is exactly what I’m looking for after graduating. I don’t want to have to show up to an office everyday and have to work through some of the intra-office problems that occur every day; I would like to simply focus on what I’m passionate about and mainly work for myself. Most likely later on in life, I will look for a stable job with a regular paycheck but working piecemeal and trying to broaden myself across different publications is much more exciting right now. That’s really how the career ladder works for writers and editors. Before any publication hires a writer full-time, they want to make sure the candidate can be counted on in the freelance capacity. This is exactly how it worked for one of my supervisors when she was hired for The Improper. She had told me she had done some freelance work for the magazine previously, and when her job position opened up, she was a much stronger candidate since she had already worked for the magazine.

As for other students looking to work in this field, and this definitely applies to working at The Improper as well, I would tell them to not be timid. Don’t be shy about your ideas for articles and other pieces, and just keep thinking. Don’t be complacent with what you’ve done so far; there is always more you can submit or work on – both for actual article submissions and just working as an intern. That is definitely my strongest takeaway from my entire summer intern experience. Simply work hard. Of course there will be times when you have to relax a bit and take your mind off of your work, but any writer or journalist knows that the mental effort that goes into the job never really takes a break. Ideas for stories and articles pop up everywhere, and keeping an efficient working habit, you can make the most of them.

 

Final reflections

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NCL’s executive director Sally Greenberg, fellow intern Hannah and I visited the National Museum of American History to see NCL’s exhibit.

I would like to think that my hoped-for experiences have become a reality. I’ve gotten to work on some really awesome projects during my time at NCL. Particularly successful and personally proud moments  include researching Duchenne’s Muscular Dystrophy in favor of FDA approval, writing a letter to President Obama to request a food waste initiative executive order, researching renewal of PDUFA VI, prescription drug policies, and consumer attitudes towards the pharmaceutical drug industry. I think a disappointing experience was at the very beginning of my internship. I researched and worked on a blog post advocating for HPV vaccination but it never got posted. I assume it was because there was too much scientific jargon and not consumer friendly enough. Since then, I have gotten much better at changing up my tone to write more consumer friendly blogs to inform the public about the issues that consumers face every day. Some topics I blogged about were payday loans, Wall Street regulations, and the borrower defense to repayment rule. In terms of spreading consumer education, all the interns and staff members collectively reached our goal of creating enough questions for the annual LifeSmarts competition. I also had the fortunate opportunity to meet and network with influential people from health and consumer organizations.
This internship helped clarify my career interest in health policy. However, I realized that I really don’t enjoy sitting at a desk all day behind a computer so perhaps a job in research is not for me. While I am still interested in policy work, particularly in regards to addressing health disparities, I am now also considering a path towards becoming a health care provider, perhaps a nurse practitioner. I prefer the nursing model more than the medical model because it looks at health more holistically.
I would advise prospective interns to be patient when it comes to implementing public policy reform. Sometimes things don’t always go your way but you just have overlook those moments that haven’t been necessarily successful and still move forward in your work. Policy reform requires a lot of time and it can be years before we see any real changes going into effect, especially with what often seems like bureaucratic ineptitude. In addition, be proactive and step out of your comfort zone, whether that is taking on new projects outside your field or attending networking events. There is always a possibility that you may enjoy something outside your direct field of work.
NCL allowed me to explore both interests in a way that I didn’t think was possible, especially at a consumer advocacy organization rather than a health organization such as CDC or NIH. Lastly, the location itself in Washington D.C. presents so many wonderful opportunities to attend various panel discussions on public health issues such as women’s reproductive health, HPV, DMD, Zika virus, global health infrastructure and many other issues. These events great networking opportunities for interns looking to enter this field of public health and health policy work. My time at NCL has been a great learning experience and I am very grateful to all the staff members who made my experience such a rewarding one.

Elese Chen

NCL's exhibit at the Museum of American History
NCL’s exhibit at the Museum of American History
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Washington Monument
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Sunset view at Key Bridge by Georgetown

 

 

Final Reflections on my Internship at IINE

Fourteen weeks and 264 hours later, I cannot believe that my time at the International Institute of New England (IINE) is over. My learning goals were to apply what I am learning in school to my work and to see if this furthered career interests. I definitely did apply what I am learning to my work. I am studying Politics and Economics and I used concepts from a variety of classes. I took The American Presidency, which helped me while teaching about currency and who is on which denomination. I took American Health Care, which helped me teach basics about health care and insurance in the US. This internship somewhat helped clarify career interests, but it also opened more interests for me. I am still interested in public policy and non-profits, but more in a management role. I am also becoming more interested in learning business skills, and I have signed up for classes accordingly.

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Relaxing on Free Fun Friday at the Arnold Arboretum

I definitely learned more about myself in the workplace. I learned to trust myself and to become a better decision maker. I often had to make quick decisions, whether it was in a class, on a field trip, or at a meeting. In the beginning of the summer, I doubted my skills and ability to help refugees find jobs. However, I gained the confidence that I needed when I realized that I did have the experience through having jobs in the US and through growing up here. IINE hired me to teach classes and work with clients, so I realized that if the organization and my clients believed I was qualified, then I was. I became better at trusting myself to make decisions, because everything does not always go as planned.

The advice I would give to a student interested in this organization and field would be to be patient and flexible. Working at a non-profit can be frustrating due to the lack of resources. For over half the summer, the staff squeezed into classrooms at a community center while construction on a new building was delayed. At times, it was frustrating when I could not provide T passes for clients who forgot theirs during a field trip or when clients are waiting to hear back from a job interview and they really want to work. I would give the advice to be patient and flexible, because sometimes situations do not turn out the way you expect or want. Resilience is an important skill and attribute to have. Despite the importance of these skills, working at the IINE was very rewarding. I would also recommend working in Workforce Development, where I interacted with clients more than the interns in the other department. I met many people on their first day of class in America, and taught them in Cultural Orientation and the Workforce Orientation Workshop. I helped them apply for jobs, practice for interviews, and conduct follow up. I became personally invested in their lives and futures, because I wanted the refugees to succeed in their jobs, and to create a life for themselves in the US. I would recommend this internship to anyone interested in non-profits, teaching, human rights, or management. IINE gives you a lot of responsibility, which is the best way to learn and gain new skills.

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After our field trip to the Harvard Museum of Natural History

This summer, I am most proud of the bonds I created with my clients. At the end of the summer, I am sad to leave because of the staff and my clients. I want to know when they get new jobs and how they are doing in their jobs. I am interested in seeing how they are doing a year from now– if they live in the same place, if they have the same job, or if they are going back to school. My clients talk about their hopes for the future with me, and I want to know how they are doing with their goals.

I loved working with the staff and other interns as well. On my last day, the office manager said I was always welcome back to work or volunteer. Being in Waltham makes the goodbye easier, since I was also told that if I am ever in Boston, I am always welcome to stop by the office to say hello. Thus, leaving was not really a goodbye and more of a “see you later,” whether it is emailing with staff, visiting the office, or volunteering in the future.

If you are interested in learning more about the current refugee crisis and the refugee resettlement process, this link from the USCRI is very helpful. If you are interested in learning about the work IINE does besides employment (which I did), here is a link to other services.

Lastly, I am so thankful to Brandeis and the WOW Fellowship for enabling me to have this amazing opportunity.

Emilie Kahn-Boesel ’18

Technology Consulting – Goodbye Lessons

As we are coming closer to the final presentation to the C-suite, light pressure is noticeable since this is one of the most important customers in the Middle East. In previous weeks research on several sites was performed using internal audits which required a lot of manipulation in Excel where once again Visual Basic programming saved me a lot of manual labour in generating graphs to showcase distribution of users and volumes on several spots across Dubai where Ericsson technology was deployed previously. After generating dozens of graphs it was time to create master PowerPoint. Even though the analysis part was over it was very challenging to fit two months of research and analysis in 45 minutes and on top of that still have CTO and CMO not fall asleep. The hardest part of the PowerPoint creation was deciding which parts of the analysis should be included and which ones were to be included. My mentor and I created the master PowerPoint and headed over to the Abu Dhabi office with several other colleagues to meet the Key Account Manager (main person responsible for relationship with the client). In that meeting my mentor presented our slides and while sitting I was just hoping there are no mistakes that none of us saw before but luckily except few colouring remarks the presentation was very good overall and the KAM was very pleased with the multisite analysis that I have performed in the past weeks.

I will be leaving Dubai soon with a lot of very nice memories tied to the city but more importantly many important lessons about my future career, meeting tight deadlines and navigating through corporate life.

Final Week @ SLI

My final week at Supportive Living Inc. felt like it wrapped up so quickly, and yet I cannot help but think it was just the right amount of time for me to move onto other things. There is no doubt that my time at Supportive Living Inc. was worthwhile and well spent. My learning goals were met because I got to delve into physical therapy, sociological research projects, and a multitude of activities with brain injured residents. Some residents may have impacted me more than others (there are a couple specific ones I wrote about in a newsletter for Supportive Living) and I know I will definitely visit them from time to time. 

This internship has definitely helped me clarify my career interests. Though enjoyable, physical or occupational therapy is not a field I wish to pursue. I have found research to be incredibly intriguing and more suited towards my personality and interests. I have also learned more things about myself. Not to “toot my own horn,” but I believe I am very good at connecting with certain kinds of people who otherwise are very shy and reserved. I have experienced some incredibly touching and memorable moments with some residents who usually never talk or open up. 

If any other student would like to pursue this internship, I would encourage them earnestly. Especially if one is interested in public health but does not know what aspect of it to work in (like me). There were many interns who I worked with who were interested in neuroscience as well as health sciences and psychology majors. Those who are interested in learning about the post traumatic effects of brain injury should definitely try this internship. However, if you are more interested in learning about the more scientific research of neuroscience, I would recommend a different kind of internship. SLI research is more about sociological research rather than lab work. 

The aspect of this summer internship I am most proud of is how I was able to make connections with people at Brandeis. I think it is very important that I take away some things from this internship that could directly and positively affect my future. I was able to meet another Brandeis student who introduced me to Brandeis Global Brigades (a program I might join in the spring), and I was also able to meet Dr. Laura Lorenz, a visiting scholar at the Heller School. With Dr. Lorenz, I was able to discuss a possible independent study with her when I come back to Brandeis in the spring. I am proud at how I was able to make some immediate plans with Brandeis staff and students concerning my academic future. 

The pictures below include my video project, a bike exercise with an intern and an immobile resident, and a bonsai activity. 

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WOW Fellowship: Last Chapter

On the last day of my internship at the Anti-Defamation League, I decided to read through my application for the WOW fellowship. Although nostalgia was hitting hard, I had a big smile on my face as I recalled the anticipation I had for this internship, and the reality that all of my goals were not only reached but surpassed.

Before I began my internship, I had a clear vision of what I hoped to gain, contribute, and learn from this experience. On an academic and career front, I hoped to further develop my writing abilities and become very comfortable in an office setting. Looking back on these past few months, it’s clear that I’ve done just that. I wrote a lot this summer and feel far more comfortable drafting professional letters, op-eds, and press releases. It was an honor and a blessing to further develop this critical skill while contributing in a meaningful way. Feeling comfortable in a boardroom setting is definitely not an issue after spending 200 hours in a non-profit work environment. Interning at the Anti-Defamation League gave me a clearer sense of what I want in my career and reaffirmed that I thrive on contribution and connection.

My personal goal was, by far, the most important one: to challenge myself and stretch far beyond my comfort zone. Before I began my internship, I thought I had a pretty good sense of what working in the field of social justice would be like. After all, I had taken several related classes, completed ADL’s A World of Difference Peer Training, and volunteered in their office throughout high school. From day one of my internship, it was clear that I’d only gotten a glimpse of the type of work I’d be doing. Being immersed in combatting the anti-Semitism, bigotry, and discrimination that still plagues our world is anything but comfortable, especially for a girl who doesn’t even like to watch the news! Each day, I conducted media searches for terms like bullying, anti-Semitism, and racism. Being on the lookout for acts of discrimination and prejudice was often uncomfortable and difficult for me. But as I moved further into my internship, I began to see tragic news stories as opportunities for organizations like the ADL to make the world a better place.

This summer has been a summer of growth. I walked in excited, anticipating the incredible lessons to be gained from this experience. I’m leaving truly inspired, and ready to take these lessons back to Brandeis. Reflecting on this summer, I feel proud of what I’ve accomplished and grateful that I was able to contribute so much. I think my greatest impact was in kickstarting various projects that had been pushed back. Toward the end, a significant part of my internship involved locating the contact information for each principal in the state of Florida. Standardized testing had been scheduled during a window of time that included the Jewish High Holidays. Several schools had scheduled testing during these holidays, which presented an issue for many families. Because we reached out to each district, schools are now better informed and fewer students will face this dilemma.

The advice I have for future ADL interns or social justice WOW fellows is simple: keep a clear vision of why you’re doing what you’re doing. Social justice work is critically important, but it’s also very difficult and emotionally trying. As Olympic athlete Mallory Weggemann says, “You see bad things happen, unfortunately, it is inevitable, but they don’t have to take our ability to believe in the beauty of tomorrow.” Reminding yourself each day of the purpose of your work — the people, the goal, the future —  will be your fuel. This will give you the ammunition to continue on, in high spirits. I’ve learned from the best: The ADL staff always seems to remain optimistic by creating a positive and hopeful work environment.

I will truly miss the incredible and inspiring staff at the Florida regional ADL office. I am so grateful that I was able to participate in such a life-changing experience with such wonderful people!

A Fulfilling Summer at Lawyers for Children

In the final few weeks of my internship at Lawyers for Children, I spent more time accompanying the social worker I was shadowing on court appointments and client interviews. I also started to form closer bonds with particular clients I had met multiple times over the course of the summer. Two of the goals I set out for myself at the beginning of the summer were to learn how to be a more effective advocate and to improve my communication and listening skills. By watching the way attorneys spoke to their clients before court and spoke up for their clients in court, as well as observing the way family court judges took into consideration a child’s wishes, I’ve seen first hand the way that advocates work to help those in need. I also learned a lot about how to listen effectively to children by observing the way the social worker conducted interviews and in speaking with the clients myself. One of the skills I observed and developed at LFC that I think will be particularly helpful in the future was how to talk to kids about trauma in their lives in a way that is empowering to them and does not require them to relive the experiences we needed to get on the record.

Although it was often disheartening to hear about trauma in children’s lives and not know for sure whether or not we could help or heal them, I felt sure at the end of each day that the work we’d done had a positive impact in our clients’ lives (whether we were acting only as a listening ear or fighting in court to get them removed from a dangerous home environment). Having a positive impact in our young clients’ lives made all the work I did this summer entirely worth it. I would definitely like to continue working to improve the lives of children in the foster care system in the future.

 

 

First Day of Work
First Day of Work

 

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Handing in my ID card on the last day of my internship

If I were to give advice to another student who wanted to work at Lawyers for Children, I’d tell them to prepare to work hard. Interns were with their supervisors all day which meant that they were living the life of an attorney or social worker during the whole internship. The advice I would give to an individual interested in an internship working with foster care children is to think hard about whether or not they have the patience to work with children and whether or not they really enjoy it before they sign up. Children can sense whether or not someone is invested in their lives and is listening fully to their narratives.

The thing I am most proud of after working at LFC for 10 weeks is the connections I made with two clients in particular. One child, a 14 year old trans girl, was in a situation where her case planner was transphobic and she wasn’t getting the support she needed at her placement. During a conference about the youth’s progress at the facility she was placed in, I got on the phone with the facilitator and explained what was going on. Our client heard me, and seemed to appreciate my standing up for her. Another client who I was helping get supplies for her unborn child was telling me about her life and stopped to say, “You know, I think you’d make a great social worker. It seems like you actually care about what I’m telling you.” It was then that I felt most sure that I want to continue working in this field in the future.

 

Rachel Geller, ’17

Social Work WOW Fellow

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Friendraising” in Nantucket

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On the ferry to Nantucket

It’s hard to believe that my internship at Living on Earth is now over. I miss the creative and supportive atmosphere, the interesting stories I helped produce, and of course, I miss working on such important mission.

My experiences during my last week reminded me how important that mission really is. To close the internship, I attended a “friendraising” event that the show hosted in Nantucket with the other interns in the office. I had the opportunity to tour the UMass Field Station on the island (where the event took place) and listen to a few fantastic speakers, like New York Times bestselling author Carl Safina. At the event, I met students and adults from all over who were passionate about protecting the ocean. And the speakers shared emerging science that may be able to help us connect with, and therefore

With the rest of the Living on Earth family in Nantucket
With the rest of the Living on Earth family in Nantucket

preserve, our environment. In fact, there is even emerging science being studied at the field station itself. 

One line of one of the speeches got to me in particular. Safina said,  “We now know, and by that I mean the few scientists that read the paper know that….” He then went on to say that most of what the scientific community knows about is not  known by the general public. That is, a huge portion of scientific knowledge is inaccessible to the very people that scientific issues affect.

This is why journalism is important. Journalism is a medium that can make scientific papers, complicated policies, and other jargon-filled issues accessible to the ordinary person. Journalism has the power to boost scientific literacy and expose important truths. I am so glad that I was able to learn about this field through my internship!

Recording my own piece
Recording my own piece

I’ve been able to meet inspiring individuals who we invited to the show who are trying to make a difference on our planet. I’ve been able to learn about the creative processes that go into making a radio piece. And I’ve been able to work on every step of that process. I feel so grateful for the opportunity to be part of it.

I hope to continue exploring my interests in journalism and the environment. In fact, I’m taking both environmental and journalism courses this upcoming semester. I’m not sure exactly what I want to do after graduation. But I know that my internship prepared me to work well in a team, to think creatively and to be passionate about working hard in whatever field I choose.

My internship’s over, but I know that the connections I made this summer are not. I met mentors and friends that I hope to stay in touch with for a long time. To all of my friends who I have told to listen to the show: don’t quit just yet. There are still 5 or 6 pieces I’ve produced that have not yet aired. Keep your eyes peeled!

 

~Jay Feinstein

Social Justice WOW Recipient

Finishing Summer at SACHI

Leaving any project is difficult, especially ones worked on exclusively for an entire summer.  It seems like the finished product is rarely what was initially planned. I believe this is because better ideas have organic growth during the maturation of a project. The summer and my internship finished before I knew exactly what was happening.  There were twists and turns, and here I am with a finished project and a head full of knowledge and experiences.

I learned how to use the javascript library D3 (https://d3js.org/) to build my visualization, a standard in the industry, and improved my programming skills in general.  During my internship, SACHI began a reading group to discuss important foundational papers in Human-Computer Interaction and to keep up with the current research being conducted in the field; we would read a paper every week and discuss its contributions to the field and its research methods.  These discussion groups provided me with insight I didn’t plan on receiving.  Analyzing the research methods of other people (especially groundbreaking research) provided me with a strong foundational understanding of the field and its methods.

Photo: http://www.wired.com/2013/12/tech-time-warp-engelbart/ From “The Mother of All Demos”
Photo: http://www.wired.com/2013/12/tech-time-warp-engelbart/ From “The Mother of All Demos”

This additional understanding, along with the work I completed this summer, has helped me cement my interest and future goals in Human-Computer Interaction and more specifically Information Visualization, as well as helping me plan potential future research of which I wish to be a part.

This summer also helped me through a great deal of self-reflection.  I had never traveled to a foreign country alone, and living in Scotland for three months was a sink or swim exploration into the daily reality of adult living.  While at work I learned the power of persistence (if I don’t fix this bug, nobody else will) and how to work a full day in the lab, I would go home and learn the amazing power of a grocery list before going shopping (I have a problem with impulse shopping when alone).  At the beginning of the summer I was terrified I was unqualified for my position and unqualified to be a functioning adult.  But I did it!  It was difficult, admitting sometimes that I didn’t know what I was doing and asking for help, but that’s universal.  Very few people are experts at everything, and most people are glad to help.

That’s been one of my huge takeaways and something I’d recommend everybody take advantage of no matter their field.  Talk to people! To anybody working in a computer science or any research lab like SACHI:  Ask people about their research.  People are all doing incredible things, but people rarely share their work without prompting.  Now, most people in the lab are working towards publishing for the biggest Human-Computer Interaction conference, CHI (https://chi2016.acm.org/wp/).  I’ve learned so many things just from casual conversation, and in turn, getting feedback from somebody else on my own work is useful when I’m stuck or frustrated.  Sometimes I forgot the big picture can be groundbreaking when I’m stuck on one piece of the puzzle, and that’s how to keep motivated.

To anybody working in research, design, or even just computer science as a field, I would highly suggest exploration in your work.  When there are multiple ways to accomplish a goal, don’t just choose the method that first comes to mind, spend an hour or two (or more), following other trains of thought.  When facing a problem from multiple directions, you get a more clear view of what the solution needs to include.

And so now I’m done.  That in itself feels like an accomplishment.   But even more than that, I’m proud that I get to continue.  The work could still be improved, and that’s the plan.  I hope that my visualization will reach a point that it’s publishable.  This summer was absolutely fantastic, and I’ll not only look back on the memories, but forward to what I can now achieve.

One of the SACHI weekly meetings
One of the SACHI weekly meetings

–Katherine Currier

The Fortune Society: A Summer Well Spent

My internship this summer with The Fortune Society is one that has really opened my eyes.  When people think of those involved in the criminal justice system, individuals with Master’s degrees or those fueled by intrinsic motivation typically don’t come to mind.  Why not? This is because unfortunately as a society we’re taught that these people are somehow less “human” than we are and that they don’t deserve the same place in our society. One of the many things that my internship with The Fortune Society has taught me that these people have often experienced trauma, are in need of support and resources and are good people who are still trying and still hoping.

 

Me and some of the other interns/volunteers at a rally we attended on behalf of The Fortune Society.
Fellow interns/volunteers and me at a rally we attended on behalf of The Fortune Society.

While this internship has not solidified exactly which social justice issue I want to fight for within the criminal justice system,  it has reassured me that this is the field in which I want to work.  As had been my goal, I also learned about the criminal justice system and how it affects and individuals and family systems. Having the chance to see the effects this type of work can have on people is truly a remarkable and humbling. One moment that immediately comes to mind was how thankful a group of veterans were after we held a focus group to help improve policies that create reentry barriers for them.  This moment was such a fulfilling one because I didn’t realize how much of a toll veterans can face coming out of the criminal justice system until I had a chance to sit and listen to folks and shaking their hands.

One thing I realized about myself this summer is how privileged I am, and how privilege operates.  The fact that I have a home,  access to food and the ability to pursue a higher education – and that I can afford basic luxuries such as having a phone and leasing a car – are now things that I have a renewed understanding of because I know that so many people do not and will never have these things.

The participants of Pro Bono Day, an event Fortune holds to educate attorneys on the programs they have and the advocacy work they do.
The participants of Pro Bono Day, an event Fortune holds to educate attorneys on the programs they have and the advocacy work they do.

If someone is getting an internship within the criminal justice system non-profit sector, I would advise keeping an open mind, because the stories you’ll hear about an individual will far surpass the rap sheet someone has to their name.  As the founder of The Fortune Society, David Rothenberg often says, “the crime is what people did, not who they are.”  If someone is fortunate enough (no pun intended) to secure an internship with The Fortune Society, I would recommend to voice your opinions and don’t just be a yes-man.  Your opinions will be appreciated!  If you want to learn more about my experience at Fortune or are interested in interning there, here is the link towards the Brandeis Internship Exchange, and this is my email.

One thing of which I am proud that I did this summer was helping to make a mere dent in reforming the criminal justice system.  Seeing and hearing first-hand how this unjust system can affect not only the individual but their family and even community, a whole other dimension of the justice system unveiled itself.  I think it’s a dimension that needs to be discovered through hearing someone’s story from their mouth, not reading it in a newspaper or even reading this blog.

Community Building in Hinche

During my time at ETE camp, I’ve really engaged with parts of myself that I didn’t know existed. To say I’ve stepped out of my comfort zone would be an understatement. In my time in Haiti, I’ve gained more insight into education but most importantly I’ve witnessed firsthand the necessity of communal transformation. There are many qualities that are accompanied with a good education, including qualified teachers, supportive parents and other adequate resources that’ll contribute to the success of the student. However, a very crucial but often overlooked portion of education is the help of the community. The community is what

Here is a picture of one of my students presenting their project.
Here is one of my students presenting their project.

held ETE camp together. The success of ETE camp wouldn’t be visible without communal interference. The community held all of us responsible for igniting the minds of their children and in return we received their grace and aid. We received their support in the little things such as neighbors accompanying us to the store or simply offering help whenever needed. This also included house maintenance issues we faced during our stay. This performance of community played a role when my supervisor was forced to leave the camp due to unforeseen circumstances. In this time, it was up to us and the Hinche community step up and run the camp efficiently in her absence. The community worked together to still facilitate graduation and final projects despite her absence. The community was able to run this program efficiently without direct oversight of the director. We were able to make all of their certificates, organize and clean the school, and operate breakfast and lunch on our own. One parent even volunteered to video record the entire graduation ceremony. I was so grateful to witness a community uplifting each other and maintaining a positive program made for their community.

Honestly, this internship has left me with more questions than answers as far as my career goals. However, there a few things I can see myself doing after graduation. Primarily, I can without a doubt see myself working with kids. At first, I was pretty certain working with younger kids would require too much emotional and physical labor. Though, by the end of the program, I couldn’t stay away from them. Working with them has given me patience and so much compassion. With that being said, I see myself working for Teach for America. Almost all of my co-workers have worked with Teach for America and described their experiences as nothing less than extraordinary.

For anyone who would like to work with educational nonprofits, I would tell them to always remain ready for improvisation. I tend to thrive in comfort and structure and working in Haiti has shown me that I am capable of bending and making it work. I didn’t believe I had this quality to improvise without leaving students behind. Another thing I would tell them is that, one should always conserve resources. There is rarely a surplus in school supplies and other resources. Save everything! You never know if the budget will be as big as the organization would like. The money needed for that fiscal year will not always meet the demands of the organization’s budget. Donations and sponsors are crucial to the maintenance of the program as these programs offer free services for their community.

The thing I am most proud of however is facilitating a poetry workshop for the students at ETE camp. They created their own acrostic poems in English and Haitian Creole. Their poems composed of adjectives and positive affirmations that described them. I felt that it was crucial for students to be able to express themselves both in English and their native tongue. This project benefits the organization because we are now able to use the student’s work as an incentive for donations. I was so happy to contribute and share the veiled brilliance of my students.

Here are some student highlights of the poetry project.
Here are some student highlights of the poetry project.

The Final Performance at Williamstown Theatre Festival

As my last performance here at Williamstown Theatre Festival came to a close, I couldn’t help but reflect on all of the amazing experiences that I had throughout this summer. I definitely feel that I met my defined learning goals academically, professionally, and personally as a Stage Management Intern at WTF. After this internship, I believe that I am a much better stage manager and I cannot wait to apply everything I learned to future endeavors.

Here I am at the opening night gala of And No More Shall We Part.
Here I am at the opening night gala of And No More Shall We Part.

Interning at WTF  helped clarify my career interests. Before coming to Williamstown, I thought that I wanted to work in higher level theaters in Washington D.C. and then eventually move to New York. After working alongside many New York theater professionals, I have discovered that I want to move to New York right out of college in order to eventually work on Broadway.

I would greatly recommend an internship at Williamstown Theatre Festival. However, it is important to go into the job knowing that you are going to work a lot of hours and be beaten down to be built back up better than you were when you started. Working at WTF is extremely intense, but you learn so much about yourself, your work, and how you fit into this industry. You are able to work alongside some of the top theater artists in the country and become part of an amazing community that will ensure that you will be successful in your career. Working at WTF is also so much fun (people often compare it to theater camp, since you are working and living with about 350 other people who work in the theater in some capacity). Here is a video that the WTF company created at the end of the summer.

These are 13 out of 15 Stage Management interns. We all became extremely close throughout the summer.
These are 13 out of 15 Stage Management interns. We all became extremely close throughout the summer.

All internships in the theater industry are extremely different depending on the level of the theater and the specific field in the theater that you are interning in. I have now experienced 2 Stage Management internships and they were incredibly different, but equally rewarding. It is important to understand the internship before you accept it-some theaters have developed internship programs, while some just hire interns. Although both have their own advantages, with a specific internship program, you often get to attend specialized workshops and work alongside other interns. Both summers I worked in a specific internship program, but last year I was one of three Stage Management interns and this year I was one of fifteen. The main difference in my two experiences is that Williamstown Theatre Festival is bigger in every way.

 

I am most proud of my ability to fit into and be successful in a rehearsal room alongside theater professionals. Working on And No More Shall We Part was an incredible experience where I felt respected in the room while working with Alfred Molina and Jane Kaczmarek. This show was a beautiful piece of theater and it was amazing to develop such close relationships with actors who have had long successful careers and are much older than I am.

The Stage Management team, crew, and cast of And No More Shall We Part.
The Stage Management team, crew, and cast of And No More Shall We Part.

~Hannah Mitchell ’17, Theater WOW Recipient

Leaving the Lab!

My last week at the Nels Nelson North American Archaeology Lab at the American Museum of Natural History was last Friday! It’s sad to be leaving the museum, but I’m glad I got to work with great people and learn a huge amount about this particular lab as well as a great deal about the future and current state of archaeology in North America. I’m really glad I was able to do several different projects each day as well. I would say I had to tweak my expectations slightly as I wasn’t quite sure what the majority of the work I would be doing this summer would be, but that is hardly a bad thing! With several smaller projects, I was able to learn about many different aspects of the lab. This included working in photography, ArcGIS, consolidating, rehousing, cleaning artifacts, data entry. It seems like I was able to do a bit of everything, down to scanning field forms.

Lab tower

I would say I met my goals for the internship this summer, including being able to put the work we are doing in the lab into context with the people of St. Catherine’s Island through the generations of inhabitants and their technologies. I am certainly more comfortable working in the lab in the last week than the first week, and I have also learned a great deal from my fellow interns who are all at different stages in figuring out their futures in archaeology, whether that includes graduate school, contract archaeology, or museum work. And it has been a great experience living in New York this summer.

I’m not sure yet whether I am more clear about my career interests, but I am definitely more clear on the options in Archaeology and Anthropology that are available to me, and I am in the process of narrowing down the fields I am particularly interested in; including Human Osteology, Conservation. I certainly have a better sense of how to proceed to continue a career doing archaeology, and that includes a lot of new technologies in the field including GIS and various forms of 3D scanning, including photogrammetry. At the end of the internship we were able to discuss how to move forward and the different options available. If I had to give advice about internships in this field I would certainly recommend applying to the NAARCH Lab and definitely to ask questions not only about the work but about the field in general and talk to the people you are working with. Throughout this summer, I am most proud of just keeping a journal of everything I did each day, and taking notes during our discussions. Since I did so many different small projects, it makes it a lot easier to remember what I enjoyed the most and what I had more trouble with and need to work on, and that will definitely help me in the future. All in all it was a fantastic experience! I think it has had a great effect on my perceptions of the field and lab environments, and it’s a great jumping off point moving beyond Brandeis!

79th Street entrance to the museum
79th Street entrance to the museum

Completion at Rosie’s Place

I can’t believe how fast my ten weeks at Rosie’s Place have flown by! I am so thankful for the opportunity I had interning there and for the amazing staff who helped and supported me through everything. All of my expectations about the internship have been exceeded and I am surprised how much I have personally grown because of the work I was doing.

All day at Rosie's Place with fellow interns
All day at Rosie’s Place with fellow interns.

At the start of my internship, my four internship goals were to gain a deeper understanding of poverty and oppression from the women who come to Rosie’s Place as well as the root cause of these conditions; to learn more about who are poor and homeless women in Boston and what circumstances brought them to Rosie’s Place; to develop a greater sense of responsibility and ability to work to bring about social chance and equality; and to better understand how a medium-sized non-profit operates. My two department goals were to learn how to communicate effectively with all the different people that I encounter and to learn to take more initiative as I get more comfortable with the front desk. I am happy to say I did meet my defined goals through my daily interactions with guests and attending direct service meetings, Social Justice Institute seminars, and weekly intern meetings.

This internship has really helped me understand and see what it is like working at a non-profit and in direct service. Before the internship, I did not know that advocacy was a potential career option, but I have also learned that direct service is not the only path in social justice work. The success of a non-profit like Rosie’s Place is how multiple different departments work together toward finding solutions to poverty and homelessness on a small and a large scale. This summer in the workplace, one of the biggest lessons I have learned is how to find my voice to be more assertive. I also learned more about my levels of comfort as an introvert working such an extroverted job and how to set boundaries for myself.

My advice to a student interested in an internship at Rosie’s Place is it is completely okay to feel overwhelmed at first but you will always be supported by a great staff. The front desk staff members were there whenever I had questions and always had my back. My advice for a student interested in this field is the importance of self-care, understanding that the work is difficult and may lead to burn out if you do not set boundaries or if you bring your work into your personal home life. Volunteering is a great way to start getting involved.

This summer I am most proud of the personal interactions and connections I was able to make with guests, staff, and interns at Rosie’s Place. I very much felt included in the community and was able to share my ideas and contribute to projects that will exist even after I have left. The act of being present every single day made a difference in helping and talking to the guests because we are not just providing services for poor and homeless, we really care about our guests and finding solutions to end poverty and homelessness.

Final Reflections: A Summer at United for a Fair Economy

My internship at United for a Fair Economy (UFE) provided me with so much more than I expected. I went into this internship with the goal of gaining a better understanding of how a nonprofit organization actually operates. Interning at UFE helped me gain a more comprehensive understanding about the processes involved in successfully and efficiently running an organization.

UFE gave me the opportunity to work in many departments which gave me a holistic understanding of a nonprofit. When a staff member went away for a couple months I took over all donation processing; I worked on data analysis and graphic design projects; I helped the Finance department prepare for an audit by reconciling all online donations; and I was given the chance to sit in on program meetings and phone calls.

Throughout this process, I met my goal of determining if nonprofit work is actually something I could see myself doing. Getting behind-the-scenes exposure to processes made me more excited about possibly pursuing this field of work. More specifically, I really enjoyed and felt that I excelled at working in the development/communications departments at UFE, and I am now brainstorming ways to continue doing this type of work in the future.

My workspace at UFE!

Beyond meeting the goal I set for myself this summer, my internship provided me with so many unexpected lessons. For example, I learned that there is a lot more to social justice work than one can learn about in a classroom or newspaper. The work these organizations do impacts real people, with real stories, making it complicated, frustrating, and also incredibly important.

One thing that I learned about myself during this internship is how much I enjoy work that I genuinely care about. I have always prided myself on my work ethic, but I realized when I am passionate about a topic it does not feel like work.

UFE taught me how important it is to stay grounded while doing this type of work. It is really easy to distance yourself from it and see it as a chore, but it is so important to always remember what you are working for and who you are serving. Whenever there was a grounding moment – whether it was a tragic event in the news or a heartbreaking story told by someone in one of our workshops – I felt my energy, and the energy among the staff at UFE, increase drastically, which was a really interesting and beneficial environment to be in.

One of the biggest challenges I faced during my internship was not feeling like I had the authority to speak my opinions and ideas. Because I was new to the organization and the nonprofit world in general, I felt inhibited telling someone who had been working at UFE for 20 years how they should implement a program or what the best process might be to solve a conflict within the organization.

Thankfully, in a small nonprofit like UFE all opinions and ideas were valued. In fact, they were welcomed. As someone who was learning the processes for the first time, I was able to notice small details and bring a set of fresh eyes to the organization. Thus, a piece of advice I would have for someone pursuing an internship at UFE or another similar organization is that your ideas and opinions are just as valuable as those of someone who has been at the organization for a long time. In fact, one of the things I am most proud of is how my confidence rose along with my level of comfort by the end of my internship.

On one of the last days of my internship, I was given the opportunity to facilitate UFE’s biweekly staff meeting which meant creating an agenda, leading the actual meeting, and having the confidence to assert my authority to keep the staff on track or to interject my opinions about how I believed they should handle certain situations. At the beginning of my internship, I would have never believed that I could successfully lead a meeting for staff members who I felt had so much authority over me, but with the guidance, acceptance, and trust that UFE provided me, I was able to do it and I am very proud of and grateful for the opportunity.

I am incredibly grateful to everyone at UFE for providing me with such an enriching and educational summer, especially my supervisor who always gave me projects that fit my needs and interests while also allowing me to be helpful to the organization. Please check out their Facebook page and blog (as well as the rest of their website) for more information!

 

Leading a staff meeting on one of the last days of my internship! It was so fun to be given this challenge and use what UFE has taught me to successfully facilitate this meeting.eeds and interests while also allowing me to be helpful to the organization. Please check out their Facebook page and blog (as well as the rest of their website) for more information!

A Fulfilling Summer in the Office of Water

I can’t believe my internship with the EPA just wrapped up! My internship at the EPA Office of Water (OW) immersed me in water policy, and I now know so much more about water quality valuation, water scarcity, environmental justice, and public health. My office had a diversity of professionals, and I enjoyed learning about the overlap of water policy with economics, tribal affairs, climate change, and more. My internship offered me the opportunity to attend seminars throughout Washington D.C. and the EPA, learn more about the economics work at the EPA, and delve into meaningful research for the agency.

My office at the EPA was in the center of DC. I was sad to say goodbye, though I a may be back some day soon!
My office at the EPA was in the center of DC. I was sad to say goodbye to my co-workers, though maybe I will be back some day.

My 25-page report about water indicators to add to EJSCREEN, the agency’s environmental justice screening and mapping tool, was my largest contribution to the Office of Water. I proposed and researched ten water indicators related to environmental justice: water scarcity, flooding vulnerability, sea level rise, storm surge, safe drinking water, lead contaminated drinking water, nitrate contaminated drinking water, Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFOs) waste discharge sites, access to water recreation, and water infrastructure quality. I assessed the public health ramifications of each indicator, disparities in the indicator’s burden on the population, and the data quality of existing datasets for these indicators. Each of these water indicators could provide important information for communities and lead to community and agency action to mitigate these risks.

At the end of my internship, I had the opportunity to present my ideas to the EJSCREEN Steering Committee. I spoke to a group of representatives from different EPA offices and regions and highlighted the importance of considering water scarcity, flood vulnerability, and sea level rise as indicators in EJSCREEN. The presentation offered an excellent opportunity to practice my public speaking skills, and I feel confident that the committee will focus efforts on the water indicators related to climate change. Maybe the next version of EJSCREEN will feature these indicators!

I also compiled a report comparing EJSCREEN with another agency community screening tool called C-FERST, and I passed this report along to both the EJSCREEN and C-FERST teams. I wrote two policy memos for the Water Policy Staff after I attended two different seminars in D.C., and I was able to help a co-worker with an Office of Water Tribal Sharepoint. A few of these assignments stemmed from conversations with co-workers in the office, and this emphasized the importance of speaking up, asking questions, and taking initiative.

Special OW intern seminars were one of the highlights of my summer. All six interns met professionals throughout the Office of Water and had the opportunity to learn about OW work ranging from climate ready water utilities to drinking water in Flint, Michigan. We met the Deputy Assistant Administrator in OW, heard the EPA’s Deputy Administrator speak, and learned about how to apply for federal jobs through USAJOBS. Just these seminars alone were an incredible learning experience!

EPA Internship Certificate

Interning with the Office of Water was also an eye-opening experience into the workings of the EPA. On a water policy level, I learned how society often undervalues water. The EPA has an important role to communicate the expensive and intricate process of protecting valuable watersheds and treating and distributing our drinking water. On an agency level, I saw how natural science and economics work together to help protect the environment, as science must be translated into meaningful policy. My experiences illuminated the interdisciplinary nature of the environmental field and the need for our nation to better address water management and disparities in environmental burdens related to water. Overall, my internship was a fantastic learning experience, and I am thankful for the WOW Fellowship and my supervisor at the EPA for their support.

 

12 Weeks, 2 Exonerations: Finishing the Summer at CIC

I have completed my twelve weeks at the Chicago Innocence Center and it has been a truly enlightening summer. Coming into my internship, I had three goals: to apply sociological theories I learned to real-world situations, to gain experience in both legal and social work strategies to determine a graduate course of study, and to develop a stronger personal confidence in and outside of professional settings.

In weekly seminar meetings, I was able to bring my sociological lens to our brainstorm sessions. When looking over case materials, I was able to analyze information using my sociology background. I learned a lot about applying the study of social institutions and how they intersect in the real world. For my second goal, I amended it to allow me to investigate legal and journalism careers to see if I want to pursue these paths in graduate school. While I did love learning about investigative journalism and I think my experience at CIC made me a better writer, I am not interested in pursuing an advanced degree in journalism at this time. I am still open to the idea of attending law school or pursuing a master’s degree in social work in the future. In terms of my larger career goals, at CIC I noticed like being in an organizational role. I work best when I am a leader on a team and able to organize a project and create structure for others. I can see this translating into a role in non-profit management in the future.

The Summer 2016 interns with exonerees Mark Clements, Stanley Wrice, and Timmy Donald.
The Summer 2016 interns with exonerees Mark Clements, Stanley Wrice, and Timmy Donald.

My third goal was to gain more personal confidence. Working with CIC made me a more confident person. My supervisor, Pam Cytrynbaum, was a role model to me. She was strong, fierce, and did not apologize for herself. As someone who has struggled with insecurities in the past, it was so empowering to see a strong woman successfully running an entire organization. Pam taught me to stop apologizing for myself and always stand up for my opinions, even if it meant contradicting the boss. I feel much more confident entering the new school year and I know I will continue to thrive professionally as a strong woman with valuable ideas.

Myself and my fellow interns outside court after we witnessed an exoneration. All smiles!
Myself and my fellow interns outside court after we witnessed an exoneration. All smiles!

If I had one piece of advice to a future intern at CIC, I would let them know to have patience. Every case we work on takes time. Sometimes, when you think you reach a breakthrough, it might fall through or not pan out. It’s really hard to keep yourself motivated, especially when you realize the cases you’re working on have real people’s lives at stake. However, it is crucial to keep going, because your work could mean the difference in whether an exoneree is freed. If I was advising someone working in the field of innocence relief I would urge them to respect each exoneree. I would tell them to try not to treat anyone differently just because they were in prison. Even though exonerees live through a lifetime of pain while incarcerated, they are still people and want to be treated as such. They deserve all your respect and love as a human being.

This summer, I am most proud of my growth in confidence. I went from being very insecure in the workplace to freely sharing my ideas. In building a new website with some fellow interns, we were able to make new suggestions to our supervisors that were our own ideas. Many of these ideas made it on to the final site. Because I grew enough confidence to present an idea to my superiors, I have now made permanent, positive change for CIC as my ideas come to fruition on our new website. I will value the incredible skills I learned at CIC.

 

 

Ruby Macsai-Goren ’18

Social Justice WOW Fellow

A Cinderella Story: My Last Weeks at the Workers Justice Project

My last post regarding my summer involvement with the Workers Justice Project is not a happy one, but undeniably it serves as a learning experience. This summer, I worked as hard as possible to make a good impression, as well as, to create connections with the members I was working with. The job I was doing focused on fieldwork, which felt meaningful and important. And even though it was extremely demanding of my time and energy, and I worked very flexible and bizarre hours, I did not complain. A couple weeks before the end of my internship, my supervisor, Angel Sanchez, moved from Queens, NY to South Caroline looking for a change of scenery and environment. After he left, I was given a sort of odd vacation, since they did not know what to do with me. Therefore, for about a week or so I was given nothing to work on, and I just stayed home. It was very frustrating, since I decided to pursue this internship to do something significant and satisfying over the summer, but most times I felt I was not helpful or needed. During that period my grandmother became sick (she is a cancer survivor with other major health issues). I utilized my free time to tend to her, and help around the house. The director of WJP reached out to me, and after explaining my situation, I asked for some time (3 days max.) to help my grandmother before I went back to my duties in WJP. Unfortunately, she reached out to IWJ and I was terminated from my internship. I was heart broken that after all my hard work, and the time I put into this internship over the summer I was terminated over the situation I was facing. I felt I had to make a choice between helping my grandmother or continuing my work with WJP. I, of course, decided to be with my family.

http://workersjustice.org/2015/04/27/marching-for-the-right-to-a-safe-workplace-on-workers-memorial-day/

Even though, I feel the end of my internship was a failure and a disappointment, the exciting time I spend working with IWJ and WJP before then, was a rewarding and satisfactory experience. This summer overall, I had an opportunity to learn about the labor movement, and the impact still has on workers. Also, I learned about Day Labors and had a chance to work towards the betterment of their work environment together with them. I will never forget the conversations I had with numerous members, the places I visited together with my supervisor, or the conferences and meetings I was part of and I had the opportunity to voice my opinion and concerns. Undeniably, I would have preferred to end my internship in a positive note, but even though it did not, the experiences I lived this summer were more meaningful and satisfactory that any misunderstanding or disagreement I faced during my time with the Workers Justice Project. Therefore, I am grateful to WJP, IWJ, WOW and Mr. Bernstein for giving me the opportunity to have such a fulfilling summer.

Snapchat--2606521407787268142

Lisbeth Bueno ’17

End of internship at VocaliD

Interning at VocaliD was definitely more than I expected it to be, and I was able to achieve my learning goals. The summer between my penultimate and final year was the perfect time for this opportunity, and I’ve come out of it with a greater sense of clarity when it comes to career paths I can pursue after graduation. A huge part of this was my career-specific goal of exposing myself to programming and its role in linguistics and speech science. For the past couple years at Brandeis I’ve considered more and more the option of pursuing further education in computational linguistics, and have become more interested in topics related to the field. The central role of speech science and text-to-speech technology in VocaliD’s work resonated with this interest, and has been all the convincing I need that this is a viable industry to attempt to enter in the coming years.

To another student looking for an internship at VocaliD, I would say this: be prepared for a fast-paced, interdisciplinary environment, and get ready to work with people of all calibers from all sorts of backgrounds. On more than one occasion there were company advisors in the office – often for advertising – and every one of them wanted to hear the opinion of the interns. Rather than sit back and simply absorb knowledge from experienced professionals, we were allowed to engage with them and be taken just as seriously.

This sort of open-mindedness could be an industry thing, or, more probably, due to the nature of small start-ups. There is a sense of urgency to everything that reinforces the “team” environment, requiring different, multi-faceted tasks from us on a daily basis. For this reason it felt very demanding, in a good way. The advice for somebody doing work for a tech start-up like this would be essentially the same, but phrased differently: the work you do is important, just as important as everyone else’s. This was by no means a “fetch coffee for the office” internship.

Emma, a fellow intern, and Sam, a previous recipient of a VocaliD voice, out for pizza in downtown Belmont.

Working for a company with a social mission was generally very rewarding. The effect we were having on people’s lives was so tangible, especially so when Samantha, a previous recipient of a VocaliD voice, came in to visit us at the office. Being able to see the difference in her regard for her old, generic voice and her new VocaliD voice put it in perspective how necessary the product is.

Maeve, a young girl with cerebral palsy, is receiving one of the voices we worked on this summer. Her story was featured heavily on our Indiegogo campaign.

And while my work this summer will go into voices that will be finished months from now, I am still proud to have participated in their creation. There are also customers awaiting their VocaliD voice currently (like Maeve, pictured above), and getting to see them receive it in the future is something I’m very excited for.

-David Stiefel ’16

The Akshaya Patra Foundation in Bangalore, India—Post-Internship Reflection

After I return home from India, I see my life in a different way. Although I have traveled back to Boston twice from India within the same calendar year, I am finding that the most challenging part of my summer experience is in returning to my life in the US. After my summer in Bangalore, I am returning with not only a more developed understanding of the alarming barriers that separate many Indian youths from regularly attending government schools, but also an awareness that many of the ways in which I live my life in the US directly harm Indian citizens. My challenges are: How do I apply what I have learned to help repair a small piece of our often violently unfair, radically unequal world? How do I address the systematic devaluation of Indian lives, which is implicitly reflected in my consumption practices in the US?

I wouldn’t call this “culture shock”—at least not the way I often hear it spoken of. In fact, I experienced a heightened awareness of my race and class status, rather than a “blending” that others may experience during their time abroad. My advice to future interns doing internships abroad—or even domestically, if there is a significant difference in the concentration of power—is to consider the ethical implications of participating in a “voluntourist” capacity. There is certainly a way to do ethical, mutually beneficial work that challenges historical concentrations of power. But even more important than spending a summer abroad is making a commitment to living the vast majority of our day-to-day lives—which, for many of us, is in the United States—in a way that subverts and challenges the consumption habits, institutions, and mores that make up part of the foundation on which India’s poverty rests. I would certainly encourage other students to peruse an internship at The Akshaya Patra Foundation. I found it to be a wonderfully supportive environment and I was able to work on an issue that is deeply relevant to the wellbeing of our world. I also benefited from spending time abroad—in an environment that I found challenging. My internship, and my time in India, have taught me that acknowledging my responsibility and my role in perpetuating vast inequity in the distribution of global wealth is central to my ability to resist the grossly unfair consequences of that distribution.

The majority of my time at The Akshaya Patra Foundation was spent listening to the stories of Indian youths enrolled in government schools in which the Akshaya Patra mid-day meal is served. I wrote one narrative per child to document many of the stories that I heard. I feel my work was successful because I documented stories in the most fair and honest way that I was able to. Although I remain skeptical about the ethics of transnational “development”-oriented work, my experiences this summer have made me anything but indifferent to the suffering I witnessed. For that reason, I am committed to using my education and my privileges in service of dismantling the foundation of India’s poverty, which will necessarily discourage child slavery and improve access to education. This summer, I have learned about the importance of addressing both immediate needs, and the source of suffering. Indeed, it is through the recognition that, in our increasingly globalized world, the way that I live my life in the US has profound consequences for the people whose labor—and whose lives—are all too often dismissed and unseen.

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One of Akshaya Patra’s 24 centralized kitchens
Photo source: http://www.techsangam.com/wp33/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/apatra3.png

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Akshaya Patra vehicles about to deliver containers of food
Photo source: http://blog.akshayapatra.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/vehicles.jpg

 

Shane Weitzman ’16

Saying GoodBye to Cofradia and the Dominican Republic

As I am writing this post a nostalgic feeling consumes my body. What I learned and experienced exceeded my expectations and goals.  When applying to the World of Work Fellowship, I wrote about my desire to understand better the Afro-Dominican traditions as one of my main goals. I never imagined how immersed I was going to be in the process of learning about it.

Throughout the summer we had seven projects to work on, one of them was the “Escuela de Atabales” in the Romana. During that project we worked together with a Portador de Tradicion, a person in charge of preserving and continuing the traditions in the community, to inaugurate a school that teaches how to play different rhythms of Palos and Gaga as well as its history. It was the first time I visited the Romana. The specific place where the school was build is an impoverished community, which means that it has little or no space for investing in the youth people living there. Therefore, the Escuela de Atabales served as tool not only to pass information about history and tradition but also to organized the youth into something positive. When I first joined the organization I never imagined how impactful the projects I would be working on were to the target communities.

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After spending my summer working with Cofradia I understood that I want my work as an artist to reach beyond a museum or gallery space. I want to share my skills with communities that are underrepresented and with the help of others create spaces for healing and learning throughout different artistic practices. Many of the artists that I met during this summer share their skills with underprivileged people, especially young people. For instance, Camilo Rijo Fulcar who with a group of other musician started giving free music classes in the Conde. Although the lessons were open to everyone they focuzed more on the children who work in the area as boot cleaners. Eventually, this idea turned into an organization call Asoartca, https://www.facebook.com/pages/Asoartca/1595308404051068?pnref=lhc.  I found this very inspiring, as I saw the great impact it did on the children. In a system that makes childhood available to only those that can afford it, creating a space for learning, play and community is an essential for our future generation.  

If someone is interested in working with Fundacion Cultural Cofradia or in a field that requires the interaction with people from a range of social class and customs one has to be open and respectful towards people’s believes. You do not have to agree with everything you experience but you have to leave your pride outside the door. At the same time be ready to manage the frustration that comes with trying to reach out to government sites in charge of supporting the advancement of these communities. Other than that be ready to step out of your comfort zone, the Fundacion Cultural Cofradia wants you to learn, explore, and experience everything the the Afro-traditions in the Dominican Republic can offer.

What I am the most proud this summer was my willingness to challenge myself. I traveled to different parts of the country to collect information for the organization. In many instances I thought I was not ready for the job. Then I understood that there is not a special manual to do new things, you just have to bring your knowledge and an open heart and mind to make mistakes and learn from them.

  • Daniela Marquez 17

Traditions that Survive and Inspire

They invited you to dance merengue and eat mangú. Come, consume us, and believe that you are getting the full package. You will leave satisfy and ignorant because what was sold to you as our culture it is only the surface of the richness that exists in the Dominican Republic.

I am not talking about the beaches in Punta Cana but the Gagá of the Hermanos Guillén in Yamasá. A celebration in where the whole community gets together to commemorate the only black San Antonio de Padua. In here people dance, eat, talk and sing but the party really starts when the Gagá arrives.

Gagá, one of the many cultural traditions we enjoy thanks to the ever-going interaction and relationship between DR and Haiti. Just like the Gagá, there are a variety of rich traditions, carried by communities that despite past and current oppositions by the church and some government officials, it breathes in the hearts of those that still practice them.

Unfortunately, these traditions lack the support from governmental sites in charge of investing in the arts and culture of the country. Making it harder to get recognized and survive and get passed to future generations. Fundación Cultural Cofradía is a non-profit organization that promotes and preserves the afro-Dominicans and Dominico-Haitiana traditions in the Dominican Republic. They work closely between the members of the community in charge of keeping these traditions alive and the Ministerio de Cultura, to create programs, events, and workshops aim to maintain and ensure the passage of these traditions to future generations. At the same time these programs becomes a positive and productive outlet to express the youth in these communities.

My responsibilities vary depending the project I am working on, but generally it is a combination of office and fieldwork. As part of the office work I am in charge of keeping in track with the projects set up for the following months. This means researching and communicating with different companies that could facilitate materials for the workshops or schools, keep files organized and develop a new website and plan to get the organization more active in social media. Then, the field work is where I have the most fun. I get to take pictures to of the celebrations to keep it as records so the organization can have material to present to the Ministerio de Cultura for future projects. I travel to different parts of the country to interview people and gather information about their traditions and how we could provide support.

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It is important to point out that on my first week in the organization I was given a series of books and research about the places we would be going to recollect information. I am still flipping the pages and I am grateful to experience with every single part of my senses what I have been reading.

My goal this summer is to acquire a deeper understanding of the afro-Dominicans and Dominico-Haitiana traditions and communities. I want to learn the ways one can provide visibility to these communities and maintain the traditions alive. Furthermore, I want to expand my artistic knowledge and incorporate new elements to my art practice.

  • Daniela Marquez ’17

A Goodbye for Now to PFLAG National and Washington DC

Today marks a week since I left DC and finished my internship at PFLAG National. I could not have asked for a more fabulous, educational, all-inclusive, or enlightening experience during my time in Washington, DC. By my final week, I had done more than I had ever imagined: I completed 5 issues of our national policy newsletter Policy MattersI wrote the advocacy guide for our state Chapter Operations Manual as well as the national legislative update in our biannual newsletter PFLAGPole; I researched and tracked a host of new LGBTQ-related bills that were introduced into Congress; I engaged in an LGBTQ lobby day at Capitol Hill where I spoke with all of our Massachusetts legislators; and did countless other important things.  

The Lincoln Memorial at its finest.
The Lincoln Memorial at its finest.

The most monumental achievement I participated in however, was the introduction of the Equality Act into Congress on July 23rd. This unprecedented legislation would amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and other federal laws to add sexual orientation and gender identity protections to employment, public services and spaces, public education, fair housing, credit, and access to jury service. Not only did I have the opportunity to participate in the drafting of the bill, but I also was able to attend the very first Equality Act coalition meeting with all of the top LGBTQ advocacy organizations in the country. This was truly a magnificent, inspiring, and extraordinary honor, that I don’t think I will ever forget.

Good 'ol VP Joe Biden speaking at the Make Progress Summit
Good ‘ol VP Joe Biden speaking at the Make Progress Summit

Having done all this work, I more than met my original goals. I not only learned the ins and outs of LGBT advocacy and policy, but also received first-hand experience in the top priorities and current events of the LGBTQ advocacy community in DC. I also had the opportunity to be an active participant in the political process, as well as all of the research and preparatory work that goes into policy work behind-the-scenes. Finally, with aid from my wonderful and amazing supervisor Diego, I had the chance to meet and form important connections with influential figures in the field of LGBTQ and social justice advocacy from across the nation.

Our MA Senator Elizabeth Warren energizing the crowd with a passionate speech
Our MA Senator Elizabeth Warren energizing the crowd with a passionate speech

This internship along with my time in DC has only worked to clarify my career goals. During my time in the Capital, I fell head over heels in love with the city, its people, its history, its restaurants, and its policy and social justice focused atmosphere. I know now that when I graduate in May, DC is definitely the place to which I’m headed. Whether I end up working on Capitol Hill, in some federal agency or NGO, or in the private sector, I know I’ll be happy and fulfilled doing whatever I’m doing in DC.

For those who are interested in an internship in DC or at an LGBTQ non-profit like PFLAG National, I would say GO FOR IT! Having the chance to live and work at the epicenter of where policy is made is an amazing opportunity. Even if you don’t want to be there after graduation, having the ability to explore the depths of DC is a unique and truly illuminating experience. Plus, not to mention, they have incredible food.

-Aliya Bean ’16

Blog Post #3: Leaving SIF

Overall, my internship with the Social Innovation Forum was an amazing experience. I feel as though I met my learning goals. I aimed to leave the internship having built a professional network among the Boston area nonprofit field. There was no better place to achieve this than at SIF. I got to research many different social issues prevalent in the Boston area, and see the different approaches nonprofits take to solving those issues. I spent a lot of time of the phone with different nonprofit managers, discussing their approach to these social issues. As I did research and reviewed applications, I became familiar with the names of the major players in the nonprofit world.

Posing for an SIF social media campaign
Posing for an SIF social media campaign

I also learned so much about nonprofit management, common obstacles faced by nonprofits, sources of funding, staffing, and much more. The knowledge I gained was invaluable. I feel confident that I can apply my new skills to any future internship I may have, whether or not I am working in nonprofit management. I learned how to do expense reports, analyze statistics, improved my research skills, and more. These skills will definitely come in handy in the future.

Additionally, working full time was amazing preparation for post-college life. I have never worked full time before, and it taught me how to stay motivated in a long work week. Prior to this experience, I was nervous thinking about leaving school and beginning a full time career, but my time with SIF gave me a better idea of what to expect, and now the prospect of entering the workforce is much less daunting. This certainly fulfilled my goal of professional development.

I am very grateful that World of Work funded my internship, and made this experience possible for me. The internship opened so many doors for me when it came to personal growth, professional development, and building my network. Since my internship ended, I have kept in touch with my coworkers and recommended that other students apply for internships with SIF in the future. For someone interested in getting an internship in the nonprofit world, I would advise them to think about what sort of team they would like to work with. The majority of nonprofits are small organizations, so your team dynamic is a very defining part of a nonprofit internship. I am lucky to have worked with an incredible team at SIF. To future SIF interns, my advice is to dive right into the work: the SIF team will treat you like a full-time employee, so don’t be afraid to act like one by sharing your ideas and making your best effort!

 

Leaving SIF, I feel prepared and excited to take on new challenges. I am very proud of my ability to thrive in a fast-paced work environment, and I can’t wait for future jobs that can push me to succeed in the same way SIF did.

The SIF team and other participants at a program run by Inner City Weightlifting, one of our Social Innovators

 

 

Emma Farber ’16

Looking back on my time at Tip

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At an event for one of our clothing brands!

After an amazing summer of learning and working, I finished my internship at Tip Comunicación. Friday the 21st was my last day, and as I closed the door I felt a combination of pride, sadness, and excitement.

Pride, because I am so happy with all that I have accomplished this summer. I started my internship with the goal of learning more about the world of Public Relations and whether it was the field I wanted to pursue after graduation next year, and that goal was most certainly met. I am leaving Tip knowing that I want to work in communications after college. I am also proud of how far my writing skills have come. I am now more able to put myself in a brand’s shoes and write with their voice rather than my own. I have a much greater understanding of what Public Relations are and how they work.

Sadness, because I am going to miss going there every day. I learned so much from my coworkers and supervisors, and I wish I could continue to learn even more from them. I am so grateful for the time they put towards helping me grow, and it’s always sad leaving places where you’re treated with respect.

Excitement, because I know I will continue to grow within this field and that this experience was only the beginning of a long path. There is so much more for me to learn and I can’t wait to learn it!

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A beautiful Buenos Aires sunset on one of my days off

Anyone who would be interested in an internship at Tip should a) make sure they speak Spanish 100% fluently, and B) reach out to the organization and ask. To those interested in the world of PR in general: put yourselves out there! Tell everyone you know that you are looking to work in PR and would love an internship. You never know who could be able to help you. You should also go online, research the different agencies, and send out your resume to the ones that appeal to you the most. Join LinkedIn and contact Brandeis alumni.

I am now beginning my senior year, and I am very happy that I am able to bring everything I have learned this summer back to school. I know that having seen a little bit of the real world will enrich my classroom experience so much and allow me to make a more seamless transition into post-college life next year because of it.

I am incredibly grateful to everyone at Brandeis and the World of Work program for allowing me to do this internship and get this amazing experience! It is such a helpful and important fellowship, and just another way in which our university is helping us grow and succeed.

Mijal Tenenbaum, ’16

Farewell New Orleans: The End of my Summer Internship @ NOVAC

In mid-August, I left my temporary shotgun home in the Upper Ninth Ward after making videos and collecting footage on Downtown New Orleans. Since my last blog post, I attended several of NOVAC’s film workshops and networking events. One of my learning goals this summer was to meet independent documentary filmmakers. One of the people I met was Lily Keber, the director of Bayou Maharajah, at her workshop she co-taught with one of my supervisors, Biliana Grozanda (see photo below). Since they are both documentarians, they offered an Interview Techniques for Documentary workshop. The workshop was part of a larger course, the Documentary Production Project, that brings a group of indie filmmakers together to craft a documentary on a subject of their choice. I left this workshop knowing how to ask my future subjects questions to lead to a good story and I also learned how to prepare for an interview—research your subject, plan to meet them in a space conducive to dialogue, etc. bayouAfter taking this workshop, I felt comfortable interviewing subjects for my first video but I still felt I needed to work on my production and editing skills, which was another one of my learning goals this summer. I was assigned to a Virtuous Video assignment. For those that forgot, NOVAC’s Virtuous Video Program brings filmmakers and non-profit organizations together to produce videos to spread awareness about their cause. For my Virtuous Video assignment, I worked with Core Element Hands On STEM Camp, a summer camp for children and teachers in Jefferson and New Orleans Parish that focuses on increasing interest in science. I worked with an independent filmmaker and assisted him with sound. That project was a huge learning lesson; I messed up the sound on numerous occasions and I kept entering the frame. However, I now know how to act on set and how to properly operate sound equipment. I was also allowed to make the first rough cut of the video and that certainly aided my editing skills.

STEM_summer_camp_logo_FINALSince I received more experience, I started collecting footage for a short documentary that I am in the process of editing. I interviewed Eve Abrams, a writer that created her own audio-documentary called Along the St. Claude, for her experience with gentrification in the Bywater, Lower Ninth Ward, area. Then after I collected some footage of her, I interviewed a student at Clark Preparatory High School, a student from Tulane University, a native of New Orleans, and an artist that may be considered a gentrifier. Usually when people discuss gentrification, things become black and white: a group of people, usually young white people with money, comes into a space that is predominantly black and low-income. However, based on the interviews I conducted over the summer, I realized that the gentrification process crossed into different racial, class, and age groups. Plus, New Orleans is a port city, so different people have always entered New Orleans. Although New Orleans was segregated until the 1960s, I think New Orleanians were used to people from different backgrounds entering their city. Personally, I think people notice the different class groups entering different neighborhoods first, then I think the intersection between race and class becomes more apparent, especially since poverty is sometimes matched with the black experience in America.

True New OrleansI decided to take all of my footage and split it into multiple parts around a theme. My first video is a pair of people that were at Shotgun Cinema’s first film festival, True Orleans. True Orleans is a film festival dedicated to celebrating innovative non-fiction/documentary films made by New Orleans’ filmmakers. Aside from screenings, they also offered free panel discussions centered around non-fiction storytelling. When I was not filming the attendees for my project, I managed to sneak into a couple of the panel discussions. At True New Orleans, I asked a couple of people at the theater if they could describe gentrification in New Orleans in one word or what word would they associate with gentrification in New Orleans. I broke up their responses into two videos. You guys can watch the first one here!

KarenInternshipOverall, I think I meet all of my learning goals: I met some cool independent filmmakers and even a stop motion animator; I learned how to conduct interviews, which could help me with my sociology interviews and with my future documentary projects; I learned how to use some applications in the Adobe Creative Cloud; and I learned how to use basic video and audio equipment. Plus, I was in the same room as Ava Devarnay, so I definitely had the best summer ever. Thank for reading my summer blog!

Karen Seymour ’17

Social Justice WOW Fellow

Concluding at the New England Innocence Project

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        Suffolk University Law School             Our New Home is on the top floor!

After almost exactly seven months, Thursday, August 13rd concluded my tenure as intake intern and case assistant at the New England Innocence Project. The end of my internship signified a new chapter in not only my life, but in the history of the New England Innocence Project, as the organization moved into its new home at Suffolk University Law School. While leaving NEIP was difficult to say the least, I left having knowing that my experience with the organization was nothing short of life changing. I started as an intern back in January hoping to gain a greater appreciation of the law, while achieving a better understanding of what life is like working for a non-profit. What I received from NEIP was extensive knowledge of the legal profession, invaluable experience communicating with attorneys and clients, and a new direction for my future endeavors.

My lovely coworkers: Nick, Jamie, Angela, Catherine, and Eric.
My lovely coworkers: Nick, Jamie, Angela, Catherine, and Eric.

Entering my summer with NEIP, my goals were three pronged: 1) gain a more robust understanding of the criminal justice system; 2) acquire some of the required skills of an attorney; and 3) positively impact those who have witnessed the pain of wrongful convictions. By and large, I can honestly say that I have achieved my goals.

In an academic sense, I have learned a significant deal about the criminal justice system on the local, and national level primarily through the reading of trial transcripts, and working with trial and appellate attorneys on the state and federal level.

In a professional sense, while my goal of learning the necessary skills to be an effective attorney was lofty, I do believe I made progress towards that goal. Through NEIP, I learned how to more effective communicator by discussing legal matters with clients, co-workers, and attorneys on a daily basis. Additionally, I was given the chance to engage in legal writing, working on “Post-CRC” Memos that concisely summarize an applicant’s case in order for the organization to determine whether NEIP should choose to represent them. While I would’ve liked to receive further experience in legal writing, the nature of the NEIP organizational structure primarily delegated that task to the legal interns. Nonetheless, I can confidently say that as an intake intern, I received a unique opportunity to learn and grow from a legal environment that few others get the chance to be immersed in at such an early stage in my professional career.

Lastly, in a personal sense, I have provided support and consolation to those who have witnessed immense pain at the hands of wrongful convictions. I have worked with inmates and their families to guide them through our case process and ensure them that as an organization we are there for them. The gratitude that I have received from inmates –many of whom have wrongfully spent decades behind bars—has brought me satisfaction that has been thus far unparalleled in my life, and in turn, I am incredibly proud of the work I have done at NEIP.

As I turn towards the future, NEIP has undoubtedly solidified my interest in the law. While I entered this summer certain of a passion for legal advocacy, and a potential career in public interest law, NEIP has directed me towards an interest in criminal law, in particular, defending individuals without the means to appoint sufficient legal representation. Witnessing the plight of low-income individuals that often culminates in legal troubles has instilled within me a passion for aiding those of less fortunate means. While I may be uncertain as to where I may turn with the legal profession, I am now convinced that law is the proper path for me.

For any student looking to understand the dynamics of the criminal justice system, NEIP would make a great internship for you. At NEIP, interns get the opportunity to form connections with inmates, attorneys, and police departments, working in conjunction to remediate the inadequacies of the criminal justice system. At NEIP, real progress is not an abstract goal, but a tangible thing that can be measured. For those passionate about assisting the least fortunate members of our society, while ensuring that every individual is treated fairly under the law, NEIP would be an incredible organization to work for.

 

Daniel Jacobson ’16

My Final Blog Post

Since completing my internship at AEI, I have had some time to reflect upon my experiences, all I learned, and what my next steps may be. It is surreal to know that my time in DC this summer has come to a close, but I know that I will be back one day. I set out on this adventure to learn all I could, but I had no conception of the breadth of knowledge I would gain—knowledge that is applicable both personally and professionally. I went in with a series of goals, but my primary goal was to learn as much as possible. Therefore, for my final blog post, I’ve highlighted a few of these lessons I have learned. I hope that these lessons may serve as advice to future students planning on interning in this field, and I hope that by recording them, I, too, will remember to live by them.

Lesson 1: See the value in learning outside of your comfort zone.

What I mean by this is simple: When you have the chance to learn something, learn it. It can be totally unrelated to what you want to do, but take the chance and learn for a little while. Ultimately, regardless as to whether or not it ends up being relevant to your career path, it will be another skill in your proverbial tool belt.

For example, one of my co-workers this summer specialized in graphic design, and offered to teach me a few tricks. I accepted skeptically, letting her know that the extent of my knowledge in graphic design was limited to scribbles in Microsoft Paint. A few short weeks later, a vector I designed using Illustrator was featured on AEI’s social media platforms. I was hooked. I even began formatting simple memos in InDesign! Even if I never design another graphic, I am so happy I learned to do something outside of my conventional learning path.

The Washington Monument
The Washington Monument

 

Lesson 2: Make your coworkers’ jobs’ easier.

It is all well and good to be the first one in in the morning, and the last one out at night; however, none of that matters unless you are excelling. One of my fellow interns this summer who had just graduated from college left the office almost daily for job interviews. Although he rarely put in a full day of work, I could see from the way his department treated him that he was a well-respected and valued member of their team. This was because during the time he did spend in the office, the work he did was exceptional: He made his coworkers’ jobs’ easier.

 

I decided to incorporate this observation into my daily work pattern. For example, instead of just updating the website’s home page and sending it off to the editor, I would take the time to edit my work so that the editor had less to fix. Even small moments of effort, such as this one, can add up.

I applied this same logic to larger tasks, as well. For instance, I took the lead on creating AEI’s Instagram account. AEI had, for some time, considered creating an Instagram account; however, the process took more time than my co-workers had, and it required research to develop a solid marketing strategy. I offered to take on the project and within the month our Instagram account was up and running. In doing so, I was able to alleviate a good deal of stress within the department while AEI settled into the new platform.

Lesson 3: Figure out how to do the things that scare you.

This is not just a re-wording of the classic advice “take risks.” To me, figuring out how to do the things that scare you means to make what is scary into something manageable. Flip it around and do what you have to do.

For example, something I am not entirely comfortable with is DC networking events. The awkwardness of mingling is something that I feel will never leave me. I found myself faced with the necessity of figuring out how to make these events manageable. I realized I was most comfortable when I studied up on a ‘default topic’ for the night. This meant that I always had a topic of conversation to fall back upon when I was at a cringe-worthy loss for words (which was often). Usually my ‘default topic’ was some aspect of the host organization or perhaps a Supreme Court case; regardless, it worked like a charm every time.

All you really need to make something scary into something manageable is an understanding of what makes you feel more secure. Sometimes, this can even make the terrifying a little—dare I say it—fun!

 

These three tips represent my best practices and experiences from the summer.  Each of these lessons allowed me to do my best work, from creating an Instagram account to snagging the right business card. As long as I remember to learn outside of my comfort zone, make my coworkers’ jobs’ easier, and figure out how to do what scares me, I think I’ll be fine. I am proud of what I accomplished at AEI in terms of professional development, I am already looking forward to next summer!

 

Margot Grubert ’17

 

 

Summer has ended, but my work at he AGO has just begun!

Although the summer is ending, my internship is not! After the amazing experience I’ve had these last few weeks, I’m grateful, humbled and excited to be able to say that it is not yet over; I will be continuing my internship for the rest of this semester in conjunction with a Brandeis internship seminar.

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It seems it is not yet time to part with my intern badge!

While there is plenty to look forward to, it is crucial (not to mention enjoyable) to retrospectively analyze the crucial changes I have undergone by taking on the challenges that have accompanied this internship. These challenges, ranging from getting a taste of what it is like to be alone and away from home to forcing myself to gather my confidence and approach the inspiring lecturer who, within an hour, changed my outlook on my future career and built my character in a way I could not have foreseen. Looking back at my summer experience at the Criminal Bureau of the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office, I find myself to be an adult, a proud servant of the Commonwealth, and a fervent advocate of self-exploration via internships.

From among the main goals I outlined for myself at the beginning of my internship, I have truly surpassed the most important ones. I originally aspired to “mold myself into a meritorious and ‘civic-ly’ aware adult.” I could not have imagined the extent to which my dedication to civic engagement would solidify during my time in the AGO, but here I stand, a matured version of the person I was at the end of the school year, convinced that my career path would feel empty without some sort of community service which would allow me to benefit the society to which I belong. I hoped to “forge new connections,” and I am now fortunate enough to include a group of talented interns, law students, paralegals, lawyers, officers and financial investigators in my ever-growing network. I realized through my exploration of “the intricacies of my passion for law” that I am most interested in civil rights and anti-discrimination efforts within the context of the law and I know that the next steps I take towards my future will involve the study and promotion of diversification and acceptance. With all of these goals realized, I look forward to expanding my knowledge of myself and the legal world as I return to the office this semester and as I take on future internships.

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A pleasant intern lunch organized by a charismatic and involved lawyer at the Criminal Bureau (I’m the third person from the right!). I’m lucky enough to have these future lawyers in my career network.

https://www.ted.com/talks/verna_myers_how_to_overcome_our_biases_walk_boldly_toward_them?language=en – The AGO organized an event during which dozens of office members watched Vernā Myers’ inspirational TED talk about overcoming subconscious biases and then discussed the video to deepen our understanding of how it applies to us.

I am most proud of my work combating  human trafficking and my new interest in this field, which evolved from my involvement in the Human Trafficking Unit. My extensive involvement in the unit’s developing policy-implementation plan, which spanned almost the entirety of this internship, started with a request that I create a simple excel document and developed into an enriching and layered experience in the art of networking. The creation of the spreadsheet was an opportunity for me to aid the AGO’s Director of Human Trafficking Policy, Programs, and Education, who specialized in a field which I was eager to explore. My scrupulous efforts, paired with a genuine interest in the unique and kind woman I was helping, resulted in a rewarding networking connection which I now cherish. This woman mentored me by taking me to observe meetings with outside organizations, looking out for different events I could attend, and even asking me for input on how to move forward with the implementation of the policy I helped to create. I am both proud of and thankful for the working relationship I now have with her, and I look forward to collaborating with her in the coming months.

http://www.polarisproject.org – A wonderful anti-human trafficking organization which shares many of the same goals of the AGO’s Human Trafficking Division

http://www.polarisproject.org/storage/documents/hotelindustryfactsheet.pdf – a trusty reference sheet for the AGO’s Human Trafficking Division in its effort to increase human trafficking awareness in the Commonwealth

Thus, my advice to students interested in working in this office is to take this opportunity by the reins and make the most of the resources around them, be it the esteem of others, the unique events and presentations, the work experience, or just the boundless advice of the good, hardworking people of the AGO. In any internship context, including this one, my greatest piece of advice is to balance challenging oneself by stepping outside of one’s comfort zone with being conscious of oneself in one’s work-environment context. Branch out, but don’t seem too haughty; be confident but don’t forget the value of humility. While it is important to be sure of one’s merit, there is no disadvantage to asking and asking again to gain a complete understanding from those who have been doing this way longer than any intern. Remember that being memorable (in a good way) also requires being personable and receptive. This balance has helped me grow from this amazing opportunity in ways which, only three months ago, I did not believe to be possible. Though I am still perfecting this equilibrium and will continue fine-tuning it this semester in this familiar context, it has been my greatest ally and will continue to be in future classroom, recreational, and professional experiences.

Lilly Hecht ’18

Completing my Summer Internship at the Community Day Center of Waltham

My summer internship at the Community Day Center of Waltham has greatly helped me clarify my career interests. I knew that whatever job I did I would want to work with people, but at the same time recognized the many ways bigger-picture things get done through policy reform and research. I was willing to consider working in policy reform and research, if it was going to make a real difference.  However, after working at the Community Day Center of Waltham, I realized that working with people directly was something I want to do, whether it is in a position that provides therapy or social work.  I greatly enjoy direct service and would not want to give up. In an ideal world, I would like to be able to do some kind of work working with people while also conducting research or policy reform.

Me holding up the drawing one of my clients made for me.

Me holding up the drawing one of my clients made for me.

My work has also taught me a lot about myself. Because there is only one other staff member besides my supervisor and I, there were many opportunities for me to take leadership roles. As I became more comfortable with the population and they began to appreciate and respect me, I found myself taking increased initiative in the workplace. I was able to control the floor on my own, and found myself to be stronger and more confident with my capabilities to do my work now and in my future professional endeavors. I really stepped-up and surprised myself in with the initiative I took, which ended up creating a much more meaningful and enriching work experience.

For a student interested in an internship at my host organization as well as this industry/field, it is important to go into it with an open-mind and open-heart, wanting to help and having the drive to do what it takes to get the job done. Emotionally, working in this field can be both uplifting and draining, so it important to maintain a level-headed perspective on things, appreciate small successes.  Remind yourself that even your showing up to support this population is incredibly important, as you are supporting an incredibly marginalized population where in many cases, you are their only advocate and support system.

This summer I am most proud of the role I played in some big and many small successes guests achieved. My biggest accomplishment was one particular relationship I created with one of the guests. We mutually gained each other’s trust and worked together.  Because of the strong bond created, I went the extra-mile, driving him to apartment visits and interviews, calling his family and services as needed, filling out applications, and discussing his personal goings-on. By going the extra-mile and advocating for him, I was able to get him into an apartment. This was a big success that has set him up in a stable position, allowing for him to  focus on growth in other parts of his life.

Relevant articles:

Successes at the Community Day Center of Waltham

Addresses the Emotional Toll of Being a Social Worker

-Diana Langberg ’17

Reflecting on the summer

Wow, did summer fly by. I spent the last few days at ICAAP reflecting upon everything I had learned, both small and large. I feel as though, most important to my personal, career, and academic life, I fulfilled my goal of learning about childhood trauma and its implications on society. While I still have much more to learn, it’s a teaching that permeates into  how I view my classes, my relationships, and how I want to make a difference in the future. My academic goals guided my career goals significantly, as I now feel as though I have a better grasp of the path I want my career to take. While my vision for the future is far from solidified, I definitely feel as though I have a better understanding of what I am looking for in terms of work environment for the future. For starters, the work atmosphere at ICAAP is a great fit for my type of learning style. It revolved largely around autonomous work, and self-initiatives, which is perfect for me. When I am first assigned a task, I like to immerse myself in noise-cancelling headphones, and just be solitary in my understanding of the task. However, ICAAP also encourages collaboration and discussions, which helps provide a dynamic work environment that largely revolves around solitary work, but encourages mutuality. In future jobs, this is the balance I will look for to best fit my own learning style. My third goal is networking, which I partially fulfilled, but is definitely something I need to work on. Oftentimes I would become so immersed in a conversation with one person, that a room would clear out before I had a chance to follow up with additional people. I networked well within the ICAAP realm, however, wish that I had networked more extensively outside of our organization.

To any student looking to intern at ICAAP: Do it. Do it especially with the staff in the ECD realm. I feel so incredibly grateful to have been surrounded by such a strong and open group of women. If you are looking to intern in public health realms in general, beware that experiences vary quite dramatically within each organization. Even ICAAP, which is part of  a national organization, has drastically different work environments in each. When you are interviewing, make sure you know what the work environment will be like, whether they will give you fulfilling work, and whether they will challenge you. There are a lot of great articles that talk about how to assess if you will be satisfied in a job, like this one! Also, don’t be afraid to ask for feedback and advice.

My proudest moment of the summer was giving my final presentation to a group of 40 professionals introducing them to the realm of childhood trauma. My fellow intern and I were so unbelievably nervous, especially because we followed up one of the best public speakers I’ve ever heard. After we finished, we knew we did a great job, which was only reinforced by professionals we had met and our bosses.

Presenting at the Governor State University on childhood trauma
Presenting at Governor State University on childhood trauma

At the End of My Internship at GMRI

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GMRI, waterfront view

I am now done with my internship at the Gulf of Maine Research Institute and it is an entirely melancholy feeling. It was hard to leave a place that I had spent 40 hours a week at and even more time out of work thinking about. In looking backed, I feel extraordinarily privileged to have had this amazing experience and a great deal of that thanks and appreciation goes to the WOW grant program at the Hiatt Career Center. This experience certainly would have not been possible without them.

Over the course of my 9 weeks at GMRI, I do believe I met my learning goals I outlined months ago as I wrote my application. I learned a great deal about how to use the economic analysis techniques that I was taught in my economics courses at Brandeis to analyze real world data… I even picked up some new skills and programming techniques along the way thanks to the dedication of my supervisor. This internship also gave me the opportunity to experience what working as an environmental1Lobster-boat-with-traps research economist is really like. Throughout the summer, I also became better, little by little, at networking and putting myself out there.

Most importantly, this internship taught be more about myself than I think any course at college could because not only did it clarify for me what my academic interests are but it also taught me what kind of work I want to pursue in my post-Brandeis life. I still want to pursue a career in environmental economics, in Maine ideally, and I know now more than every that in order to be heard and listened to and respected, one must have a graduate degree. But I also learned I cannot be inside all of the time, even doing the things that I like. I need fieldwork; I need some time outside with the things and places I am trying to protect and help in order to maintain a real connection to what I am working on. It is easy to forget the big picture when you spend your days looking at computer screens.

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Students participating in Lab Venture

For future Brandeis students I would certainly recommend checking out the internship opportunities offered annually at the Gulf of Maine Research Institute. They not only offer positions in economics, but also in biology and community oriented positions. The people who work there are extremely talented and passionate about what they do. That truly is also the key to securing an internship at GMRI and at other research oriented institutions. Undergraduates tend to not have the research or resume experience that older candidates do, but if you are passionate about the work you want to do, undoubtedly you will find a way to do it.

To close, I must say again what a privilege it was to work at GMRI. I’ve come a long way since I was a 5th grader visiting as part of their educational Lab Venture Program. This summer I was able o help out with lobster and climate research that could have huge economic and environmental implications for my home state, and I am so proud to have helped out, at least in a small way.

  • Rebecca Mitchell ’16

Blog Post #3 – NARAL

One of the main goals I had for my summer internship experience was to enhance my communication skills. I was able to achieve this goal while evolving as a professional in ways that I could not anticipate before my internship began. When I originally set this goal, I assumed I would meet it by engaging with folks one on one to discuss NARAL’s work. I absolutely did communicate with people in this way, especially at events where NARAL hosted a table, such as the Boston Pride Parade and Suffolk University’s Menstrual Health Conference. Overtime, I did become more confident in representing the organization and its mission by talking to people individually and in smaller groups. However, another way in which I was able to bolster my communications skills was through my work as a member of the NARAL staff and intern team.

As I mentioned in my last blog post, my supervisor left the organization a few weeks after my internship started, which proved to be a difficult transition for my fellow interns and me.  I expressed concern about the transition to my interim supervisor and engaged in an honest dialogue about the environment that resulted from my initial supervisor’s departure. This conversation was a turning point for me, in both a professional and personal way, as I embraced the opportunity to advocate for myself and express my honest sentiments in a constructive manner.

In the past, I have had difficulty expressing or advocating for my needs, as it is more my nature to please others and shy away from disrupting the flow. However, I realized that if I did not advocate for myself in this situation, my internship experience would suffer. I had a positive dialogue with my temporary supervisor during our initial conversation, which resulted in her understanding and action.  My temporary supervisor enacted immediate changes and was sure to check-in with me periodically to keep the communication lines open and honest. This entire experience proved to be extremely rewarding since I stepped out of my comfort zone and went out on a limb to advocate for myself. I found my voice in a way that I did not know existed. Despite the brief period of disruption, this experience was valuable to my personal and professional growth.

For any students interested in interning with NARAL or another organization in the field of health care advocacy, I would advise them to ask as many questions as possible. The realm of politics and health care policy is filled with nuances and an overwhelming amount of information. The best way to become familiar with all of this information is by continuing to learn and ask questions. The staff members at NARAL have always happily answered my questions and have taken the time to thoroughly explain policies to me. The staff’s openness to inquiries contributes to the positive atmosphere of the office, which is something that I really appreciated about this internship.

(NARAL is currently looking to hire a graphic design intern, and put this image out!) Keep Calm

Overall, this was a fantastic summer, and I am so grateful to the WOW program for allowing me to have this experience.

Here is a picture of another NARAL intern dropping off petitions at the State House. Nate petition

 

For more on recent legislative hearings that included NARAL bills, check out this article!

https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2015/08/13/legislation-aims-protect-privacy-health-insurance-forms/HGvYA5Xip9SLXOK9IGRhzH/story.html

For more on the Joint Committee that heard our NARAL bill, look at this government site:

https://malegislature.gov/Committees/Joint/J11

 

A Bittersweet End to an Amazing Summer with the Omaha Farmers Market

It’s officially been a week since I finished my internship with the Omaha Farmers Market. While I am looking forward to returning to Brandeis, I will miss all of the people I worked with over the course of the last couple of months. I worked with people from a variety of different backgrounds, from Health Department workers to local farmers; the people I met this summer really expanded my horizons. Without the help of these people I would not have been able to accomplish the goals I set out for myself at the beginning of my internship.

First among those goals was my intention to improve myself academically and learn more about how local farmers impact their local economies. I set about accomplishing this goal by surveying market customers on-site at the market as well as through an alternative online survey. On these surveys I asked about the customer’s spending tendencies and some demographic information. I also gathered information from the market vendors about their experience with the Farmers Market. From the data I collected interviewing market customers and vendors I was able to generate a report using Market Umbrella’s Sticky Economic Evaluation Device. Annually the Omaha Farmers Market has an impact of over $23 million between its two locations. The results, while not unexpected, were certainly welcomed by the higher ups.

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Overview of the Aksarben Village market – Source: Me

This leads in to my career goal for the summer, which was to apply the knowledge I had gained at Brandeis in the real world. I worked with a couple of professors from the Economics Department at the University of Nebraska Omaha; they were helpful in organizing the Economic Impact Study and I was able to complete it on time with great results. I was able to use the economic knowledge I learned at Brandeis to produce a professional study that the Omaha Farmers Market will use when they are applying for grants.

My final and possibly most important goal was one I set for myself and that was to improve the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) at the Omaha Farmers Market. Originally, this was supposed to be just researching different methods to improve the program and apply them to the market. However, as projects often do, this grew to include more than just research papers, talking to other markets and SNAP. I spent many hours working to improve awareness of one of our smaller, lesser known markets. The Omaha Farmers Market works with the Charles Drew Health Center to put on a small market for six weeks during prime market season. This market is different because a majority of the transactions involve WIC checks. This program (Women, Infants, and Children) is a special supplemental nutrition program which provides federal grants for low income women and children. The vendors at this market do not really make a profit due to the structure of this particular supplement program, but they are committed to providing fresh, local produce to an area that does not typically have access to produce. In recent years, the attendance at this market has declined, which was most likely a result of lack of promotion. As part of my internship I went around to local churches and community centers, as well as most of the WIC clinics in Omaha. I created flyers for the various facilities to hand out to their clients to bring more awareness of the market at the Charles Drew Health Center. This small market even got attention from the local news station on opening day – Link. Also, as a result of my study, the Omaha Farmers Market extended their SNAP match program for an additional two months to benefit more users.

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The Office Building where I worked – Source: http://www.loopnet.com/Listing/45865/300-South-19th-Street-Omaha-NE/

I do not know if this position will be available in the near future, but I would recommend it to anyone interested in economics or even event management. It does involve a lot of early mornings on the weekends and a general knowledge of Supplemental Nutrition programs. It is a great position to learn how market vendors and people can come together and impact their local communities for the better. While there is still plenty to do at the Omaha Farmers Market my time is unfortunately over, I just hope the work I did will continue to benefit the Market for years to come.

 

-Luke Bredensteiner ’17

Social Justice WOW Recipient

On Leaving Project Harmony Israel: I could never forget you Oh Jerusalem

It is bittersweet to be leaving Project Harmony Israel, to be leaving Jerusalem, the children and staff I have come to know, this country. In many ways I have met my summer internship goals of developing language proficiency in Hebrew, developing my leadership and conflict resolution skills within a work setting, and making memories/forming personal relationships with those who are different from me and learn how to allow that alternative perspective to enlighten my own. However, meeting these goals came in largely different forms than I expected, and some of them evolved because of that. For instance, developing language proficiency in Hebrew became more centered on becoming proficient in certain conversational settings regarding art and food as well as a proficiency in deeper understanding the politics of language in Jerusalem. So, while I did not become more proficient in my Hebrew at large, I became very good at buying groceries, haggling for bargains, naming colors and explaining art projects, and most importantly I became aware of the politics of language (Arabic v. English v. Hebrew) in Jerusalem. Developing my leadership and conflict resolution skills within a work setting came from taking on an authoritarian position, delegating tasks, and creating a cohesive vision and then following through with it even when schedules had to be re-arranged and staffing changed. Part of developing my leadership and solving conflicts in the classroom also meant learning to strike a balance between having fun and maintaining clear boundaries. This balanced allowed for natural memory making because I was more focused on forming personal relationships rather than constantly having to prove my authority. Making memories and creating bonds with my campers and some volunteers for Project Harmony gave me a lot to think about regarding Palestinian rights, identity politics, and the need for A-political (or normalized) environments as complimentary spaces for youth in Israel. I learned from my conversations with campers as young as 10 and as old as 15 that contact is the first step towards recognition, which is the way towards relationships and, ultimately, respect.

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Project Harmony Israel’s Identity Flag sits behind Israel’s President Ruvi Rivlin at a press conference.

My internship with Project Harmony Israel has undoubtedly solidified my interest in working in Israel and for the betterment of the state through person-to-person interactions. I think it has also given me a deeper understanding of where my observational skills, leadership skills, and cross-cultural curiosity are best utilized. I certainly learned that I am more flexible than I imagined, that I can manage my time well and think of projects at the last minute, and that I am capable of both working alone and as a team to build a positive educational environment for both Jews and Arabs. I think this ties into what I am most proud of looking back on my work. I am so so proud of the children I came to know and the space I created with them. Together, we completed over ten projects, including an identity flag mural that was presented to Israel’s President Ruvi Rivlin.

 

I am also very proud to have been a part of an organization that encourages dialogue, and to have been a witness to the incredible kinds of conversations that occurred at this camp, including the sharing of other peace organizations and being present for a Jewish boy’s first time experiencing an integrated environment and making an Arab friend. There was actually mention of Ori’s experience in the Hand in Hand Newsletter, which you can read here. I will quote it briefly though,

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Campers Yarden and Basel carry the mural into President Revlon’s home.

“How is it that my kids don’t like Arabs? I’ve always taught them that we are all equal, but somehow my 11 year old thinks all Arabs are bad – how does that happen?

I sent Ori to Project Harmony this summer because I thought it would be good for him. He was scared at the beginning, but the staff at camp was warm and supportive, and he opened up and started playing sports with the other kids. After a few weeks in camp, he came home and told me: “You know what, Ima, you were right. My Arab friends are really cool, and I can learn from them, maybe they can come over?” That was everything for me. I know change doesn’t happen overnight, but this was a start. I told him that my granparents and my father spoke Arabic, and as an Iraqi Jew, the language is part of our heritage too. You can’t judge people by their religion or ethnicity. Being part of Hand in Hand is about really understanding and living the equality I believe in.”

This is a community that gives to each other and I am so proud and grateful to have been and to continue to be a part of its work.

-Risa Dunbar ’17

Reflection: An unforgettable time in Ecuador and working in Pablo Arturo Suarez Hospital

It has been an incredible time in Ecuador which makes this an even more difficult time saying good-bye to everyone at the hospital, friends I have made, and the country itself. The privilege I have had to learn, work, and observe the healthcare system is truly humbling and I feel so grateful to return back to the United States safe and healthy.

I walked int11931685_10206815787186424_485108242_no my internship at Hospital Pablo Arturo Suarez pretty unsure of what to expect. Luckily, I realized I had a great amount of freedom and many opportunities to converse with healthcare professionals and patients everyday while performing my expected duties. A pretty big goal this summer was to learn Spanish medical terminology because I personally find it critical to be able to communicate effectively in another language as a doctor in our healthcare system. I found that over the course of the summer my knowledge expanded exponentially as I could keep conversations which conveyed medical information with patients.

Another goal which I accomplished which was inspired by the class called American Healthcare at Brandeis was to observe and compare and contrast the different health care systems. Keeping this goal in mind really helped me shape the conversations I had with my mentors and doctors at the hospital. I also learned a lot about how culture differences can really impact medical differences such as in the difference in privacy practices in Ecuador (which is very loose) compared to those of America (more strict). Although there were many differences that raised a red flag, the healthcare system was incredibly effective and is catching up to the west every day. As well, the cost of medical care is incomparably cheaper. If you go to this link, you can read how much cheaper it is to get basic procedures done which changes the quality of living you can have.

This experience has certainly helped me reaffirm by desire to pursue medicine as a career. Even more than reaffirm this passion, it has made me realize the privilege I have had growing up in the States and the great healthcare I’ve been able to receive. I realize more each day how important it is to give to those who don’t have access to healthcare the agency because of the tremendous impacts it can have on a persons quality of life. I know in the future I want to purse nonprofit/ volunteer opportunities here in America or other places in the world where this is a severe problem. By doing this, I know I want to expand my knowledge in public health and really focus on preventative/ holistic measures as mean of solution.

Mitad del Mundo--or the equator!
Mitad del Mundo–or the equator!

I would recommend anyone with an open mind, a passion for the medical field, and an ability to be flexible to volunteer at this hospital in Ecuador. Many times in order to get a fulfilled day it was up to me to take initiative and engage. A lot of succeeding and feeling accomplished each day came from a personal motivation to make the most of it. A personal goal/ reason for coming to Ecuador was to explore my own heritage and culture. I am half hispanic and immersing myself in Spanish and Latin culture was really wonderful for me to self-identify with. The ability to challenge myself with spending a summer in an unknown country and handle different mishaps along the way is by far what I am most proud of. As a whole, I would recommend anyone to travel and explore the country Ecuador–and even according to NBC News, it is possibly the best place to retire!

– Paulina Kuzmin ’17

After the End: My Thoughts Post-O’Neill

I ended my internship at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center about two weeks ago. Since then, I’ve had plenty of time to reflect on what I’ve learned about myself as a student, artist, and collaborator. I have a clearer idea of what I am capable of doing and what I actually want to do in the theater industry. For example, this internship reaffirmed my interest in directing and confirmed that I am not interested in acting. But it also made me think more seriously about theater administration, dramaturgy, producing, and theater education as possible career paths. My experience at the O’Neill taught me that, if I continue to work hard and educate myself, I’m capable of more than I originally thought.

The O'Neill logo projected on the Gala tent earlier this summer.
The O’Neill logo projected on the Gala tent earlier this summer.

For the immediate future, I know I will use the skills I’ve learned here to improve my work at Brandeis. The deeper understanding I’ve gained about the structure of musicals and plays will inform how I direct my thesis production this fall. I will also use my knowledge of professional theater productions to enhance my classwork. The administration skills I gained will affect my work as an Undergraduate Departmental Representative and Senior Interviewer in the Office of Admissions. Once I graduate, I am considering returning to the O’Neill as a worker or student. I also will be in contact with the friends and professional connects I made this summer. They are not only great resources for future work, but also help me keep up with what theater is going on across the country.

I would recommend my internship to anyone who is seriously considering a career in the theater industry, specifically those who are interested in the development of new work. The O’Neill looks for people who are hard working, self-starters, and kindhearted. The O’Neill is located in a small town away from other theaters. Many of the workers live on campus. The staff and interns get to know each other and are all an integral part of what makes the theater run. They must be willing to put in the work to make things go smoothly while simultaneously sustaining a positive working and living environment.

Me visiting the Mystic Seaport, 20 minutes away from the O'Neill.
Me visiting Mystic Seaport, located about 20 minutes away from the O’Neill.

Experiencing what the day-to-day workplace was like in such a competitive and fast-paced industry was reassuring. It can certainly be stressful and exhausting, but with the right support, it is an absolutely inspiring place to be. The works of theater kept me excited about going to work—even at 8 AM, even after a 14-hour workday. I realized that my experiences at Brandeis prepared me to take on long days with many tasks. I am most proud of my ability to focus and to know the appropriate times to speak up or step back. The most valuable thing I learned this summer, however, is that I am excited to get into the working world, not scared. It has reassured me that I can find a place in the theater community and that I am ready to get to work.

– Rachel Liff ’16

ERG: A Reflection

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Three months ago, I began my internship at Eastern Research Group, an environmental consulting company in Lexington, MA.  During my time at ERG, I gained an inside look into environmental consulting work and explored a range of different projects. When I left, I left with a greater understanding of the work, feeling more comfortable being in a professional setting, and having a stronger sense of what role I hope to fill in the future.

I initially came at ERG to learn about the breadth of environmental consulting work, the collaborations between different sectors on large-scale environmental projects, and to see it all in action. I wanted to learn about the various applications, scientific and technological, being used in current environmental initiatives. As an intern, I worked on projects ranging from developing marketing flyers to researching social science. To my surprise, I frequently found myself working in Excel for different purposes. My supervisors also gave me the opportunity to explore a similar program, Access, as well. I learned more about these programs’ various uses and applications – from organizational to mathematical – in this field.

I have always envisioned pursuing a career working towards a more sustainable future, and that has not changed at all. After seeing the different recent and ongoing environmental services and projects at ERG, I feel optimistic and energized about working in this industry. This experience has given me more motivation to attend graduate school as well. When it comes to the nuances of workplace preferences, my experience at ERG reinforced that I enjoy a degree of variability in the workplace and working on a continuum of changing, project-based tasks.  As I mentioned previously, this experience also piqued my interest in learning more about Excel and Access applications, so this is something I plan to explore further.

I highly recommend this type of internship to students who are interested in working in climate change issues and who are studying social science or STEM fields who want hands-on experience with applications in ongoing environmental conservation and climate change adaptation efforts. At ERG, there are engineers, social scientists, economists and many more, collaborating on projects. You will witness the importance of teamwork dynamics as well as the unconventional project-based format of environmental consulting. As I was telling my supervisors, it’s certainly not your 9-to-5 job! You’ll learn about the capabilities and technologies we have to address climate change issues, and you will brush up on the environmental jargon that you don’t learn from taking classes. For students interested in environmental consulting, I recommend exploring the services that ERG offers to get an idea of what roles exist that you can see yourself filling, taking social science or STEM-related courses to lay a groundwork for the type of work you may be exposed to, gaining research experience, and possibly pursuing a post-graduate degree as well.

I am fortunate to have had this fulfilling learning experience at ERG, which I owe to the support of my wonderful ERG supervisors, the WOW program and Hiatt staff. This summer, I am proud of being able to work independently, to approach unfamiliar tasks, and to know to be proactive about asking questions and reaching out for assistance when necessary. I am happy that my work supported a company that supports climate change efforts for a better future. I really appreciated learning about how government, nonprofit and private sectors as well as communities can communicate and work on environmental projects. To me it shows just how wide and interdisciplinary the cause is and that there are so many ways to be a part of it.

An example of a recent project at ERG: ERG supported the EPA in developing their Report on the Environment (ROE) website.

Dora Chi, 16

Wrapping up at the Indianapolis Woker Justice Center

After completing my internship at the Indianapolis Worker Justice Center (IWJC) I learned a lot about the labor movement and some more about what it means to organize both in unions and in other labor organizations. I wish I were able to take a more active role in the organizing efforts, but it was difficult to find a place in an organization without staff, especially because they are still figuring out the exact tactics they want to pursue themselves.

However, I was interested in the work that I was able to do. I know that I want to work for an organization with the goals of activism and organizing, trying to assist people in their quest for justice rather then helping them and seeing themselves as the savior of others. However, I am not sure if labor is the right direction for me, it is very important work but I am not sure if it’s my passion.

The Interfaith Worker Justice internship program can be very good, and I heard from interns that went to other affiliate organizations and had a great time. It was challenging working at an organization that was not staffed. If any students end up interning for an organization that does not have any staff, make sure that your expectations and the site’s expectations are both clear from the onset. I did not do that and I think it was a mistake. I would tell students interested in working in the labor movement to pay attention to the inter-organizational and union politics. I found it very interesting to see how groups that are trying to achieve the same things (or at least claiming to) are not necessarily able to because they are focused on other things.

Me and 2 other IWJ interns at the debriefing in Chicago
Me and 2 other IWJ interns at the debriefing in Chicago

I am most proud of being able to contribute to the organization even though I had very little structure. I am also proud of the religious ally training that I created and led. It was challenging to create something independently, but I was able to facilitate a conversation about different religions and the importance of understanding and respecting other peoples’ practices when working together. We had a conversation that would probably not have occurred in a different setting, and those of us who attended all enjoyed it and learned something that evening.

The beautiful view of Indianapolis very close to the Worker Justice Center
The beautiful view of Indianapolis very close to the Worker Justice Center

– Tamar Lyssy ’17

My final days at the Alliance for Justice

I cannot believe my summer in Washington, D.C. at the Alliance for Justice is over. It went by so unbelievably quickly! I could not have asked for a more incredible experience. I learned so much, primarily due to the accepting atmosphere and the constant encouragement of my mentors. My co-interns were equally wonderful–passionate, driven and intelligent. I was also able to make a number of connections outside of my organization through networking events and in dealing with them on behalf of AFJ.

I spent my last several days at the Alliance for Justice assisting with a transition in staff. This work included compiling instructions for everyday tasks and ensuring everything that needed to be completed was, in fact, completed.

I also had the opportunity to compile strategies for reaching an expanded number of target audiences for our upcoming campaign. I focused on organization outreach and social media. I discussed how to focus the issues in a way that personalizes the campaign for a number of diverse audiences, the potential obstacles in reaching these audiences and how to overcome these obstacles. The campaign will focus on Harris v. Quinn and the upcoming Friedrichs case as an angle to discuss workers’ rights, and the importance of allowing unions to organize. I am excited to see their short film when it is finally released, and hope to continue my involvement with the Alliance for Justice. It is a truly amazing organization that does vastly important work. If you are not familiar with the Alliance for Justice, I urge you to visit their website to learn more.

If you want to get a glimpse at what the AFJ stands for, take this quiz: “Who Said It: Justice Scalia or a right-wing extremist?” Feel free to share it on social media! This is one of AFJ’s posts that has gained a lot of traction in the last several weeks.

My final week at AFJ was not without some fun and getting my last hoorah in D.C. I had the opportunity to attend the Beach Exhibition at the National Buildings Museum. The ball pit was difficult to maneuver through, but fun nonetheless!

Beach Exhibition Marissa Ditkowsky
National Buildings Museum Beach Exhibition

I was also able to attend a SlutWalk. These walks focus on the idea that it is never the fault of a sexual assault survivor, nor does clothing choice does not indicate consent. It was an incredibly empowering experience, and I had the opportunity to meet a lot of strong individuals–men and women alike–who are survivors or stand with survivors of sexual assault.

Marissa Ditkowsky
SlutWalk D.C. Marissa Ditkowsky

 

This summer definitely helped me to solidify my passions and understand what I want to do and where I want to be in the future. I wish everyone that I worked with at the Alliance for Justice the best of luck in their future endeavors, and thank them again for their patience and encouragement. I hope to see AFJ continue to do what it does best in the future.

– Marissa Ditkowsky ’16

A Sneak Peek into the Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless, Brought to you by Max Justice Parish: Part 3, The Intersection of Big Data & Politics

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I am sitting in my cubicle. It’s hot. The air conditioner is on very low because certain un-named colleagues like to keep it that way. I bring a small fan to the office, positioning it right next to my face, setting it on high to take full advantage of its gift of cool air. Today it is the only thing that keeps me awake. It’s 1pm and I already have that “2:30pm” feeling. But I am lucky – I have a good task to match my afternoon drowsiness. My supervisor needs me to compile a list of zip codes that comprise each Massachusetts legislator’s district, in addition to researching how many participants of the state’s Emergency Aid to the Elderly, Disabled, and Children (EAEDC) program there were in each district in 2013. It’s a good task to have at the moment, because it only requires repetition by calling many numbers asking for the same information. The task is not as simple as conducting a quick google search; only the legislative offices have access to the precise zip codes of each district, and I need to dig deep into the computer system’s files before I discover a record of EAEDC participants. I spend the day calling approximately 50 offices. Most aides that I talk to can recite the zip codes off the top of their heads, but some put me in hold for 20 minutes (I enjoy the State House’s on-hold music so it wasn’t a bad experience by any means), a few scold me for wasting their time, and two offices could not identify which Boston zip codes their districts occupy. Such is life working in politics. I enjoy it.

I spend most of my day collecting this data. A lot of people would find this project to be menial and only that. But you’ve likely heard the following statement over-and-over again somewhere recently: we live in an era of big data. What makes this era so exciting, you ask? Put simply, we use data to make better, more impactful decisions. For this particular project, gathering these zip codes and piecing them together with the number of postcards we send to each district (postcards being a classic advocacy tool used to empower the public to communicate with their legislators). This information allows us to best choose which zip codes we need to dedicate more energy and resources to in order to enhance the likelihood that our policy campaigns are successful. This prospect may not seem all too exciting, especially when making call after call to gather data. But it is meaningful, and I do appreciate it.

I truly care about addressing homelessness. Facebook friends of mine may even have the perception that it is “my issue,” or “THE” issue that I am passionate about. I can’t blame them. But do not be fooled; I care very much for addressing sexual violence, ridding our culture of the patriarchy, eliminating white supremacy, pursuing environmental justice, etc., in addition to addressing homelessness. I want more. I want to address as many topics of injustice as I can. This is precisely why I have made it a career goal of mine to help progressive lawmakers get elected to office so that they can address the breadth of these issues. Not everyone gets to be the next President of the United States, or the next Governor of Massachusetts; not everyone gets to be the Executive Director of a nonprofit agency or the Chief Lobbyist; hard work is required of a support system to ensure that these positions are attained and are successful at what they seek to accomplish. I want to be a part of that process, and I want to take advantage of voter data to do it.

My internship at the Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless was great because I was given the opportunity to fulfill meaningful responsibilities while learning a ton about careers in advocacy, what it takes to organize a successful advocacy campaign, and how to manage relationships with lawmakers. As someone who has completed unrewarding and menial internships in the past, I recommend interning at the Coalition. It is the sort of organization where you can step right in and make as much of an impact as you choose to; where you can dedicate as much time as you wish and receive a commensurate amount of growth and learning in return. If I were to re-do my first few months at the Coalition, I would work more proactively on new projects and find ways to make an impact on my own instead of solely relying on the instructions from my supervisors. The truth is that they are too busy, as most internship supervisors likely are, to always be supervising. If you have the time, it may be beneficial for you to show initiative and work on a project of your own, in addition to working on what you are assigned, in order to gain the most out of your experience and maximize the support that you provide to the organization that you intern for. The Coalition offers the sort of welcoming environment that lends an ear to these projects and new ideas coming from interns. That is why I tout it so highly.

If you are interested in learning more about the Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless, careers in advocacy, topics of homelessness, or my own experience interning, please feel free to reach out to me via e-mail, shpilman@brandeis.edu.

Max Parish, ’16

Last Week at the Brigham

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After three seemingly long months flew by, I have finally concluded my internship at the Hoffmeister Lab at Brigham Women’s Hospital/Harvard Medical School. Looking back to when I first began, I see that I reached many of the goals I began my internship with. Besides my PI, I networked with my fellow lab members and other interns and researchers from neighboring labs. I also walked out of here with way more biology and biomedical techniques in my toolbox than I had when I first started and in fuller control over my experiments.

However, I am most proud of becoming more involved in lab meetings. Before, most of the talks went in one ear and right out the other, but at the end, I could follow along and even give input in editing conference power points and papers. More importantly, these two to four hour long meetings allowed me to observe lab politics and see how doctorates and post-docs fund themselves, mainly through writing and applying for grants such as the Pathway to Independence Award. I also saw how papers are published from start to finish. Data is first collected, which is then analyzed and gone over by the PI and lab team. The paper is then written, submitted, reviewed, edited, and then finally published in journals such as Nature and Blood. While the process of obtaining data and being published is a long process, it is rewarding and well worth the trials and errors.

For any student interested in doing an internship at a lab to learn more about scientific research or this career path, do not hesitate to shoot the PI an email. Especially with labs who accepted interns before, many mentors welcome students desiring to gain experience. When finally working in a lab, while experiments may get repetitive, never hesitate to inquire or ask for clarification to understand why you’re culturing these mice cells or running a Western blot. The researchers there will understand that you haven’t reached their level of specialization yet and enjoy seeing students take initiative and think beyond the box. Also, ALWAYS keep a lab notebook to take notes on the protocols shown to you, the experiments you’ve done, and the results you’ve obtained.

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My lab notebook containing all my protocols, data, and results.

Most importantly, take the opportunity to ask other scientists or lab techs about their goals and why they chose their career paths. You’ll find that everyone has a different backstory. My PI actually got into an industrial design school before going to medical school to be a pediatrician, ultimately ending up as a researcher and associate professor devoted to glycobiology. By talking to my fellow colleagues at the Hoffmeister Lab, I’ve realized that while science does interest me, I still feel more compelled to work with patients. Although, I wouldn’t mind working as a lab tech for two years before going to medical school and doing part time research in the future. However, I will definitely follow the advice my PI gave me on my last day, which is to always keep an open mind and pursue your interests and heart no matter where you end up, despite how cliche it may sound.

Overall, I am extremely grateful for the time I spent at the Hoffmeister Lab and look forward to the upcoming school year. I’m sure all the skills I’ve learned and invaluable advice given to me by my mentors will benefit me whether in the classroom or in whatever career I decide to pursue after I graduate!

Vivian Liu, ’17

 

Wrapping Up the Summer at UFE

I completed my internship at United for a Fair Economy (UFE) today. It’s hard to believe the summer is already over. I learned a lot from this internship and I’m proud of the work that I did.

The project I most enjoyed was interviewing and writing a blog post about another intern, Shirley Pryce. Shirley is the president of the Jamaica Household Workers’ Association which advocates for domestic workers’ rights. Against all odds, Shirley established this organization and is doing essential work. She told me how her time at UFE made her think about organizing in a different way and about her plans to share her insights back home. It was challenging to condense Shirley’s powerful story into a blog post that was both concise and engaging. In the end, this blog post was the first way I saw my writing skills that I learned in school be effective in the real world.

Furthermore, the way Shirley talked about UFE and how meaningful her experience here was made me think about my own. My internship has unquestionably influenced my beliefs about inequality and social justice. I’ve been exposed to striking numbers showing the income gap, racial wealth gap, and so much more in the U.S. One of my coworkers told me that, although everyone has a different analysis of these numbers and different ideas of what to do to change them, the numbers are still the same. Hearing my coworkers, politicians, and even my friends debate policy and inequality and talk about how to fix it has motivated me to work for change as well. I am not yet sure whose, if anyone’s, solutions I agree with yet, but my internship at UFE has truly made me question our country’s current unfairness. Now, the idea of social justice seems much more complex. I know that as I learn more and gain more experience, my understanding of fairness and responsibility will continue to be challenged and grow more intricate.

Suzanna, my supervisor, and I on my last day.
Suzanna, my supervisor, and I on my last day.

My last project this summer was to write a Letter of Inquiry to a foundation for a project grant. I learned what language to use in grant writing and how it is different from writing to an individual donor. The biggest challenge was to present UFE’s work in a way that fits with the foundation’s guidelines. In general this summer, I had the opportunity to build my writing skills outside the classroom. I gained experience being more concise, getting my point across and connecting with my audience, all of which are important skills that will be useful in classes and in future careers.

Overall, I learned a lot about the working world and being in an office every day. UFE is a small organization, so I got to be a part of a team of people constantly working together. Everyone has the same goal, but often different opinions about how to achieve it. I saw what it means to really talk through ideas and share insights. As a part of this team, I experienced how important it is to ask questions, communicate effectively, and be on top of what needs to get done. Being in the development office, I also learned a lot about how nonprofits fundraise and then have to decide how to best spend the money to make the biggest impact.

If I were to give another student advice about working at my internship, it would be that everyone is working towards the same mission. Of course, people sometimes have opposing suggestions and opinions. But, in the end, everyone wants a better, fairer place to live.

Na Wè Pita! Empowerment through Education Camp: The return to the States

Bon jou!  As I am writing this blog I am preparing myself to return to the States. I most definitely reached the goals that I have set for myself. I am able to reflect on them with the blogs I’ve written for the WOW Social Justice website as well as the ETE Camp blog website. The goals that I made were very broad and vague because this is my first time being involved with something like this, so essentially my goal was to learn as much as I could. I learned a lot about the importance of having efficient teaching skills and financial literacy. Ideas of cultural relativism were things that I learned about in school that gave me a mindset to truly appreciate my environment. Although my family is from the Caribbean and South America,  Haiti is different because it is the poorest nation on this side of the world. It suffered from extreme political corruption that has lend to the poor maintenance of both the country and the people, but it has a history of being the first liberated country in the Caribbean. It has been heart wrenching to move through the shanty towns and see the one bedroom homes made of dirt and aluminum with an exceptional view; a view that you know someone from your home would pay millions of dollars to have. I have never had such a clear visual of the Have’s and the Have Not’s than when I move throughout cities in Haiti. The levels of classism that exist are so different from the ones I am all too familiar with living in Brooklyn, New York. My goals have only changed in a more immediate sense because I am now aware of the importance of educating myself more about the politics and culture of the developing nations that I aim to work in and their interactions with the developed world, from the colonizing and abusive history, to the recent reparations and aids distributed.

Here is the ETE Camp staff for the summer of 2015
Here is the ETE Camp staff for the summer of 2015

 

I’ve learned so much about myself working for Empowerment through Education Camp this summer. My knowledge of Haiti’s history and cultural evolution has expanded tremendously, as well. I know a lot of Kreyol and French now, which is exciting. I have developed a confidence in myself that I thought I had already, but I realized there is a different sense of self-assurance a person has when they are in a familiar circumstance than an unfamiliar one. Although I worked in Italy last summer, my role was more of an assistant or junior counselor than a solitary facilitator and I was equipped with 2 years of having studied the language. I am extremely proud of myself for keeping up, which was impressive to my peers who know the languages of Haiti, and also pushing myself to find that sense of self-assuredness that can propel myself forward to one day become a leader in public and global health forums.

Here I’ve provided a link to The Haitian Internet Newsletter to give readers the opportunity to look into Haitian news written by their own and a link to read some more updates about how the program went at ETE Camp Blog.

I would advise anyone interested in an internship working with Empowerment through Education Camp to be either very open-minded or very aware of what your limits are, or both. The evident displays of poverty, corruption, malnutrition, and bare existence could be very troubling to see and become acclimated to for a month. On the other hand however, the fun, joy, beauty, and serenity that can be found in a place like Hinche, Haiti can very much outweigh the negatives. I personally have seen how the luxuries of running water, constant electricity, internet access, and air conditioning are things that I can essentially live without; but not everyone is like that, which is okay. Any job in fields of public health and human rights can be emotionally and physically taxing in a way that it is better to know if you can handle before you start something rather than after. The purpose of these careers are to be helpful to which ever community you are in or working with, so the only way to be able to do that is to give them your all. Passion and drive are important elements to becoming a leader in this field because seeing and knowing of the injustices are enough for you to help make things better in any way you can.

The beautiful faces that I have had the privilege of seeing for the last few weeks. Not only have I been able to spread my knowledge, but I have been able to learn so much about myself from them as well. Thank you timoun (children)!
The beautiful faces that I have had the privilege of seeing for the last few weeks. Not only have I been able to spread my knowledge, but I have been able to learn so much about myself from them as well. Thank you timoun (children)!

 

I am most proud of my Polaroid Self-Esteem Project. I gave every student a small journal, a pen, and a polaroid of themselves to promote self confidence, self-expression, and positive body image. The students loved getting their photos taken and having an immediate copy to put in their journals. I held this project around week two and they learned the vocabulary words mentioned and were told to bring their journals every day. There were a few prompt questions to guide them in using the journal and by the end of the camp the journals were filled with aspirations of careers, goals for self-improvement, positive personality traits lists, songs, drawings, raps, stories, etc. My project was a huge success and for that I am extremely proud! Au revoir!

Zari Havercome ’16

It is unbelievably hard to say goodbye to these incredible kids. I will miss their humor, excitement, and hopefulness. It has been an honor to know you.
It is unbelievably hard to say goodbye to these incredible kids. I will miss their humor, excitement, and hopefulness. It has been an honor to know you.

Reflecting on my summer at NCL

As I sit at home watching Netflix and packing for Brandeis, I find myself missing the fast-paced DC lifestyle and the stream of exciting projects at NCL. Even though I never thought I’d like sitting in a cubicle, I miss diving into various projects in my little space. I learned that I like to work with and get to know many people within the workplace, which was made easy at such a small organization. While reminiscing about my summer, I have reflected on how much I have learned during my internship from everyone I worked with and from the projects I worked on at NCL.

My cubicle, with a poster that roughly translates to "Yes, we can!"
My cubicle, with a poster that roughly translates to say “Yes, we can!”

I now have many new interests within the field of health advocacy, since I’ve met lots of people working at various agencies, companies, and non-profits that promote public health. I learned about women’s health from some of the meetings I attended and I would be interested in working somewhere dedicated to this group. While improving the website for the NCL’s national medication adherence program and attending FDA hearings, my interest in working on drug education or drug policy piqued. NCL opened my mind up to a host of potential career paths related to social justice advocacy and public health.

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NCL’s Executive Director took the interns out on a museum day trip

I developed a deeper understanding of the health policy environment and of the current issues facing consumers in the U.S. I had the opportunity to attend briefings to hear from experts about topics I am interested in, such as drug safety and the ACA, and to learn about topics I knew nothing about beforehand. There is a lot to stay on top of in Congress but working at NCL kept me on my feet, learning firsthand about bills each week. I enjoyed analyzing the implications of new policies for consumers and writing blogs about policies that should be enacted to combat consumer issues. I gained new knowledge while researching for my blog posts covering birth control costs and life insurance. The most rewarding project I worked on was for my supervisor for her appearance at the United Mine Worker Association conference. I wrote a brief about the coal industry and the environment and wrote a paragraph for her speech about some of the work we had done together.

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One of my co-workers presented the charts I worked on to display facts about consumer choices in the health insurance marketplace

I would advise students interested in interning at NCL to learn about the organization’s impressive history and find out what parts of the organization relate to their interests. I expected to participate in more lobbying with NCL but the summer is a slow time in Congress and it is difficult to get meetings with representatives and senators. My first week, I sat in on a meeting about a bill with a Congressional staffer, my supervisor, and another NCL staffer. Unfortunately that was the only time I saw lobbying take place but I learned that everything NCL did, from our blog posts to our attendance at press conferences, was a form of advocacy. Sometimes I would be writing a blog post and wondering how it could make a difference in the lives of others, something I aimed to do when I applied to this social justice oriented internship. When I visited the Newseum this summer, I realized that journalism is one of the best ways to make an impact and aid in solving issues. Although I wouldn’t call myself a journalist, my research and writing skills have improved at NCL and I plan to use them for my further advocacy efforts and in the career I end up choosing.

My co-interns at a consumer advocate party sponsored by the Committee on Energy and Commerce
My co-interns at a consumer advocate party sponsored by the Committee on Energy and Commerce

While House of Cards and West Wing are fun to watch on Netflix, there is nothing quite like living and working in DC for 8 exhilarating weeks. I am grateful to have had this opportunity through WOW and NCL. Thank you for reading my blog and keeping up with the work I’ve been doing this summer!

– Rebecca Groner ’17

Saying Goodbye to AVODAH

This summer has been a whirlwind of adventure to say the least, and I have enjoyed everyone minute of it. It was weird saying goodbye to the cubicle that I had worked in for the past 11 weeks, and to all of my amazing coworkers and friends that I was introduced to along the way. 

I know that I mentioned in my last post that I had discovered that working in the non-profit sector was more of a hobby than a profession for me, and although it was true I am still so grateful for my opportunity with AVODAH this summer. My first day in the office, I came in with no experience working in an office, and brought with me only a notepad and a pen. Now I am leaving with a confidence I never had before about this style of work. My main goal with this internship was to figure out how to work in an office setting, and whether working in the non-profit world was something that I wanted to pursue, and I think I was successful with both targets. My career interests have altered since I first arrived at AVODAH, but that was part of the reason I explored this internship experience in the first place. To figure out if a girl wants to work in the Theater, first you have to take her out of it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I think what I have learned the most from this experience is to not be afraid to try different professions, and take innovative opportunities because you never know where they may lead. For me, spending a summer New York City exploring both the non-profit world by day, and the theater world by night helped reaffirm my passions for the two, and helped lead me into a professional direction for the future. I truthfully was nervous when I received my internship with AVODAH for the summer, but I am so thankful that I seized this job because I know I have grown from it in a way that I probably would not have by staying in Philadelphia. If anyone reading this is interested in working for AVODAH for the summer, my recommendation is to apply! This is coming from someone who learned she does not even want to work in this field, but this summer was unforgettable. The people you will meet throughout the company are so kind and intelligent, and also it is an opportunity to explore a new place or field summer, so to me applying here is a no-brainer. I am truly shocked by all AVODAH, and New York City has taught me over these past 11 weeks. From meeting volunteers who moved me, to seeing shows on discount that inspired me. Never be afraid to take a chance on a wonderful position, you may just be surprised at what it will teach you.

– Jessica Star ’17

Finishing up the Summer at the Benson-Henry Institute

This summer, US News ranked Mass General Hospital #1 Hospital in the world. The Psychiatry Department on its own was also ranked #1.

It is hard to believe that my time at the Benson-Henry Institute is coming to a close. It is has been an absolutely incredible summer and I have learned so much in my time at the BHI that it’s hard to put it all into words. I’ll start with the easier part. Working at the Benson-Henry Institute at Mass General Hospital this summer has taught me a lot about research. From IRB requirements to spreadsheets to “Note to Files” to the proper way you have to sign any mistakes you make on official documents (one strike through, sign, date!), it has been so exciting to learn about the process of accumulating data, keeping track of it, and learning from it. Similarly, I gained a lot of experience in the clinical world this summer which was an initial and now superseded goal of my internship at the BHI. Though we are a research institution, we also serve as a clinical research institution which means that I interacted with a lot of patients and participants this summer. I met study participants at the Clinical Research Center on the main hospital campus for their appointments and gave them surveys to fill out for our studies related to their stress levels. One of my favorite patient-interaction opportunities was making phone calls for our multiple myeloma study, where I interacted with doctors (who told me if a patient was eligible based on our particular biological criteria), patients, and even some patient family members as I recruited for our study on how the relaxation response can affect those who have a precursor for multiple myeloma (MGUS or SMM).

The two examples listed above are the easy ways to tangibly express how much I took away from my summer at the hospital. However, one other factor that is slightly harder to put into words is the mentorship I received this summer. I am so thankful for all three of the clinical research coordinators (one of them a Brandeis alum!) who trained me this summer not only on the work and studies we were focusing on, but also on a personal level. They gave me incredible advice and wisdom regarding how to join the field of clinical psychology. At the beginning of the summer, I was convinced that after I graduated this May I would immediately start a clinical psychology PhD program. I still want to do that, but I think now that I am much more open to other opportunities as well. Maybe I’ll look for a psychology fellowship to really hone my research interests and skills. Perhaps I’ll take what I learned about stress management here and go abroad for a while to see how mind-body medicine fits into different cultures. Maybe I’ll look for a clinical research coordinator position right here in Boston where I can continue learning before I take the leap and dive in graduate school. Regardless of where I choose to go, I feel much more confident (and less stressed!) about my future as I delve into this field and I could not have done that without the incredible mentorship of the clinical research coordinators at the BHI.

Luckily for me, I’ll be continuing at the Benson-Henry Institute for the school year and I can’t wait to see what more I can learn.

Happy August!

Ellie Rosenthal ’16

This is me and my roommate (an intern at Fenway Health) on our last day of work.
This is me and my roommate (an intern at Fenway Health) on our last day of work.

A Summer to Remember: Reflecting on my Internsip

This summer has been eventful, exciting, busy, and most of all, rewarding. As an intern with Legal Outreach’s Summer Law Institute, I have grown tremendously both professionally and personally. It has been a rewarding experience because I was able to become a role model for twenty-five students. Seeing them grow and progress into young professionals was wonderful, as it helped me feel as though my duties and work led to tangible and beneficial results that helped improve the lives of young people. It is difficult to believe that 10 weeks have passed by so quickly. I will deeply miss many of the friends and amazing people I met during this internship.

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Prior to beginning my internship, my learning goals included strengthening myself academically, personally, and professionally. Academically, I wanted to develop better writing, editing, and researching skills. Since a large part of my responsibilities included drafting and sending invitations, thank you letters, and other types of correspondence, those target skills were strengthened since I was required to employ them quickly. It also allowed me to practice writing professionally, which is certainly a useful skill.

My personal learning goals included developing stronger communication skills, particularly with younger people, and public speaking skills. I was able to do so throughout the course of my internship due to another major part of my duties, which were teaching and interacting with diverse personalities. By teaching one lesson a week during the Summer Law Institute, I was able to develop stronger teaching and public speaking skills as I took command of the classroom and in fact even taught our students a class on public speaking. I also further developed my communication skills, as I sometimes had to interact with different personalities. For the most part, everyone I communicated with, particularly our guest speakers and generous volunteers, were absolutely fantastic and a pleasure to work with. However, through the few times that I had to have somewhat difficult conversations, I learned to develop and use patience as a key skill in communication, one that I believe I previously was not as strong in. As a result of my interactions, I believe each one of them was valuable and helped me become a better communicator in different types of situations.

Professionally, in terms of my career goals, this internship has been extremely valuable and significant. Prior to beginning, I wanted to learn from this experience whether or not law is what I would like to pursue. I especially wanted to learn more about the practice of law and what it is like to be an attorney. Through my work experience, I was able to interact and work closely with various attorneys. My supervisors, whom I worked closely with and learned a great deal from, are attorneys who practice non-traditionally as leaders of a non-profit agency. Most of our guest speakers during the Institute are attorneys who practice traditionally at law firms and they represented different fields and practice areas, which I found fascinating and very helpful. Through this internship, I was also able to visit a law firm for the first time and get a sense of the environment and what it is like. I also was able to visit important courthouses in New York City and meet very important and prominent judges. My interactions and experiences have helped me better understand what being an attorney is about, what it takes, and most importantly, why it matters and what it means to me. For this reason alone, I find this entire experience invaluable.

In addition to the above mentioned goals, I also did something I did not really think about or expect–I made friends with my colleagues. My two co-coordinators at my Institute became good friends of mine, as did my fellow interns. Working closely and keeping good relations taught me that having solid and friendly working relationships are central to making any workplace run smoothly.

Want to know more?  Check out this video or read SLI’s 2015 newsletter – a summary and celebration of the Institute.

– Aditi Shah ’17

Conclusion of my time at the Rhode Island Foundation

It is hard to put into words just how inspiring my time at the Rhode Island Foundation has been.  I have been able to meet and expand upon all of my defined learning goals.  Coming into the Foundation, my goals were to be able to apply my classroom knowledge of philanthropy, network with professionals and sharpen my research and analytical skills.  This summer, I assisted the Foundation in researching a variety of grant opportunities.  Applying my classroom knowledge of philanthropy was necessary for this task, because I was required to use a number of search engines such as Guidestar, www.grants .gov and the Catalogue of Federal Domestic Assistance.  The research was time consuming and I was able to sharpen my analytical skills by quickly reading through and summarizing large amounts of information.  Also, throughout the entire process, I was able to interact with a variety of professionals within the Foundation and learn workplace conduct from them.  I continuously received positive feedback from these professionals and my supervisor.  At the end of my internship, I am confident in my newly acquired skills.

Working at the Rhode Island Foundation has shown me that I would like to work for or with a foundation at some point in my career.  One of the reasons why I enjoyed working at the Foundation so much, is that it is an interactive organization.  I was able to either meet or work with people from all departments of the Foundation.  Because a variety of skills are required to smoothly operate the Foundation, I could use my business degree to work in the finance department, apply my social justice and social policy minor to the development department, or even become a professional advisor if I decide pursue a J.D. in the future.  I also learned that while my work doing research was fulfilling, some of my most enjoyable experiences were actually presenting my research, or participating in a meeting or brainstorming session.  I learned that because of my personality, I like to be in front of people and take the lead in presenting and delivering information.

If I were to give advice to future students in an internship at the Rhode Island Foundation, I would tell them not to be anxious about their experience.  I found the team I was working with was extremely supportive and willing to accommodate my interests and learning goals.  Naturally, there was an expectation to work and act professionally, but there was not an overwhelming pressure to do everything perfectly.  The Foundation is not going to put interns in a position where the work is over their head.  The research I did was challenging at times and time consuming, but it was rewarding to know my work was making an impact, even in a small way.  The advice I would give to someone working in the nonprofit field is that persistence and teamwork is key.  In fact, the first thing I saw coming into the Foundation in the morning was a powerful sign that hangs above the stairs that lead to my office.  The sign reads, “Never doubt that a small group of committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead.  In the nonprofit world, there are discouragements and people who will say no, but it is up to us, this small team of committed citizens, to be positive and persistent so that we can change the world.

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The sign with quote by Margaret Mead

This summer I am most proud of the fact that I was able to complete all of the assigned projects that were given to me and I did not commit any major mistakes or errors that needed to be fixed.  I had a little bit of experience with nonprofit work prior to joining the Foundation through my classroom experience, but I was still nervous that it would take more work for my supervisor to train me than I would be giving back.  However, I am proud to say that the opposite turned out to be true.  I was able to work efficiently and finish all of my assigned projects.  I am truly going to miss the people who make the Rhode Island Foundation the powerful organization that it is and the opportunities that the Foundation has awarded me.  Hopefully, I will be able to keep in touch with the Foundation and one day give back to the work that it does.

 

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The beautiful upstairs of the Rhode Island Foundation

 

-Lauren Nadeau 17’

Looking Ahead

It’s great to be back at Brandeis and in school-mode (although I had forgotten how busy and exhausting the first few weeks of school are), but I’m sad to be done with my summer internship with Company One Theatre— even if the last few weeks consisted of a lot more office work than it had been earlier in the summer (although I’m actually really proud to have finished a massive headshot reorganization project in which I re-categorized about 20 giant binders of head shots and resumes we keep to have records of every actor that has auditioned for us. I wish I had taken a picture I was so proud of it). 

My second to last week I got to sit in on a staff meeting, which was a great experience. Every member of Company One gets together once a week to connect, discuss different projects, etc.. We talked about what was going on in each department, discussed a potential play for the upcoming season and the pros and cons of it, talked about other theaters and their seasons, the benefits of joining certain organizations, etc.. It was very cool getting to see how a small non-profit theater organizes and runs things, and it was especially awesome to see how invested each member of Company One is in engaging the community and adhering to the core values of the company (making theater more accessible and producing theater that is diverse). It was also one member’s last week, so we celebrated her time with the company with cake, etc.. 

Overall, I had a great time this summer at Company One and learned a lot. I learned a lot about contemporary playwrights that I didn’t know about before, I learned what dramaturgy is (I think), I learned the ins and outs of a professional fringe theater in Boston, I even learned about Boston and its’ history.

Flashback to the LMDA conference
Flashback to the LMDA conference

I gained a sense of the incredible amount of work that goes into creating and producing thought-provoking theater— and with that I also came away more frustrated than I usually am at the lack of funding that goes into arts. These people who create this wonderful form of art are under-appreciated and underfunded in our society. It’s really something to see people working so hard to create art, to change the world, and to also see how hard it is to get funded, to get paid, in the theater world. And meanwhile public school are still cutting funds for music, theater, the fine arts, and all these art forms that are near and dear to so many peoples’ hearts. 

But I also came away inspired to know that there are people out there working this hard to produce diverse, inclusive, and provocative theater that talks about topics we don’t generally talk about in our day-to-day lives. I cannot wait to continue to explore all the different types of theater the world has to offer, and all the different ways theater can be created. Many thanks to Company One and the Brandeis WOW fellowship grant for giving me this awesome opportunity (and go check out their upcoming season!). 

Astro Boy and the God of Comics
Astro Boy and the God of Comics

Alison Thvedt ’15

The End of My Time with World Vision for the Summer

My lovely work space

 

For my time at World Vision, I had hoped to gain experience in helping facilitate organizational communication. My learning in this case was achieved mostly through observing my supervisor who deals with day to day employee needs; from handling internal relationships to communication between the various offices in different Brazilian cities. Furthermore, because I am passionate about cross-cultural dialogue and interaction in this increasingly globalized world, which requires us to understand other cultures in order to operate successfully, during my time at World Vision I wanted to explore aspects of what I learned in regards to global understanding in Organizational Behavior(OB), which is an area of business that deeply intrigues me. This summer my goal was achieved because as an intern at World Vision Brazil, I was able to gain an understanding of a new country alongside learning very specific cultural norms which translate to the work place environment.

Having the opportunity to work in an organization that focuses on international development and the alleviation of poverty, especially the experience of going to an ADP (Area Development Program), where I had the opportunity to meet with the children that the organization supports afforded me great insight. I learned important lessons, such as, the fact that it is crucial and beneficial to have a clear understanding of an organization’s core mission when you work there. Though I was an intern for the human resources department, going to visit a community development project was a source of motivation. My work experience changed after being at the project because  I saw that what connects all the employees is a passion for people and changing lives for the better. And as I seek to become a more effective communicator within organizations, such insight will be of use in my future. Also, through the internship experience my Portuguese language skills were significantly improved.

In my WOW application I mentioned how at an early age I became passionate in advocating for a break down in communicative barriers among people of different backgrounds. I then attended a United World College which provided training in facilitating multicultural dialogue as a force for peace in the world. These experiences enable me to easily integrate into new environments and engage with people from varying backgrounds; being an intern allowed me to test and improve these skills at a different stage in my life where I am older. Additionally, instead of using my interpersonal skills in an academic setting, I got to practice them in a professional environment.

After this experience, I would like experience in the for-profit sector to get a sense of the environment in order to compare and contrast my experiences. I would also like to get experience in more of the field work in international development. In order to learn how to be strategic and create proposals for plans to alleviate poverty sustainably, it is important to understand the field work.

Students interested in an internship at World Vision should know that there are many opportunities for volunteers available, especially for individuals such as Brandeis University students who believe in social justice. Also, it is an organization with operations in 100 different countries, meaning there are opportunities in many areas of the world. Importantly, what I learned spending time in a non-profit organization is that passion for world change is at the core of all operations. To make an impact you have to deeply care about what it is the organization is trying to achieve. It is also an industry that needs forward thinking people to innovate and create new strategies

Just to reiterate what I have mentioned before. By seeing the systems in place with the sponsorship program that World Vision runs, I have been reminded that anyone can be a positive change maker in this world. My primary philosophy when it comes to development is that I believe in sustainable poverty alleviation. I feel that everyone has the right to reach their full potential on this earth and that the inequality that exists in this world is something which can and should be fixed. Working at World Vision has reinforced this conviction and allowed me to realize the many ways in which I can be an agent of change every day and in the larger scheme of things. Social justice boils down to one concept in my opinion: “Love” as a verb, love for yourself which you can then translate into the world; when we love those we are helping we do not act out of selfish ambition but rather by the passion for what we know the world can be, only then does true change take place even when things are not easy. Lastly, as an intern, I have been challenged to think outside of the box in the development field. I now understand that there is no ‘formula’ to changing a community, each place has its own specific needs, and so does each organization.

A cycling event held in Recife Brazil.
A cycling event campaigning against “Trabalho infantil” meaning Child Labour. held by World Vision in Recife Brazil, July 2014.

 

Do I Finally Know what Social Justice is: Finishing up at AVODAH

Upon completing my time at AVODAH I began to think about what made me come to this organization in the first place, and beyond that, if I got out of this experience all that I had hoped for. AVODAH is an organization which upholds ideals which are important to me. My father worked in international human rights and refugee law, and my grandparents dedicated their lives to immigrant aid and preventing poverty amongst Jewish immigrants to Canada. Consequently, I grew up imbued with ideas of social justice, helping others, and understanding that my world is affected by all those in it. There was huge emphasis on the importance of ensuring social welfare and justice. That’s why I applied to work at AVODAH. I, as a product of my environment, felt a responsibility for others and valued my Jewish experience: AVODAH looked like the perfect blend of both.

I had two main goals coming into AVODAH: to experience social justice, and to learn about not for profit work. I’d be hard pressed to say that the day-to-day administrative work at a not for profit is exhilarating, but there were constantly valuable learning opportunities. All organisations have different departments that interact with one another, but at AVODAH most of these departments were staffed by one individual. Being present at staff wide meetings, and participating in conversations about strategy and how to proceed was fascinating. Every individual brought to the discussion not only their department’s goals, but their perspectives as unique individuals trying to accomplish those goals. It taught me that differently minded individuals create productive environments.

Aside from the work I did for AVODAH in the office, I was also able to experience firsthand some projects that the organisation undertook. One of my supervisors began to teach at a two week program called JUSTCity which was a project of List College (the joint program between the Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS) and Columbia University). Through this program eighteen high school students came together to discuss issues of social justice and inequality in New York City through a Jewish lens. It was first quite empowering to learn about Jewish attitudes to communal service, and the responsibility to contribute to the pursuit of justice. A particularly amazing experience I had in this program was hearing the thoughts and questions asked by the young high school students who participated in this program. I have been conditioned to this larger conversation in my personal upbringing and my time at Brandeis. Hearing this conversation through a different lens was enlightening and refreshing.

As I return to Brandeis I bring with me these conversations, these questions, and most importantly the lack of answers. I think that something that most people hope to get out of a summer internship is a potential career path, or some enlightened view on your life’s goal. I don’t think that’s what I got out of my time at AVODAH, I’m actually unsure if Jewish not for profit work is really for me. I did however garner a profound respect for the work that has to be done. I hope that I can translate that respect into this coming year at Brandeis by observing the world through not a new lenses, but various lenses.

At Brandeis I often hear the question “What does Social Justice really even mean?” asked a lot. Many friends of mine are often frustrated with the answers given or even the lack of any answer at all. I’ve realised that answering this question is not necessary. What’s most important is that we keep asking the question. As long as it’s being asked, we will strive to answer it, and as long as we strive to answer it, we will pursue social justice.

ISlide: The Final Chapter

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We had a lot of fun throughout the summer, especially when trying to finish a giant Whoopie Pie (see above via Instagram).

As the hours ticked by on my last day of work at ISlide, I noticed several things running through my mind. The first was relief. I knew that after this day I would be able to go home and see my family and that 45-hour work weeks were a thing of the past (for now at least). The second, however, was sadness. Throughout my time as a summer intern for ISlide, I grew extremely close with my coworkers, my boss, and the company itself, and the day had come where I would be leaving it. I had fallen in love with everything the company stood for, the product, and how we went about our business day in and day out. I started to realize how much I would miss that hot, old, amazing mill. But my time had come to move on and to allow another batch of young, intelligent, hard-working interns to come in and give it everything they had.

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Here is a picture of the slides I had made for a CrossFit Gym in Dallas (via Instagram).

During the months that I worked at ISlide, I had tasks and activities that helped me move towards my learning goals everyday. My main job was in sales. I worked day in and day out trying to add accounts for the company and manage the ones that I was able to sign. This task allowed me to build communication skills, confidence on the phone and in emails, and bolstered my Microsoft Office abilities. On top of that, we all worked very closely with Justin (ISlide’s CEO) in meetings where the topics included real world sales and operations reports, cash flow sheets, and investor decks that were used to pitch the company to outside venture capitalists and angel investors. These activities gave me background on all the things I had learned in the classroom and showed me how they are relevant in the business world. My tasks and activities at ISlide boosted my real-world business experience, taught me new skills and techniques, and showed me what it truly takes to run a successful start-up company.

From this point forward I will be looking to build off of my experience at ISlide. When it comes to my time in the classroom at Brandeis, I will use the experience I have gained and the new facets of business that I have learned to put the material into context as to how it could be important in future jobs. I think that this will allow me to focus more because what I am learning will have more meaning. I will also take my experience beyond to levels that reach outside of the classroom. Without a doubt in my mind, I will put to use the skills I learned at ISlide in my future internships, jobs, applications, and in life in general. I want to learn so much more and what I learned this summer will serve as excellent background knowledge for all of my future endeavors. I would love to explore more and more facets of business. I have experienced the start up world and the positions as a sales rep and I loved it. However, I would also like to look into advertising, marketing, and finance. These three things are experiences that I would like to take on in the future so that my knowledge can become as well-rounded as possible.

If I were to advise a future intern at ISlide or one in the sales/business field in general, I would tell them one thing: work hard. Work harder than you think you should. Don’t go into this internship thinking you have good work ethic; look to improve it. When I arrived at ISlide, I thought that I had top-notch work ethic, but then I watched Justin day in and day out. He is so diligent and so passionate and is willing to put in the hours for his company, for his child, so to speak. This rubbed off on me and before I knew it the nine hour days were flying by, I was working on emails when I got home from work, and I was thinking about ISlide all the time. The fact that I pushed myself to new limits when it came to my work ethic allowed me to experience success, and there is no better feeling than when the grind pays off. Here is a link to the website of an MMA apparel brand that I signed. I advise to work your tail off because in the end, it will make it exponentially more rewarding and you will be proud of the body of work you put together.

I loved my time at ISlide and wouldn’t change it for anything. It was an amazing summer, I learned more than I could have ever expected to, and it was a ride that I will never forget. Here is the “Meet the Interns” video that one of my fellow interns made about our summer with ISlide.

-Max Hart

LAVA BEAR Conclusion

My internship has come to a close! Unlike in my other posts, I feel at a loss for words. This experience at Lava Bear was everything I had hoped it would be. In my exit interview, I pretty much delivered heaps upon heaps of effusive praise. Lava Bear is a great company – it was sheer serendipity that this place was perfect for me. The last few days have been rough, acclimating to the responsibilities of “real life” and accepting that my time in Los Angeles has come to a close (or at least a hiatus).

The viewof Lava Bear through the garage
The view of Lava Bear through the garage

Spending these last few days reflecting, I feel that I accomplished my many goals. I now know that I could happily live in LA. I now know that I could work in development. I now know that I could read scripts for a living. This summer was not necessarily revelatory (it was too lifelike for that) but it was an incredibly important step in my career. I now know that I want to learn more about film budgeting and the Massachusetts Film Commission (potential future internship site?). I have developed a deeper love of screenwriting that I cannot really expound upon; again, my confidentiality agreement heeds, but I must say that one of the highlights of my summer was sorting through tens of fascinating and individualistic scripts that I cannot tell you about.

I was just discussing with a friend whether I thought reading such a dense volume of scripts improved my writing. While I don’t think it stoked my creative side, I feel my analytical work will be much stronger now. My wit is definitely more acerbic, that’s for sure! I will definitely be able to apply these skills during my final year at Brandeis. On the way out, one of the higher-ups told me I should start a blog. What a thought! I discussed with my coworkers the possibility of moving out here; all of them seemed willing (even eager) to help me locate a job. Writing thank-you notes was easy. I feel blessed and happy that I was able to make this dream a reality (with the help of others). Moreover, I made contact with a bevy of independent artists in the community. The friends I have made in California have been wonderful. I feel satisfied with the networking I did, and furthermore, I believe I developed my skills in networking.

I walked past this street art every day on the day to work
I walked past this street art every day on the day to work

My thoughts on film have shifted, particularly my thoughts on screenwriting. I feel pretty confident that I could work various vocations, from a suit to a creative. Now I have this year to make some decisions about the niche I want to occupy. Thanks to the WOW, I feel certain that I could compete in this landscape. I encourage anyone looking to work in film to simply start networking immediately. Networking is vital and you cannot make film without the assistance of others. That is what I love about film art, that it requires collaboration. I took particular joy in showing the work of Brandeis Television, a club I’m on the E-board of, to my employers and artistic friends. This is also not a shill, but I strongly recommend taking advantage of the resources the Hiatt Career Center has to offer. I used Hiatt offices to conduct my multiple phone interviews, have my resume checked, and the advice of my Hiatt liaison has been vital throughout the process. Keep working, keep pushing, because really, what else is there to life besides kindness and art-making?

I hope you have enjoyed reading my blog posts, my intermittent Carriemoments. Bonne chance, Brandesians and future WOW’ers!

-Alex Weick, Brandeis 2015

Finishing up at MCDI

At the tallest point on Bioko Island- El Pico.
At the tallest point on Bioko Island- El Pico.

 

It’s hard to believe it’s been over a month since my internship ended. I’ve been putting off writing this last blog for a while now due to a busy schedule and ongoing self-reflection.  Before my internship, I had a set of learning goals that I wished to, and did, accomplish: I spoke Spanish on a daily basis and continued to challenge myself throughout each day of my summer.  I learned the basics behind a data-collecting program and worked with various medical professionals in the clinical trial setting.  However, I also accomplished many tasks that I didn’t set goals for: I learned the difference between three species of mosquitoes and the difference between a male and female mosquito.  I learned what a good Standard Operating Procedure looks like. I also grew more comfortable expressing my ideas to my colleagues.

In the last few weeks I’ve been asked countless times what I did over the summer.  Now that I’ve had time to reflect on my summer experience I now know how great of an opportunity this was for me.  I am determined to pursue a career in the public health area and have looked at classes at Brandeis I can apply my new knowledge to.  I also recently met another CA that is a part of a Nothing but Nets chapter on campus that I hope to join this year.  I’m very excited to keep in touch with my summer colleagues and to learn about the progress that is happening in Malabo.  I know now that even the little things that I did were a part of a great cause.  It’s very motivating to think that I was a part of a clinical trial for a potential malaria vaccine.

My advice for other interns is to be flexible! There were multiple times during my internship that I felt like my expectations of myself and my internship were not being met.  It is during these times that you will learn something new about yourself and about “the working life.” MCDI was a great organization to work with and I encourage all interested people to apply to be an intern at one of their various sites.  Working in a country that you are not accustomed to and in a field where the territory is new (like implementing a vaccine trial) can be frustrating at times.  However, it is important to always carry a positive attitude and an open mind.  I met some amazing and inspiring people during my internship that will continue to motivate me throughout my career.

In Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, MCDI concentrates on preventing malaria transmission through indoor spraying, bed net distribution and education as well as implementing a malaria vaccine trial with the PfSPZ vaccine created by Sanaria.  During my internship, I had a chance to accompany the spray team to one of the remote villages that they visit.  It was then that I learned that malaria, although a huge issue, was not as important to the community members of this village as it was to MCDI. Many members complained of their lack of clean water, electricity and stable houses and protested MCDI’s attempt to spray the houses because they lacked more essential items.  It is difficult to pursue social justice in one area when there are other areas that need help too.  It is important that we as individuals work together to provide social justice in all areas.  All aspects of social justice are as equally as important as others.  I know that I won’t be able to help everyone in the world, but I am determined to help in whatever area I specialize in and strive to understand and listen to those that I work with and for.  Before I started writing this blog I felt as if it would be the end of my internship experience; however I am now more excited than ever to see where this experience will take me next.  Thanks to everyone who helped me get here.

Last staff photo!
Last staff photo!

– Jesse Knowles

Final goodbyes

The summer is all but done, I’m back in the US, and the temperature is already dropping here at Brandeis. Considering that the heat in Dakar is only just hitting its stride, I’m pretty happy that the northeast is cooling off sooner than usual. It’s a little strange to be speaking English almost exclusively and I’ll miss the homemade Senegalese dishes that I’d gotten used to, but it’s also been nice to see my family and be surrounded by green trees again. There’s nothing wrong with the Sahel,  but greenery is nice after 6 months of sand, sandy wind, and the occasional baobab tree thrown into the mix.

My learning goals were definitely skills that I improved during the summer. In the wake of the Ebola spread happening in West and North Africa, sanitation and disease have been keywords popping up in more conversations than I can count. One of my goals was to link my classroom knowledge of West Africa and its history to a more in-depth, on the ground perspective. One of my main tasks at GRAG during my last month was to complete a preliminary evaluation of a sanitation project done by UNICEF and a few other big-name international NGOs. I learned a lot about some of the smaller issues that affect the success of sanitation programs in the region in complex ways. For example, hand washing isn’t necessarily something taught in a lot of rural schools or focused on in households. And without a culture of focusing on small sanitation acts like that, any large companies coming in to spread messages about them can seem like just more of the same Western aid programs that might mean well but don’t end up benefiting the population in any meaningful way. The key to successfully impacting communities like the ones targeted by the UNICEF program isn’t anything difficult or impossible, it just requires careful listening to those populations. Community involvement does much more in the long-run than programs that only involve the population in secondary roles.

This example is relevant for my career goal, too. I had wanted to gain more experience with crafting NGO publications and reports and community involvement is important for that as well. Some of my translation work required translation of publications from English to French, which is one of the languages spoken in the area. But there are several other languages spoken by people in the area who don’t have access to the French education system. Sometimes another GRAG member fluent in those languages would have to take my translations and translate them again into local languages. And community engagement was important for the questionnaires to be used for research projects — we would occasionally have to bring in a consultant to handle parts of the project regarding a specific region or ethnic group and their traditions. This was in addition to hiring research teams from the targeted populations to be overseen by a supervisor from GRAG. All of this served to engage the communities better and achieve more of a grassroots, long-lasting impact.

My personal goal, learning more coping mechanisms for this line of work, generally went well. I’d become attached to some of the projects that I helped with or evaluated, so any failures I heard about could hit hard. But you learn how to deal with these kinds of emotional twists while working on so many things at once. It’s important that I remind myself that everyone will be trying harder on the next project and all I can really do is continue to perfect my section of it all. The team atmosphere at GRAG helped me to realize this philosophy and I think I can go forward knowing that those kinds of workplace bonds can be helpful in any kind of emotional situation.

My experience has given me a lot more confidence in my ability to work in an industry that I’m interested in. From here on I’m hoping to jump into even more experiences in line with research and NGO work and possibly including travel. I’ve looked into internships in the Brandeis area that do public health research or deal with sustainable tourism.

I would advise anyone wanting to work at GRAG to make sure to look for opportunities outside of the given tasks. After about a month and a half the pace got pretty erratic. There would be some weeks with pages and pages of proposals to work on and others when days went by with only simple tasks or almost nothing to do. In the end I would come up with tasks to add onto, like helping other GRAG members on their projects, or I would ask my supervisor for more things to do. I think the pace of my internship is pretty similar to that at other international aid organizations since I helped my boss do some work for a UNAID office at their headquarters in Dakar once and the setup was much the same. In general it’s necessary to be aware of the differences in activity day-to-day and not to let the fast pace or a dragging day dishearten you.

My thoughts about social justice have been reinforced as a result of my experience this summer. My internship helped me to focus on the fact that there are many different ways that I can help people in far-flung locations…but also many ways in which I can’t. I’m not fluent in any local languages in the Dakar region or fully knowledgeable of the cultures that exist there. I could pick almost any point on the globe outside of the northeast United States and the same would be true. I think that many times our vision of social justice becomes patronizing and very paternalistic to some of the people we think we are “helping.” An important part of social justice abroad is standing up for your corner of the globe and realizing that you are not the expert on any others. For me this means that I will look for opportunities in the future that partner me with people who have grown up in these places and have a deeper understanding of the forces at play there. Organizations like UNICEF or UNAID can do a lot of good, but doing so takes some stepping forward from people like me and also some stepping back. Maybe the gap between classroom education and real-world experience can never be fully filled in and that’s fine. We all have to do what good we can in the ways that we can, adding onto others and eventually creating an even better network of specialized change agents.

The summer was everything that I needed in my career and personal lives and more. I’ll miss Dakar for a while but for now it’s back to Brandeis, back to formal academics, and back to figuring out the future as it comes.

 

-Natasha Gordon ’15

 

Is the Work Truly Over?

Hello everyone,

I hope your summers have ended well and that you are all settling back into school or whatever you may be up to at this point. I have been at Brandeis for three weeks, jumping right from my internship into CA training, and from that to classes. Although my internship ended on a “good note,” for all intents and purposes, I still have work to do.

Just in case I did not clarify sooner, AVODAH, the organization for which I interned this summer, is a Jewish non-profit organization, which works towards bringing social justice-oriented Jews into significant roles in antipoverty organizations, influencing Jewish communities to do likewise. The word avodah in Hebrew literally translates to “work”, hinting at the difficult work at hand in the effort to eliminate or at least ameliorate the causes and effects of domestic poverty. A Jewish proverb delineates the same concept, stating that “it is not on you to finish the work, and you are not free to exempt yourself from it.” There may be large, overwhelming steps in the process of reaching the goal at hand, but you can’t back away from it.

This proverb perfectly expresses what has been on my mind since my completion of the internship. I have learned a tremendous amount about the inner-workings of a non-profit organization, as well as the goal of the organization and especially pertaining to alumni and community engagement strategy. I have begun to think critically about my role as a leader in multiple subsets of the Jewish community, and how my experiences at AVODAH can bring others to think similarly about issues of domestic poverty and Jewish communal involvement. I look forward to contributing and facilitating programming on the Brandeis campus and perhaps beyond, bringing others to better understand and contribute to a more socially and economically just society. I have much to learn about antipoverty work and urban poverty in the United States, but I have a good foundation on which to build greater understanding.

I have also an enormous amount of respect for all the AVODAH staff members. Each and every one has great expertise on how to run this crucial organization, and has helped me understand how their job contributes to the larger picture and how my work added to their project. Finally, I have to thank my supervisor, Rabbi Stephanie Ruskay, for teaching me about what it is to be passionate about Jewish antipoverty efforts and how to bring knowledge and personal experiences into the work setting in a productive way. I hope to continue the relationships I have built with my supervisor as well as other AVODAH staff members, as I see them as invaluable guides to that particular field and trailblazers in progressive Jewish communal efforts.

As I plunge into this semester and what it may bring, I will have an increased awareness of the world around me, and have a better grounding in what I can do to contribute to a more sustainable and socially just community and society. I am grateful to have been able to give you all snapshots of my experiences, and hope that you all have meaningful semesters and feel free to ask any questions you may have about my internship.

Thank you for reading, and best of luck to you all!

Hannah Z. Kober