The first half of my internship has been fantastic. It has gone by fairly quickly, and I have been having a great time, while also working very hard. So far, it is everything I was looking for in an internship.
Over the past four weeks, I have already learned so much about non-profit work and community organizing. I have learned about how to best recruit people for action and to keep them engaged, and how to help those people lead and take action. I have definitely learned how to effectively plan, and to make goals that I can reflect on and grow from. This summer, I set out to become more motivated to work even harder for causes I believe in, and this organization has definitely done that for me. Everyday, I repeatedly discuss with co-workers and the public why opting for tap over bottled water is so important and every conversation I have reminds me why I care so much about the issue. Unsurprisingly, my communication skills have grown immensely throughout those conversations.
My goal to meet more activists around my age and role models who organize the campaigns I’ve worked on has been met on a level I did not even expect. The staff at Corporate Accountability International, as well as my fellow interns, inspire me every day to embrace my passion for fighting against corporate abuse. I’m constantly reading new articles and seeing new blog posts and videos that once again remind me how important it is for us to reinvest in public water systems. For example, check out this video that urges people to tell the National Park Service to phase out bottled water.
Every week, I meet with my supervisor to discuss what we have been doing well, and what we could do better. These weekly meetings help me monitor the progress I have made as an individual, and the progress that we have made as a team. We reflect on our goals, and our accomplishments and compare how well we are doing with how well we should be doing.
Right now, I’m most proud of the progress I’ve made in effectively asking individual members to take action in getting involved in our Think Outside the Bottle Campaign. At first, I was afraid to burden people by imposing on their lives and asking them to take the time to help our campaign. However, through many supportive conversations with my coworkers, I have come to terms with the fact that I’m not burdening anyone. How could I be when in fact I’m fighting for issues that I care about and that others may care about as well?
One of the most important lessons that I have learned at this internship thus far is that it is important to be confident in the work I’m doing, and never to apologize for asking people to help because our cause is worth it. Whenever I get a little intimidated on the phone, or nervous that someone doesn’t have time to listen to what I have to say, I have to remember that they need to listen, and if they don’t have time, or don’t want to participate, they will tell me. Further, I need to convey the fact that I believe in what I am saying. It is easy to fall into a script or a routine, but what I am saying is more than that. This skill is especially important academically, as an essay will become much stronger and easier to write if I remember to write about what I believe in. Furthermore, remembering what I care about and making sure it is always conveyed in what I’m saying and writing, will benefit me throughout my remainder at Brandeis and beyond, as I apply for any and all future jobs and pursue my passion for community organizing.
Check out this awesome article about Western Washington University becoming the largest public college in the US to ban bottled water! Our Think Outside the Bottle Campaign has worked on initiatives there to phase out bottled water so this is really exciting for us!