So, how does Twitter work? That is one of the biggest logistical questions I have been trying to answer up until the midpoint of my summer internship at the Responsible Wealth project of United for a Fair Economy. You would think that being from this generation of twenty somethings, I would already have a firm grasp of the Social Media platform and how to best utilize it to communicate a specific message. To be honest, I had not used it until this summer. Now look at me. I am actually in charge of manning the Responsible Wealth Twitter and Facebook pages. Aside from just learning how to utilize this mode of communication, I am gaining an important skill: the ability to communicate a message (in this case the message of Responsible Wealth) in a relevant, concise, and intriguing manner that keeps my audience (that’s you!) in mind. I have started asking myself: What does my audience already know? What topics that our organization addresses would they be interested to learn more about? How can I present it in a way that will grab their attention, and, most importantly, get them to ACT?, etc. One of the best examples I can give of a source of information that I shared via social media that I knew would be
interesting, attention grabbing, and informative is the inequality.is site. If you have any interest in learning (interactively) about economic inequality in this country and how we can fix it, I highly recommend this site. This ability to communicate your message and to get more people strongly engaged in your work is a highly transferable skill, as any company or organization has a message or information that they want to share with their base – and usually in a way that will get them to respond. The increase in our organization’s social media outreach is probably what I am most proud of at my internship right now. This is partially because it is an accomplishment I can see numerically (e.g. number of followers) and also because it means that people are interested in the information I am sharing I am sharing on behalf of the organization.
Additionally, in my constant search for articles and information to share I am gaining a wealth of information about various aspects of inequality, including racial, gender, and economic inequality, and how to address them, which are core learning goals I set for this internship. I can measure how I am progressing in this goal through how much I find myself able to discuss these topics with others at my internship who have more experience in them, as well as with my friends who come from various different academic and experiential backgrounds. I have found that I am better able to take the concepts from what I have learned academically at Brandeis to apply them to these real world issues. Most importantly, I now have a better understanding of how to combine academics with experience to work to fix problems that I see in the real world. This involves my other learning goal of understanding “how to use the knowledge I have gained from my majors in International and Global studies (IGS) and Health: Science, Society, and Policy (HSSP) as well as my minor in Economics to work for social justice, locally and globally.”
Social Media isn’t the only type of communication that I have gained experience in this summer. I have also been calling members of Responsible Wealth to update their contact information and find out more about their interests and how they could best participate in Responsible Wealth. This can sometimes be more intimidating than anonymously posting things online, but this more personal form of communication is also an important transferable skill to any job. Engaging people directly is an essential part of building support for your organization.
One final thing I would like to add to this post is that I had the opportunity to attend the Budget for All rally and hearing at the Massachusetts State House on July 10th, where many supporters of the budget resolution – which passed in all 91 MA towns where it was on the ballot – spoke in favor of the resolution’s proposal to redistribute the federal budget by putting less emphasis on the military and more on social issues like education. These supporters included several elected officials and a member of United for a Fair Economy, Steve Schnapp. It was a 4-hour long hearing, during which I took in a lot of information and learned more about how to get issues you care passionately about to be discussed and changed at the state and federal level. And that is the key: to have measurable success in directing more funding toward social issues we need to be heard clearly and repeatedly by policy makers in both Boston and Washington D.C.
Graphic Credit: Vandivier, David. Jan 11, 2013. What is the Great Gatsby Curve? The White House Blog. http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2013/06/11/what-great-gatsby-curve