Wrapping up AVODAH

It is hard to believe that my summer at AVODAH has come to a close, but I know I have learned more than I ever expected. I definitely improved my organizational skills through being responsible for updating and maintaining national databases and listservs, and also through creating new resources for the upcoming year. I have become more technologically savvy and creative. AVODAH is an organization that strives to stay up to date with technology, and as I was responsible for creating resources like monthly e-newsletters and google sites, I learned a great deal about how to navigate these technologies.

I also completed a research project on National Boards to learn about successful tactics being used by peer organizations that could be beneficial to AVODAH. I interviewed representatives (including Executive Directors, Presidents and Board Members) from seven organizations and then, combined with my own research, collaborated with my supervisor to compile a project report for AVODAH’s Governance and Nominating Committee.  The project allowed me to practice and improve my communication skills, and gave me the opportunity to learn about other organizations and techniques. For example, the Executive Vice President of American Jewish World Service taught me a great deal about generative thinking, which is explained in this article.

During the rest of my time at Brandeis and beyond, I will continue to utilize and build upon the skills I learned at AVODAH. Directly after my internship was finished, I spent the week volunteering as a staff member at a teen leadership camp, and I found myself applying much of the knowledge I gained at AVODAH to my role at camp. Now that my internship is complete, I am motivated to continue taking on experiences that allow me to learn by doing. I would advise any student interested in an internship at AVODAH or in a similar field to do what was most beneficial for me: jump in with both feet, keep an open mind and seize every learning opportunity possible. Connecting with internship colleagues and supervisors is also one of the best actions to take.

This internship definitely reinforced my ideas about Social Justice. When I began my internship with the Director for Alumni and Community Engagement at AVODAH, the importance of keeping the Alumni Network thriving was not totally evident to me. Over the course of my internship, largely because of the many thought-provoking conversations I had with my supervisor, I came to realize why the Alumni Network is so important. AVODAH lives and breathes social justice. Their mission is to strengthen the Jewish’s community’s fight against domestic poverty, and to do this by “engaging participants in service and community building that inspire them to become lifelong leaders for social change.” In order to ensure that the latter part of the mission statement–inspiring participants to become lifelong leaders for social change–occurs, AVODAH needs to offer more than just a year-long program. This is why it is so important to facilitate the alumni community: to engage in a lifelong quest for social justice, alumni need assistance securing jobs in the social justice world, opportunities for networking within the social justice community and trainings that offer further skill-building opportunities. AVODAH’s mission could not be fulfilled with only the yearlong program. Working in the Alumni Department really showed me what a social-justice oriented organization looks like.

Overall, my AVODAH internship was a great experience! I am thankful for the intelligent and inspiring people I got to meet and work with, and look forward to using my new knowledge in the future. To learn more about AVODAH, check out their website and blog!

– Sophie Brickman ’16