As I reflect on my midpoint at the Rhode Island Foundation, I am aware that I have experienced many positive emotions in and out of my workplace environment. I enjoy going to work at the Foundation so much so, that I come in before the time I am supposed to arrive everyday. I like to be in an environment filled with people who are passionate about the work they do. It encourages me and gives me hope that I will one day find a job that I can be equally as passionate about. My overall impression about the workplace is that the work can be challenging and tedious, but every detail counts. Life moves fast and it takes energy, skill and passion to make the work go by smoothly.
The world of work is different from university life in that you are not measured on your performance by grades, or how much you have memorized for a test. Instead, you are measured on how well you can work with members on a team and alleviate some of the pressures and challenges team members face. Academic work is oftentimes individualistic. However, I have realized that in the real world, you have to know how to talk, interact and learn from one another across a company, or in my case, a foundation. I know that this can be a challenge for many workplaces; however, at the Rhode Island Foundation, everyone tries to make time for one another so that communication stays open. I feel very well supported in this type of environment and because of the great teamwork and cross-departmental collaboration, I have been fortunate to meet and work with a large network of people.
The skills that I am learning in my internship are extremely valuable for me. I am learning how to analyze and read through large amounts of information, and then summarize it in order to present my findings to my supervisor. I am also applying my classroom knowledge of philanthropy and scanning broad search engines, such as Grants.gov, to do effective research for the Foundation. The research I am doing is time consuming and I am required to search many key-word combinations to find grants for which the Foundation can apply. It would be impractical to spend a lengthy amount of time on any one source so I have to find the information that I need quickly and then move on. I am now confident in my ability to be able to continue to use my skills to help the Foundation, as I have been receiving positive feedback from my supervisor.
Week one of my internship at the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) has concluded, and so far, my experience has been stellar.
Before elaborating about my experience thus far, I will highlight MCAD’s mission and my role this summer.
The Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) is a government agency dedicated to eliminating and preventing discrimination, and educating citizens of the Commonwealth regarding their rights and duties under anti-discrimination statues (MCAD website). If individuals feel as if they have been wrongfully discriminated against, they can file a complaint through MCAD. Within MCAD, I am working as a SEED Outreach Intern; essentially, I contact organizations that serve individuals that are likely to experience discrimination and ask if MCAD can host a presentation at their organization. My colleague and I then conduct the presentation which runs from one to two hours and goes over the protections that people have against discrimination in employment, public accommodations, and housing.
My first four days kicked off with training for all the interns, aimed at teaching us the relevant aspects of Massachusetts law (151B). The training was an illuminating experience. I did not know the protections against discrimination were so expansive or that Massachusetts has become a leading state in the fight against discrimination – which I elaborate more on in my next blog post.
So far, my experience as an MCAD intern has exceeded my expectations. The work is very engaging, and my supervisor has done a great job of training us and preparing us for the work that we will be doing this summer. She also does a wonderful job of fostering a healthy work environment and building a strong sense of team among all the outreach interns. We have the opportunity to attend “brown bag lunches,” where staff members at MCAD talk about certain topics over lunch. The first session discussed disability discrimination and was led by a subject matter expert who gave insights about the daily workings on an array of issues. In additions to structured trainings and talks, we are also given the opportunity to observe proceedings at MCAD. I have already had a chance to observed a conciliation hearing which gave me a chance to experience the law in a more practical setting.
The bulk of our outreach presentations are scheduled for July, so right now my biggest efforts are focused on outreach so I can schedule presentations with organizations. In my next post, I look forward to providing more updates – including details on my experiences on the presentations.
All in all, I am very excited to be working here and I am off to a great start!
The Akshaya Patra Foundation, which provides a mid-day meal every school day to approximately 1.4 million Indian youths, is the largest provider of mid-day meals in the world. This summer, my main responsibility is to interview parents, teachers, headmasters, and, when appropriate, the general public, in order to gain insights into the ways in which a daily mid-day meal motivates families to send their children—and especially their daughters—to school for longer periods of time. The Akshaya Patra Foundation has two primary and interrelated goals. First, the Foundation seeks to supply children to with a mid-day meal to incentivize participation in government schools and, consequently, to help alleviate child labor and slavery. Often times, children attending government schools are forced to drop out of school to work menial and often dangerous jobs to provide supplementary income to their families. Since the children are fed during the school day, it often becomes possible for them to attend school, rather than working to pay for their own mid-day meal.
Every day, I will visit three government schools and interview children ranging in age from seven to sixteen years old. I will interview nine children per day. In addition, over the course of the summer, I will interview several former mid-day meal beneficiaries who have received scholarships towards the cost of their post-secondary education. I will use these interviews to write a series of “case studies” for the Foundation. These “case studies” may be circulated internally within Akshaya Patra, or may be displayed on the Foundation’s website with the hope of motivating potential donors to support the Foundation by qualitatively demonstrating the “impact” of the mid-day meal program.
Akshaya Patra is far from the only NGO to supply a mid-day meal to Indian youths. The Foundation receives half of its funding through the Indian government due to a federal mandate and national scheme that required that every child enrolled in an Indian government school is entitled to a mid-day meal. Since Akshaya Patra’s Bangalore headquarters raises approximately 40 percent of the necessary operating costs, funders that give in the United States account for only ten percent of the overall expenses. This differentiates Akshaya Patra from many other transnational NGOs. Because all of the food production—and the vast majority of the fundraising—come from Indian sources, the Foundation it is much more likely to remain sustainable in the communities that it serves.
Since the Foundation has asked me to write about “success” stories in order to demonstrate “impact,” I have proposed a senior thesis topic that explore the relationship between “success”—as defined by the informants—and caste/class status. More specifically, I have proposed to write about how notions of “success” are used by transnational NGOs, like the Akshaya Patra Foundation, as a means to motive foreign donors—primarily from the United States and western Europe—to support their work. I will engage with issued of “modernity” and “progress” as a way to interpret what “counts” as “success”—for the Indian students, for the transnational NGOs, and for the foreign philanthropic audience. I’m hopeful that this work, which will be informed by the interviews I conduct this summer, will also be helpful to the Akshaya Patra Foundation. I’m looking forward to sending a copy of my findings.
I have the wonderful opporunity to stay at the ISKCON temple complex while I am in Bangalore. Akshaya Patra is affiliated with the ISKCON temple through A. C. Bhaktivdanta Swami Prabhupada, the founder of the ISKCON.
The Akshaya Patra Foundation’s website in India can be found here. In addition, the USA Akshaya Patra website can be found here.
It’s hard to believe that I am already at the half way mark of my internship experience with AIDS Action Committee (AAC). During these four weeks, I have had the opportunity to learn more about some of the barriers facing access to affordable housing. My position requires me to make calls to property managers and landlords to inquire about whether they have affordable housing units available for rent for people of low-income. After making the calls, I update AAC’s online database and hard-copy files so that our clients can have the most up to date information about the affordable housing options that are available when they start to fill out applications. Despite this seemingly simply routine, there are significant systematic barriers that block access to affordable housing for those who are poor.
The wait list for many affordable housing units are often over 2 years long and it is very rare to find a complex that does not have a wait list. Despite how overwhelmingly difficult it is to find affordable housing, many property managers discriminate against poorer individuals seeking housing. Though many luxury apartment complexes have affordable units available, this type of housing is often times not listed on their websites or other advertisements due to stigma. Working at AAC has enlightened me on a wide range of social inequalities and health disparities and has made me want to become a better advocate for those who are sick and living in poverty.
At AAC, they are currently holding a bi-weekly training workshop series called “Getting to Zero”, in which staff members are trained on different topics related to HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment so that we can learn how to better advocate for our clients. After attending one of these meetings, I was able to gain knowledge on how to help people living with HIV/AIDS stick to their treatment plans and learn about some alternative treatment methods if people are not responding well to their medication or forgetting to take their medication. Though my main work at AAC is not in direct service to people living with HIV/AIDS, the training was extremely informative and allowed me to gain better insight on AAC’s mission. I am looking forward to attending more “Getting to Zero” meetings and I am especially excited to view the HIV/AIDS advocacy documentary “How To Survive A Plague” in one of our upcoming trainings.
This week, I had the opportunity to visit Youth on Fire, a program of AAC located in Harvard Square in Cambridge, MA that serves as a drop-in center for homeless and street-involved youth ages 14-24. Youth on Fire aims to respond to the basic and urgent needs of homeless young adults at the highest risk of communicable diseases and victimization. It was a rewarding experience to get to connect with the youth there and just hang out and get to know them better. At AAC I have gotten to interact with a demographic of people that is definitely different from what I would encounter in a typical college academic environment. I am hopeful that I will take the advocacy skills I learn at AAC with me back to campus and use them in the future as a public health provider.
This summer, I am the development intern at United for a Fair Economy (UFE). UFE is based in Boston, MA. Its mission is to challenge the concentration of wealth and power in the United States. UFE works to close the wage gap, advocating for jobs with living wages, progressive taxes, and a government that works for the common good. In addition, much of UFE’s work promotes equal opportunity for people who have been marginalized in our society for reasons including race, class, gender, and national origin. Projects include popular economics trainings, collaboration with other organizations to support grassroots campaigns for tax fairness, and materials to bring attention to important issues. UFE’s website is in both English and Spanish, as is all of the materials it produces and the events it hosts. UFE maintains that democracy must embody these components of equality.
As the development intern, I assist with fundraising and donor communications. My responsibilities include research, donor appeals, and informational material preparation. By helping to raise money, I will contribute to UFE’s important mission. I found out about this internship through Brandeis University’s community service department. UFE partners with the Hiatt Career Center at Brandeis to hire one intern each summer as part of the social justice WOW program.
Overall, I enjoyed my first week at UFE. I learned a lot about what the organization and each branch does. I read previous intern’s projects and talked to the staff. I also began forming relationships with staff and board members. Everyone involved is very committed to their work and UFE’s mission as a whole. Their dedication is exciting and I look forward to working with and learning from all of them. One of UFE’s most striking resources is, “11 Things the Wealthiest Americans Can Buy for the U.S.”.
Also this week, I completed my first project, an information and statistics sheet to be handed out at UFE’s board meeting. In doing this, I learned how to use the database in which UFE stores all information about donors and communications. I used the information in this database and Excel spreadsheets to assemble statistics on UFE’s individual giving and online giving over the past few years. I then researched data on philanthropy in the United States, and created a summary for the board.
In my time at UFE, I hope to gain professional, non-profit experience. I would like to learn more about what goes on behind the scenes at a non-profit organization, or small organization in general. This being my first internship, I would also like to gain experience with the skills required to be successful in the real world, like time management, organization, and communication skills. In addition, I hope to apply what I have learned in school, including an understanding of economics and writing skills. Also, I want to utilize other more abstract strengths I have honed in school, including hard work, dedication, and a desire to learn. Lastly, I hope to develop relationships with my coworkers at UFE. This internship is an opportunity to meet some amazing people and I am excited to learn and grow this summer in this position.
I have officially completed my first week of my summer internship at the Community Day Center of Waltham. As the only day center in the metrowest area, the Community Day Center of Waltham provides a safe, warm environment for people who are homeless or otherwise needing of the resources provided by the center. Approximately 700 people are serviced each year, facing complex challenges such as physical and emotional abuse, domestic violence, physical disabilities, mental illnesses, poverty, homelessness, joblessness, alcoholism, drug addiction, and legal issues. The day center offers these people a concrete support system, offering them services such as the Internet, phones, advocacy, referrals, healthcare, legal counsel, housing referrals, and job search assistance. By offering these services, the Day Center enables these individuals to become more independent and productive. Having worked with the Day Center sophomore year, I have become more comfortable working with this population and am learning much about their experiences and stories, allowing me to better understand the complexity of societal barriers and societal standings. My growing familiarity with this population allows my perspective on the Waltham community and in general, homeless communities, to expand. The development of this perspective will give me the greater knowledge needed to accurately assess and refer the people that live in this community.
At the Day Center, I have a range of responsibilities. I am a part of the Day Center team, meaning I help out with day-to-day tasks like help serving food for lunch, cleanup at the end of the day, and other tasks to ensure each day at the Day Center runs smoothly. Primarily I will be working on a health survey that over the past year, I wrote and implemented with the help of some Brandeis volunteers. I just completed our 100th survey and will soon begin the process of compiling and distributing that information. I will be writing a piece about the process of creating and implementing the survey. This summer, I will be collaborating with the Executive Director of the Community Day Center of Waltham to create a media strategy to share the results of the survey, identify stakeholders, reach out to community groups to give presentations, and coordinate these presentations. Aside from the health survey, I will be working on improving the Day Center’s efficiency and data collection by uploading intake forms, guest satisfaction surveys and other forms online. Additionally, I will continue to help with case management and support for the guests.
My goals for learning this summer include case management training and administration to assess individuals at the center, implementation and publication of the health survey, and continued learning about the societal barriers and struggles of this population. To achieve these, I will fully engage myself in the work I do, commit time and focus to fully understand the necessary protocols in order to properly assess and refer individuals, and create professional yet personal relationships. To learn about the societal barriers and struggles of this population, I will create an open-minded and comfortable, yet professional environment for people to feel safe approaching me to talk about personal issues, or to seek help. So far, I have successfully been able to create this safe space for many individuals. I have learned a lot over the past few weeks and I look forward to the coming month.
Tomorrow will be the first day of my second week as a Public Relations Intern at Tip Comunicación, a small PR consulting agency in my hometown: Buenos Aires, Argentina. Tip was originally focused on lifestyle brands, but has grown to be so much more. Among other things, we work with clothing stores, sports brands, and an international education company. I was very excited about this position, but I had no idea how fun, fast-paced, and hands-on it would actually be. It seems like this “summer” (it’s winter down here in the southern hemisphere) is going to be a really fun one!
My goal for this summer is to learn more about the world of public relations. I’m looking forward to working within the field after graduation, so it’s very important for me to know what I’ll be dealing with. Moreover, I find it really important to come home and work in my city this summer, as I’m getting closer to graduation in 2016 and I need to make the decision to either come back and live here or permanently move to the US after Brandeis.
The office is located in Recoleta, a beautiful neighborhood of our city that also happens to be really close to my house. I walk to work every day and it’s always gorgeous. Even though it’s late fall, the weather’s been amazing (around 20C/68F everyday). The city looks great this time of the year and it’s been great to be able to catch up with my friends and family while also working at such a cool office.
Everyone at the office is so nice and fun to be around, and the jobs we do are extremely interesting. Because it’s such a small company (only five other people work there), I’ve been already gotten the opportunity to write articles and press releases for a few accounts, and I’ve also been doing tons of media research to find journalists and media reps to promote our brands. I’m working as an assistant within the press department, so I get to do a lot of writing and networking with people in the media to help with the positioning of our accounts . While the office is very relaxed, the fact that it’s small means that I’m constantly being supervised, so I’m working very hard and learning a lot. My boss is super nice but also very tough, which is great because it helps me to improve.
In a few weeks, I will be working at a fashion show/summer collection launch for one of the best known swimsuits/underwear brands in the country. There will be so many great journalists, celebrities, and (according to my boss) TONS of amazing food. I will be welcoming the press representatives right before the show, and talking to them later to promote the brand and network while we all enjoy the good food. It’s nice getting to do so many different things and to see what everyone else is doing, which would be a lot harder in a big agency. I’ve only been there a week, and I already feel like I’ve learned so much about the business. I can already tell this will be a really good, enriching experience that will help me in my future career.
Another cool thing about the office is Chloe! She’s a super cute (and super quiet) dog that belongs to one of the agency’s associate directors. It’s easy to forget she’s around sometimes — until you start eating and she starts following you around to get a bite.
Overall I’m extremely happy at Tip and I’m excited for a summer of hard work and a lot of learning.
This summer I intend on taking up all of the opportunities I am offered during my time at American Jewish World Services (AJWS) in terms of work, nonprofit organizations, and myself in order to accomplish my goals for my future career, academic journey, as well as my personal goals for the summer.
In terms of my career, this summer through the internship I hope to learn as much as I can about how a successful nonprofit organization functions. Through my experience at Brandeis in furthering good causes, I have encountered a lot of politics involved. I am looking forward to seeing how such a remarkable and successful organization such as AJWS deals with the politics of furthering good causes and how it organizes itself to be successful. I also hope to get to know the employees at AJWS to hear how they ended up getting involved and their stories, both for networking and for personal causes.
For my academic journey, I hope to learn more about specific human rights causes and which ones in particular I might hope to further pursue. I hope to learn more about “experiential education” and programming. I aim to apply what I have learned in my classes dealing with anthropology, conflict, dialogue, and Judaism to the work I do at AJWS.
My personal goals for this summer align with the others as I hope to make the most out of the opportunity to work for these incredible causes with inspiring people. I hope to explore my particular interests and the ways I prefer to work, and to get to know the fascinating people who are dedicated to the work that AJWS does.
My Work So Far
This first week interning at the American Jewish World Service (AJWS) has been absolutely incredible! The mission of AJWS is: “Inspired by the Jewish commitment to justice, American Jewish World Service (AJWS) works to realize human rights and end poverty in the developing world. Rooted in our mission, AJWS was founded in 1985 by American Jews who wanted to join together as global citizens to help some of the poorest and most oppressed people around the globe. Today, AJWS is the only Jewish organization dedicated solely to ending poverty and promoting human rights in the developing world.” (ajws.org). I am working in the New York office in the Office of the President Intern position, where my supervisor is the executive assistant to the president of the organization.
There have been so many fascinating parts, and also many surprises.
Some interesting parts were sitting in on an executive board meeting where I learned all about the ways that AJWS forms their goals and how they plan to accomplish them. The main goal of AJWS is to help marginalized people in the developing world realize their human rights. There are different subject areas that AJWS works in within the developing world: civil and political rights, land and water rights, and sexual health rights. AJWS also deals with disaster relief. I have had a wonderful opportunity to sit in on many meetings with the organization, as well as converse with Ruth Messinger, the president of AJWS, about her work. Also, on June 10th, I attended something called an “All-Staff” which was a staff retreat for all of the workers for AJWS in the United States. We discussed how much of the “J” (Jewish) should be involved in the organization, as well as many other interesting topics.
My work has included a lot of administrative work such as writing out dictations, reading a lot of articles/Dvrei Torah to find topics/quotes of relevance/interest, and other tasks of organization that will help move the flow of AJWS along. I have loved the reading and learning as well as sitting in on meetings and getting to meet with executive board members.
I have been surprised a few times throughout this first experience. The first day, Ruth Messinger, the president of the organization, paid my fellow Office of the President intern and me an unexpected visit, surprising me. Also, the organization is going through some structural changes, so the staff are in an interesting emotional place. These experiences have taught me a lot about how to maintain oneself in a professional setting. I have also been experiencing living in a big city for the first time as well as living by myself for the first time.
The start of my internship has been inspiring and I have learned so much so far. I look forward to the rest of the summer!
My First Week in Indianapolis has already come to an end. Last Friday, after a three day organizing training with Interfaith Worker Justice (IWJ) in Chicago I arrived at my work site in Indianapolis. Here I am working with one of IWJ’s affiliate organizations, the Indianapolis Worker Justice Center (IWJC). This week was an exciting one, not just for me, but also for IWJC as an organization. IWJC was established about a year ago, and this week they were officially approved for a 501c3, as an affiliate for IWJ. They also learned that they received their first grant this week as well. As a new member of the team, I could really feel the excitement that brought.
The IWJC is a non-profit organization working to help low-wage workers come together to organize as well as provide them with resources and trainings such as “Know Your Rights at Work.” They are working on campaigns with taxi drivers and 1099 misclassification, including work against wage theft and much more. So far IWJC has been running solely on volunteer work, they are therefore not able to hold regular walk-in hours for them to advise people but that is hopefully going to change soon.
My tasks include reaching out to the community to let more people know about the center. I will also be helping with the campaign to organize taxi drivers who are meeting at the IWJC. Further I am helping to advertise for our Fourth of July Justice Jam event. My work will impact the organization because it will hopefully help it grow. By letting more people and organizations know about the work that IWJC is doing and the services they are offering they will be able to assist more people. By reaching out to other community centers, we also want to create a local referral list for people who come to us with issues that do not fall into the areas of work that IWJC focuses on.
My goals for this summer are to develop organizing skills. I have already been able to learn more theory during the IWJ intern training and am now starting to put it into action. One of the most important things is to build relationships, which I will hopefully start doing soon. I also hope to gain a better understanding of specific workers rights’ issues and how to fight them. I have also already been able to learn more, for example about the problems taxi drivers face in Indianapolis.
As a sociology major, this internship directly relates to my studies of inequality, social movements in the United States. Being a part of an actual movement will help me understand the work that goes into these changes and it will let me understand how the theory is put into practice. My career and academic goals are very closely related to my personal goals because I wish to work towards a more just and equal society. I believe that this internship will help me see inequality fist hand and help me act against it.
This summer I am interning at the Gulf of Maine Research Institute (GMRI) located in Portland, Maine. It’s a nonprofit and politically independent research, education, and community outreach organization. GMRI focuses on enhancing science education and literacy amongst the children of the state of Maine through interactive science programs, providing scientific data to inform policy makers on management of the fisheries Gulf of Maine as they experience environmental change, working with fishermen, chefs, and local retailers to encourage and support local, sustainable, and profitable seafood, and finally, strengthening fishing communities along the Gulf. For more information on GMRI’s main goals and programs I highly suggest checking out their website. Located right on the Atlantic Ocean, more specifically only a couple hundred yards from Casco Bay, GMRI is very connected with its main focus, the Gulf of Maine. As someone who loves the coast, going to work everyday and seeing the sea gulls flying by, the boats moving about, and smelling that salt air just makes the experience all the sweeter.
I was born and raised in Maine, right on the ocean near Portland. The ocean has always been important to me. The first time I ever came to the Gulf of Maine Research Institute, I was in 5th grade, a student visiting on a school field trip shortly after their current facility was built. When I came to Brandeis and became interested in economics, environmental economics in particular; I saw this choice as the perfect way to advocate for the proper stewardship of the places that are so near and dear to my heart. My academic work at Brandeis has definitely prepared me for this internship. Without my professors and the WOW grant program, none of this would be possible.
As one of a team of four economics interns this summer, my primarily responsibility will be analyzing and collecting data relating to the warming of the Gulf of Maine due to climate change. An article from the Boston Globe, published last summer, nicely articulates the struggles my home state, a place very dependent on its natural resources, is having to face. For most of my first week, I analyzed water temperature data gathered from the Northeastern Regional Association of Coastal and Ocean Observing Systems and trying to make sense of it all using various software programs. That actually brings me to an important side note. Though it’s just been one week I’ve learned that the biggest obstacle in economic research is finding good and reliable data that is both easily accessible and can be easily merged into larger data sets. That is no small task and often the lack of information makes life difficult. Thankfully, however, websites like NERACOOS and brilliant programmers like those at GMRI are working to make data more accessible to economists and scientists alike. Without good data, you can’t really do much and the positive change you wish to see will have a hard time coming to fruition without anything to back it up.
At any rate, I will be continuing to analyze things like water temperature at various depths form the NERACOOS buoys around the Gulf in addition to other data to try and figure out how changing temperatures are not only affecting the health and size of the lobster population but the local and even global sectors of the economy that depend on these unique crustacean. My work will be combined with the work of the three other interns in my division. It’s our goal to have a full report on the economic state of the lobster fishery, domestic and international, keeping in mind the ever increasing effects of climate change by the end of the summer!
I must say that I am very excited this summer because, for the first time, I have the chance to participate in and impact original research that not only matters to me but to my beloved home state as well. This summer is my chance to apply all of the theories and skills that I’ve learned though all of my economic and environmental studies courses at Brandeis. I want to pursue a career in environmental economics after graduation and perhaps get more involved in research, maybe even go to graduate school. Everyone has been more than welcoming so far this week. GMRI does a great deal to help integrate the ten plus interns across the various departments into the organization and after one week I already feel at home. There are 8 weeks left of my summer internship but I can tell right now that it’ll go by too fast. One week certainly has.
This past Friday marks the end of my first very busy, very exciting, and quite enthralling week of work at PFLAG National!
For those of you who don’t know, PFLAG is a national non-profit grassroots organization dedicated to both LGBTQ people as well as their parents, families, friends and allies. They have hundreds of thousands of members across the country and regional chapters in every state. PFLAG is the largest LGBTQ family and ally organization in the United States. Its mission is to support LGBTQ people, their friends and families, educate people on LGBTQ discrimination and the unique struggles LGBTQ people face, and finally, advocate on the local, state, and federal level to change attitudes and create laws that achieve equality for LGBTQ individuals.
Sounds pretty awesome right!
Well I have the immense pleasure to work under the Director of Policy, Diego Sanchez, as the Legislative and Policy Intern. Not only is Diego brilliant, motivated and passionate about LGBTQ issues, but he also has a long and intricate history of working in policy on both the state and federal level. Diego and the entire PFLAG office have been more than welcoming to me, and have immediately accepted me as one of their own.
Every day of work for me is different, so there is not really a “typical day.” However, my more regular responsibilities include writing up our biweekly policy newsletter Policy Matters, researching and organizing LGBTQ related legislative bills so that we can lobby them on Capitol Hill and among other LGBTQ organizations andconstituencies, updating our national advocacy toolkit and policy guide One Voice, writing articles for our biannual newsletter PFLAGPole, and finally doing some social media and website updates.
Even though I have a range of really interesting and engaging in-office responsibilities, I also get to do a lot of work outside the PFLAG office. Almost every day Diego invites me to an event, a bill hearing, a planning meeting, or a conference with a legislator. Through all of these out-of-office experiences, I truly have the opportunity to not only observe but participate in the policy and legislative process. Just this past week I attended a White House Big Table meeting on the upcoming Supreme Court cases, a USDA Transgender Panel (where Diego spoke) and lunch in honor of Pride Month, a Voting Rights Act rally planning meeting with a coalition of other NGO’s, and finally, a conference with a Senator regarding an upcoming LGBTQ-related bill.
I couldn’t have asked for more out of an internship and it’s only been one week! There are a lot of exciting things ahead especially with DC Pride this weekend and the Supreme Court releasing their decision on marriage equality in late June. Both DC and PFLAG have immediately captured my interest, my enthusiasm, and my passion for change. And so I cannot wait to see what the rest of the summer, my work, and this city will bring!
Last week I started working for the advertising agency Small Army and it’s not-for-profit cancer foundation Small Army For A Cause, which runs the Be Bold, Be Bald! cancer fundraiser each October. It is located in the historic Horticultural Hall on Massachusetts Avenue in the Back Bay neighborhood of Boston and is right across the street from the famous Symphony Hall, home of the Boston Pops. It is in a beautiful area of Boston, and it is only a short walk away from the Prudential Center, Boylston St., and Newbury St.
Small Army and Small Army For A Cause are some of the most creative businesses I have ever come into contact with. Small Army may be an ad agency, but they actually consider themselves to be “Storytellers for Confident Brands.”
“We consider ourselves professional storytellers but the industry we reside in is called advertising. We don’t believe advertising works anymore and that building campaigns off of key messages is outdated. We believe that when a person receives over 3,000 messages a day that odds are, they’re not paying attention to you.
We believe that marketing is about sharing stories and creating relationships. It’s about creating a conversation and arming people with the story about you that resonates with them. As a result, they want to share it with their friends.” (http://smallarmy.net/who-we-are/)
Small Army For A Cause, which runs the national cancer fundraiser Be Bold, Be Bald! each October, is just as creative. Taking place wherever you are, “participants go bald by boldly wearing a bald cap (or very boldly shaving their head) to honor those who bravely fight cancer and raise money to help fight back. Participants get sponsored for their bold move, and choose the charity they want their proceeds to benefit.” Since it’s creation in 2009, close to 11,000 people have raised approximately $1 million dollars towards cancer awareness and research. (http://beboldbebald.org/cmspage/5/event-details)
Heading into my first day, I was very excited. I had previously worked with a few people in the office, CEO Jeff Freedman and Jen Giampaolo, last summer as a marketing consultant for Small Army For A Cause’s Be Bold, Be Bald! cancer fundraiser as a part of the JBS Marketing program. With their help along with the help of many Brandeis students and faculty, we established a successful pilot program at the university and raised over $4,000 towards cancer awareness and research. However, this summer I will not only focus on Be Bold, Be Bald!, but I will also focus on many of the advertising agency’s accounts as part of my role as Account Services and Social Media Intern. Some of these accounts include Reebok One, Sage Bank, Blue Hills Bank, Long’s Jewelers, SolidWorks, Direct Tire, GymIt, General Electric, Salonweek, WGBH, Boston Medical Center, and Bugaboo Creek. (Small Army)
I had seen the office a few times before, so I knew how close-knit and friendly the workspace and my fellow coworkers would be. It’s funny though because growing up as a kid during a time when Mad Men was your only source of what ad agencies were like, you would expect a very structured, suit-and-tie workplace that is filled many individual offices and cubicles. You wouldn’t expect a wide-open, quirky workspace filled with a bunch of enthusiastic workers, and not to mention pictures of photo-shopped cat images, crazy memes, and artwork around every corner.
Besides the cool office space and work environment, my assignments have been very engaging and interesting. I have worked a lot on the social media, infrastructure, and customer management for Be Bold, Be Bald!, worked with a team to do marketing research for Southern New Hampshire Immediate Care and for the urgent care industry as a whole, and worked with a group to develop a new, innovative website for Blue Hills Bank. Not only have these assignments been interesting and engaging, but Small Army encourages interns to reach out to members on specific projects in which they might be interested in, join in on client calls, attend internal agency meetings, attend brainstorming sessions for clients, and many more.
I look forward to the rest of my time working at Small Army and hope to transform into one of the many “professional storytellers” at Small Army and Small Army For A Cause.
This summer I am thrilled to be working for Supportive Living Incorporated as a fitness trainer/research intern. This internship has two parts. To start off, I’ve been helping run a three day a week fitness program for adults with brain injuries. Later this summer, I will be working off site on a research project that will hopefully help SLI improve their wellness program as well as advocate for state funding. As the research portion of my internship is not fully underway yet, I’ll spend this blog post talking about the fitness program and my experience so far working as a personal trainer.
About Supportive Living Incorporated and the Wellness Center:
Supportive Living Incorporated (SLI) is a non-profit organization dedicated to ensuring that adults with brain injuries lead meaningful, fulfilling lives in their communities. To do this, SLI has created four residential programs that provide affordable and supportive housing for brain injury survivors. Brain injury can effect anyone at any time, and its impact is usually far reaching and life long. SLI recognizes this, and is a unique organization in the brain injury rehabilitation field because it offers comprehensive care that takes into account the many different needs of those living with brain injuries. First and foremost, SLI houses are not nursing homes. The four residential centers operated by SLI were all developed to be the least restrictive environments possible and to focus on opportunities for independent living. As a public health student, I am fascinated by SLI’s all inclusive and life long approach to brain injury rehabilitation. SLI aims to not solve the individual challenges faced by those with brain injuries, but rather the entire puzzle. In addition to independent housing, SLI offers social programming, career services, family support, life skills training, case management support, money management, health care services, and more. SLI also conducts research in the brain injury rehabilitation field. You can read more about the history of SLI here.
My Experience so far as a Fitness Intern:
Working as a personal trainer for SLI’s wellness center has been a phenomenal experience so far. On my first day, my supervisor, Peter Noonan, sat down with me and the other fitness interns, and gave us a “crash course” he called “Brain Injury 101.” We learned the difference between traumatic vs acquired brain injuries as well as the common complications that occur after a brain injury. We then met with personal trainers from an organization called Access Sport America who developed and run the fitness program for SLI. Finally, I met the individuals that I personally will be working with.
From 2:00-3:00 I will work with Terry, a middle aged garden enthusiast who suffered anoxic brain damage after having a heart attack about six years ago. Terry was confined to a wheelchair for about a year but is now able to walk completely on her own, though she still struggles with coordination as well as memory issues. Terry’s goals for exercising are to improve her coordination, core strength, and cardiovascular fitness so she can participate in one of her favorite activities- horseback riding.
From 3:00-4:00 I will be working with Lisa, who is quite a bit older than Terry but nevertheless full of life. She loves telling, and retelling, stories from her youth, including how she lead her high school basketball team to win the state championships and about how her two brothers “toughened her up.” Lisa usually uses a wheelchair but is adamant about using her walker for the fitness program. With Lisa I will work on walking and strength training to maintain her current level of fitness and keep her from being dependent on her chair full time.
Finally from 4:00-5:00 I work with Louise, who suffered her brain injury as an infant when she fell out of a window. Louise is also of advanced age, and is not afraid to speak her mind! I’ve found working with Louise to be particularly beneficial because she is always giving me tips and advice on how to safely and respectfully do things like help her stand up and walk. Louise suffers from seizures but other than that has very few cognitive impairments from her injury. With Louise the focus will be entirely on walking, as she does not get a chance to walk during the rest of the week, and needs to maintain the muscles and circulation in her legs.
I am loving that I can experience three totally different cases, each with different goals and needs for this program. An important thing I have learned about brain injury rehabilitation is how individual each person’s rehab journey is. Just like no two brains are the same, no two injuries are the same, and so SLI’s fitness program tries to offer one-on-one training as much as possible, so that a trainer can focus on one person’s individual needs at a time. This also creates a wonderful interpersonal relationship between the trainers and the individual they are working with. I can’t wait to bond with Terry, Lisa, and Louise at a personal level!
My career goal is to become a physical therapist. As a fitness trainer, I will be doing therapeutic exercises to rehabilitate people with disabilities. This work will prepare me for the work in physical intervention I hope to do as a physical therapist. I will also be making connections within the physical rehabilitation field, which will be invaluable as I begin to network relationships with physical therapists that can assist me in my prospective applications to graduate programs.
My academic goal is to apply and expand upon what I have learned as a Health, Science, Society, and Policy major. In the fitness program, my responsibility of administering therapeutic exercises will utilize and expand upon my academic knowledge of physiology, biology, and exercise science. Working with the brain injury community will further my knowledge about the disability field, which I have studied academically. My duties as a research intern will utilize/expand upon my academic studies of epidemiology, statistics, research methods, as well as health policy.
My personal goal is to form intimate relationships with the adults in the exercise program. Interacting with this population every day, I hope to be a fitness trainer, and also a friend. As a physical therapist I want to be as supportive and understanding as possible towards people with disabilities and know how to best serve their unique needs. While teaching this population, I will also discover a great deal about disability on a personal level, something I believe you can only truly learn through hands on experience.
That’s all for now! To see what the space and fitness program looks like, check out this video:
After laboring through a year of the infamous organic chemistry and surviving, summer has finally come. For this summer, in order to apply my school knowledge and to pursue my interests in medicine and research, I secured an internship at Brigham and Women’s Hospital/Harvard Medical School, located in the heart of Longwood Medical Center, which houses a plethora of hospitals and research buildings in Boston. The area is bustling with activity from morning to late evening, with patients, scientists, physicians, and students rushing to their appropriate destinations, ambulances blaring through the roads, and helicopters hovering over hospital buildings.
Brigham and Women’s Hospital, one of the largest and top teaching hospitals in the nation, aims to transform the future of healthcare through science, education, and compassionate care on both a local and global level. Along with Harvard Medical School, these organizations offer each other the opportunity for educators and leaders in their respected fields to mentor and nurture aspiring physicians and scientists, fostering a diverse community committed to leadership in alleviating human suffering caused by disease.
I specifically have the pleasure of working in Dr. Hoffmeister’s Lab in the Division of Hematology, formerly known as the Division of Translational Medicine. The Hoffmeister Lab’s focuses on the molecular mechanisms of platelets survival and hemapoetic stem cells (HSCs). HSCs have the fascinating ability to differentiate into all different types of blood cells and tissues, including platelets. Ultimately, the research done here will expand the overall knowledge on platelets and homeostasis, opening doors to treatment of various blood cancers across the globe.
A specific project I will be working on is titled “b1,4 Galacosyltransferase T1 is a key regulator of hematopoiesis,” which investigates the role of the enzyme b4GalT1 in the formation of blood cells and platelets. My first week, however, mainly consisted of acquainting myself with the Principal Investigator (PI) and the other personnel in the lab. I shadowed and observed another post-doc, taking notes on how to perform various assays, such as immunoblotting and immunostaining of various mice blood cells, and learned how to use the FACs, a machine utilized in flow cytometry, a core technique used for cell counting, cell sorting, and even diagnosing diseases in labs and clinics. My supervisor gave me a shot at dissecting mice and mouse embryo to obtains cells from their bones, spleens, and livers as well. At the end of the week, I also attended my first lab meeting. While I didn’t contribute much, I observed how data is presented, how questions are posed, how presentations are prepared for conferences, and how future steps in this lab and future experiments are determined and designed.
Ultimately, during my time here, I hope to become more independent and willing to tackle challenging assays, to master more high-level biochemical techniques, and to contribute to future meetings. While the experiments I will be doing aren’t large themselves, such assays are still important for the development of the overall project. But more importantly, as I forge connections with both established and budding researchers and physicians in and outside of the lab, I hope to gain a good sense of this career path. And while I might not necessarily end up becoming a scientist, the people I meet and the skills I learn will still help me later on down the road as I think about and search for jobs. Overall, despite my jammed packed first week, I am excited and look forward to seeing how the rest of my internship develops!
The countdown for the start of the Empowerment through Education (ETE) Camp in Hinche, Haiti has begun. ETE Camp is a not-for-profit summer camp that has been changing the lives of Haitian children for seven consecutive years. It was founded and facilitated by, Brandeis University alumna, Shaina Gilbert. The mission of the camp is to prepare youth in Hinche, Haiti “to become future community leaders for social change by strengthening their academic skills, increasing self-confidence, and building community and parental support.” In less than a month I will be in this brilliantly beautiful and resistant country, among the adolescents, teaching them and engaging with them in various topics including math, literacy, engineering, and leadership. In addition to those topics I will be piloting public health workshops to be included in the curriculum.
As a counselor I am responsible for creating a public-health curriculum and proposing it to Boston Public School ESL teachers for review to strengthen the program. This is the first part of my internship that has already begun. It is extremely exciting and slightly nerve-wrecking feeling to know that not only am I working with this program but that I get to start something that I’ve spent the last 3 years at Brandeis studying: public health. As a rising senior I am in a high-pressure yet eye-opening time of my life. I am responsible for coming up with options for my post-Brandeis life and this opportunity to plan and take part in a field of interest is not only invaluable but unbelievable.
The current part of my internship, that is pre-departure, deals a lot with research and networking. I spend a lot of my time looking at statistics and comparing the efficacy of other public health programs to build ideas from for ETE Camp. There is a lot of communication between myself, my bosses, and peers to integrate what I would like to see happen and what they can see actually working. There is a language barrier, Haitian Creole, to take into consideration, so keeping things simple and effective is the main goal. My workshops are covering a range of topics including leadership, self-love/self-esteem, fitness, and of course health and prevention.
My goal for this summer at the most basic level is to learn new skills and be completely immersed in this experience. I want to pay attention to how well theory does and doesn’t translate into practice so that I may develop necessary skills, as I prepare to leave my academic hub and enter the world, a place that is not as neat and organized as my textbooks. I will practice the problem-solving skills that I’ve learned to design my public-health curriculum and see what my skills produce. Giving this opportunity my full attention and dedication gives me the chance to not only show my gratitude for being a part of this experience but also gain insight into a future I am working towards. As I continue with the first, domestic, phase of my internship, I know that it is just as important as the second, contact-based, phase when I reach Hinche, Haiti. I am enjoying every part of my internship so far. The work that I have been given the responsibility to handle is showing me more and more everyday that I am capable of anything to which I set my mind.
For my summer internship, I am working at the Illinois Chapter, American Academy of Pediatrics (also known as ICAAP) located in West Town, Chicago, IL. ICAAP is a coalition of 2300 pediatricians located throughout the state of Illinois who are jointly committed to improving health outcomes of children throughout the state.
My particular initiative is called PROTECT- Promoting Resiliency Of Trauma Exposed Communities Together. Before I get into what the program does, you should consider watching this fantastic Ted Talk by Nadine Burke Harris about the overwhelming scope of childhood trauma, and learn why childhood trauma is being considered one of the largest unaddressed public health concerns to date.
The Early Childhood Development team at ICAAP- a group of three incredible and passionate woman- was awarded a Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) grant for three years, the goal of which is to bring together different initiatives working to reduce the impacts of childhood trauma throughout the state of Illinois, educate important players (such as pediatricians, educators, and faith communities) about the impact of childhood trauma, create a virtual resource center to provide free resources to those who want to become trauma-informed, engage with communities and families who are exposed to trauma, and create policy recommendations and best practices consistent with being trauma informed. (Thats a mouthful- learn more about PROTECT here!)
One of my primary responsibilities will be to deliver speeches about childhood trauma to different audiences throughout Illinois who want to become trauma informed. This two hour presentation, my boss informed me and my fellow intern, will ‘become ours’, and we will ‘own it’. They told us that by the end of the summer, we will become experts in the field of childhood trauma. Here’s a few of the responsibilities that I can remember them bringing up: We will be writing grants, conducting research to aid communities who want to become trauma informed, acting as a coordinator and moderator of different interest groups, presenting about childhood trauma throughout the state, and attending educational Webinars on behalf of ICAAP. These responsibilities, some mundane and some large, will help the understaffed ECD team work more efficiently and collaboratively towards their goal of bringing a trauma-informed lens to the state of Illinois.
These responsibilities align perfectly with my learning goals, just as the staff at ICAAP are looking to do. An academic goal of mine is to learn more about childhood trauma, and understand the impact it has on healthcare and society. Already at the end of week one, I feel confident in my knowledge of childhood trauma. The more I understand about the scope of its impact, the more excited I am about my work. A career goal of mine is to experience first hand how a non-for-profit operates, and what it means to work to reduce healthcare disparities, a buzzword that is constantly thrown around but that I’ve never truly understood. My work is constantly exposing me to new non-for-profits. One of my first assignments was to invite businesses and non-for-profits to our upcoming Autism, Behavioral, and Complex Medical Needs Conference. Through doing so, I came to realize just how extensive a community exists in the subset of developmental delays, and how many different creative approaches there are for mediating disparities in healthcare. A personal goal of mine is to get a better understanding of what drives change in the healthcare system. So far, I have seen glimpses of the dedication and passion it takes to influence policy makers, and I know that through my continuous work with such a noble organization I will continue to see what drives change.
My workspace! Notice that the coffee isn’t too far from hand 🙂
Greetings from Waterford, Connecticut! I just finished my second week interning for the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center as an Artistic Director’s Assistant. The O’Neill welcomes more than five different artistic directors to the grounds each summer to help develop new works of theater. Although many regional theaters across the country are now investing in emerging artists and plays, the O’Neill was the first theater to revolutionize the development process 51 years ago. Since then, the O’Neill has cultivated five different summer conferences as well as academic programs. Many of the pieces developed at the O’Neill have gone on to be extremely successful, such as Avenue Q, Violet, [Title of Show], The Wild Party, Fences, Piano Lesson, Uncommon Women and Others, In the Heights, and more. This summer, I have the privilege of working on the National Puppetry Conference, National Music Theater Conference, and Cabaret and Performance Conference.
I just wrapped up working on the National Puppetry Conference. During that time, I did administrative tasks, archival work, and was able to attend master classes taught by some of the most successful puppet professionals from around the world. For example, I participated in a three-day character creation class with Leslie Carrara-Rudolph, the voice of Abby Cadabby on Sesame Street. During the day, I worked closely with the artistic director of the conference as well as the associate artistic director and other staff members. I came in knowing nothing about puppetry and learned more than I thought possible. These first two weeks have already transformed how I think about both the artistic and producing aspects of theater.
My primary career interest is directing, and the O’Neill provides the perfect environment for me to work with professional directors and artistic directors. The next conference I am working on is the National Music Theater Conference, which will give me the opportunity to sit in on rehearsals. One of my tasks is to observe meetings with professional artists and keep track of changes made to the productions. This will allow me to gain a deeper knowledge of the practical and experiential aspects of the artistic process. One of my jobs will be to record and transcribe meetings between the writers of the new musicals and established artists brought in to critique their work. This will give me insight as to how to balance business and art and how to edit work with a specific audience in mind.
At the O’Neill, I am learning how to navigate different challenges that arise when working in a fast paced and demanding career while receiving the mentorship of professional artists. Although I’ve only been at the O’Neill for two weeks, I feel as if I’ve lived here for much longer. Everyone is so welcoming and supportive. It is so exciting to be in an environment where everyone is 100% dedicated to making good theater. I am beyond excited to kick off the Music Theater Conference this week with a reading on Slaughterhouse-Five the musical. If you’re in the area and interested in seeing any of the productions, check out the O’Neill website for more information.
This week marks my second week as a research assistant intern at the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital. The Benson-Henry Institute is a clinical psychology institute running out of the psychiatry department at MGH where we focus on health care and research relating to mind body medicine. Specifically, the Benson-Henry Institute studies the relaxation response, which is essentially the opposite of the fight-or-flight response in the body. The BH not only studies what types of exercises and techniques can elicit the relaxation response (i.e. yoga, meditation, etc), but also how the relaxation response affects our health. Studies published out of the BH have found that the relaxation response can help cancer patients, patients suffering from various mental disorders, and just about everybody else. Some of the published work by the Benson-Henry Institute can be found here.
There is always a lot going on at BH! We have multiple studies in constant motion, as well as patients interacting with doctors, and lab work through the hospital.
As a research intern, I am lucky enough to get to work with lots of different studies. This week, we are finishing up and organizing data for a 5-year longitudinal study on stress reduction. Next week, I’ll be starting data collection and entry on a study on myeloma and its interaction with the relaxation response.
One of the other great parts about this internship, aside from really getting my hands dirty in the research realm of clinical psychology, is getting to learn about everything else and everyone else who works at MGH. Benson-Henry has wonderful ties with various parts of the hospital, from the psychiatry department to the biomedical labs. For instance, every Thursday, the psychiatry department hosts grand rounds. Though most of the interns assumed this meant walking around the hospital following a doctor, grand rounds is actually one day a week to showcase some of the work and research that simultaneously occurs sometimes behind-the-scenes in the department. Today, we heard from an intern who is about to get his PhD and wrote his dissertation on adolescent depression. He talked about how gender, race, and therapy affect depression trends. As I was walking out of the lecture with another intern from Brandeis, we reflected on how incredible it was that we were able to understand so much of the talk because of the psychology courses we had taken. We knew how his study was formatted, and we were familiar with the tests he used to understand and measure depression, and we felt comfortable asking questions.
Finally, one of the coolest parts about grand rounds is that they all take place in the Ether Dome, the site of the first surgery at Mass General. Below is a picture of the Dome.
In 2014 there were approximately 20,000 people who, at one point or another, experienced homelessness in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. There are two avenues someone can pursue to help people who endure this condition; one is to provide them with direct services. The other avenue is to seek lasting change on the public policy level. The Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless, my internship site, pursues both.
The Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless, an organization that advocates for those who experience homelessness, carries a mission of eradicating homelessness from the Commonwealth. In pursuit of this goal, the Coalition operates both Public Policy and Community Organizing Departments. These departments conduct policy campaigns to promote legislation that enfranchises those who endure homelessness. Located in Lynn, MA, the Coalition also operates a furniture bank in the same facility to assist those who were previously experiencing homelessness in acquiring furniture for their new residences. My focus as an intern is with the Public Policy and Community Organizing Departments. As a Legislative Intern, I research policy proposals, recruit organizations to endorse the Coalition’s policy campaigns, and encourage communities to write to their legislators in support of these campaigns.
As a Coordinator of the Hunger and Homelessness Division of the Brandeis University Waltham Group, a student-led community service organization dedicated to connecting the student population with Waltham’s population of those who are homeless, I first learned of the Coalition’s work by researching local policy institutes with my peers as a part of an effort last year to incorporate advocacy into our club’s programming. Having begun the club’s official partnership with the Coalition this past fall, I familiarized myself with a few of the Advocacy Directors who are employed there. In January, as I thought about the importance of obtaining an internship for the second semester of my junior year, I knew exactly who to contact. Fast-forward 5 months and I continue to intern for an advocacy agency that has scored significant policy victories over the last several months, highlighted by the signing of House Bill 4517 into law, An Act promoting housing and support services to unaccompanied homeless youths. With your help, we can ensure that the legislation will be adequately funded for the fiscal year of 2016 (FY’2016).
The Coalition is staffed by a very talented group of women who possess and display a worthy amount of humor in the workplace. I am fortunate to look up to a few of them as role models. My first week as an intern in January I found myself trading and discussing good books with a co-worker. Although much of the initial work that I performed in the office was limited to collating extensive amounts of policy fact sheets, I have graduated to completing much of the same work that my colleagues in the Advocacy Department perform, which includes researching and communicating with other organizations in Massachusetts that share a mission similar to that of the Coalition’s.
As I navigate my way through a jam-packed summer full of trips to the Massachusetts State House and extensive rides on the commuter rail, I hope to continue to gain valuable experience contributing to the Coalition’s current policy campaigns, including one present campaign to increase FY’16 funding for an important welfare program, EAEDC, that benefits elderly, disabled, and unaccompanied youth populations who are unable to adequately support themselves. Although I have only been with the Coalition for several months, it is very clear to me that these campaigns are crucial to the transformation of policies from proposals to state law. For this reason, interning for the Coalition has proven to be a fulfilling experience. Cheers to the next 2-and-a-half months!
I recently began my internship at Eastern Research Group (ERG), an environmental consulting company headquartered in a woodsy office park in Lexington, MA. Although ERG is headquartered in Lexington, it has seven offices nationwide and coast-to-coast. ERG is made up of approximately 400 employees with a variety of academic backgrounds, from engineering to law, frequently working with and offering expertise to federal agencies on environmental projects. These projects can entail conducting research, assisting with stakeholder outreach, providing technical support and more. Their website offers a summary of past projects!
I will mainly work from the Lexington location, which means my morning drives begin with the humdrum of I-95 traffic, but end with a long stretch of gorgeous green parkland and the occasional turtle and turkey sighting.
My first project is about revamping ERG’s marketing materials for ecosystem restoration projects along the Gulf of Mexico, embattled with environmental challenges stemming from the 2010 BP oil spill and climate change. I will be writing summaries, compiling photos and playing around with formatting for marketing materials for my supervisor to use at a conference later in June. It’s also a great opportunity to learn about ERG’s work as well as environmental efforts in the Gulf coast.
As an intern, I also get to shadow environmental consultants. During my first week, I shadowed a group call between an environmental economist and his team members, who were discussing ways to improve a project about coastal management resources. I also attended a staff meeting during which ERG’s CEO and Founder David Meyers gave a presentation on the company’s business model. It was a very cool way to be introduced to ERG and understand the company’s inner teamwork structure that allows for projects to run smoothly.
Later in the week, I learned about and inputted dummy data for a greenhouse gas emissions calculator tool, which I will be attending the presentation for during the following week in Boston. This nifty tool allows individuals and groups to estimate weekly greenhouse gas contributions during morning commutes. (Sadly, I learned my weekly drives to ERG pump ~80lbs of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere.)
Between intern tasks and shadowing, I was routinely reviewing background materials provided by supervisors in addition to doing my own research to gain context for the projects and the industry. I’m working on familiarizing myself with new terminologies and adjusting to different writing styles and work dynamics. So far, I really appreciate how “hands on” the experience is. It blows my mind to be witnessing the development of environmental projects up close and to be around the minds behind them.
As a rising senior, I envision pursuing a career studying environmental problems and solutions and conveying them to the public in some way. Given how wide-ranging environmental issues are, I see myself working with a diverse group of minds, like scientists and lawyers. Therefore, I felt drawn towards the project-based, multidisciplinary and collaborative format of the consulting work at ERG. After my first week, I felt I had learned a lot about ERG and myself as a worker, and I look forward to even more learning in the coming weeks.
This summer, I am interning at National Consumers League, a non-profit group based in Washington, D.C. that advocates for the rights of workers and consumers. They promote social and economic justice in the U.S. and abroad by tackling a range of issues, from food safety to child labor. Their various public education campaigns and lobbying efforts fight for living wages, protect Americans from scams, and increase medication adherence among diabetic patients. I will be working with the executive director and focusing on projects within the realm of the food policy and health policy departments. Everyone who works at NCL is accomplished, inspiring, and very kind. One of my goals at NCL is to expand my professional network by connecting with co-workers and my co-interns at the NCL. One of my co-interns is working in child labor department and the other two are working with the Public Policy, Fraud and Telecommunications department. I planned an intern lunch to get to know them on my second day and one of my co-workers planned a staff lunch to get to know us. Throughout the week, I’ve enjoyed getting to know my co-workers and becoming friendly with them.
My first day, the head of the Public Policy, Fraud, and Telecommunications department showed me around the office and then we took a trip to Capitol Hill. On “the Hill”, we attended a panel on Internet safety, the first of the 5 panels/briefings I attended this week. As we headed to the event, my new co-worker told me one of the best parts of working at NCL is getting to meet so many people. NCL staff attends many events around DC, to speak at them, lobby congressmen, or receive free food and new knowledge. We checked out the display of drinks and desserts at the event and then my co-worker greeted and introduced me to almost everyone in the room. Although I won’t be working on Internet safety this summer, I was excited to learn more about this line of work and connect with people who work at different organizations and agencies in DC. Cyber security policy representatives from the Department of Homeland Security, Facebook, and Google spoke at the event so I had the opportunity to learn more about how private corporations interact with public agencies and NGOs. Learning about these public-private intersections is crucial to gaining a deeper understanding of how advocacy and policymaking work. Throughout the summer, I plan to explore the field of advocacy and find out if this is what I am interested in pursuing after graduation.
I’m working on various projects that involve researching policies and current issues in the U.S., from “female viagra” to fraud among life insurance companies. I have also helped out with some behind-the-scenes work, including editing a speech delivered at a Trans-Pacific Partnership press conference that I attended the next day and greeting guests at the NCL’s congressional briefing on child labor in tobacco fields. While researching legislation and issues during my internship, I hope to hone the research skills that I’ve developed during my past two years at Brandeis. I hope to come back after the summer with an improved writing ability and a better sense of policy issues. Having more knowledge about the policy environment of U.S. health will be helpful for my work in many of my Health: Science, Society, & Policy and Social Justice & Social Policy courses and for my future career path.
It was a strange, but oddly fulfilling experience walking through the doors of a new University, because while I was still there to learn, I was there to do more than just better myself; I came to make a difference in my local community. Last Tuesday my Internship with the Omaha Farmers Market began with a meeting between two University of Nebraska-Omaha Professors and the President of the coordinating organization for the Farmers Markets, VGA (Vic Gutman & Assoc.). At this meeting the professors laid out a plan for the economic impact study I will be doing in the coming months, where I will be analyzing the impact the farmers market has on the local community. The immediate impression I was given was that it will involve a lot of data collecting through surveys and other means of communication. Beyond that we discussed the models that will be used to analyze the impact the farmers market has on the local community. It was an interesting experience discussing the various aspects of the market that I will be analyzing; while I have studied and researched many of these topics before, I have never actually had the opportunity to put them into practice. I am rather excited to receive a first-hand experience of market analysis, and while my responsibilities involve more data collection and entry than anything else, everyone needs to start somewhere.
Another aspect of my internship that I am eager to begin is the improvement of SNAP at the Omaha Farmers Markets. SNAP, or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as the Food Stamp Program, is available at the Omaha Farmers Markets and the produce vendors on-site are required to participate in the program. My first meeting on improving SNAP at the Farmers Market is scheduled for tomorrow morning; I will be meeting with the President of VGA and the Project Coordinator for the markets to discuss what plans and ideas we have to improve the program.
I have spent a lot time so far doing research about surveys, head-counting, SNAP, impact studies, etc. and so far the tool that has proved invaluable to me is the resource library on the Farmers Market Coalition Website. This database of resources covers every topic that I have needed to learn about thus far such as: SNAP, effective head-counting methods, survey examples, etc., and while it has been my only reference site, it has provided the most useful information I have encountered. One study involving SBIP (SNAP-based Incentive Programs) utilizes research data from over a hundred different markets from across the country, analyzes the various aspects of SNAP at farmers markets and how it can be improved. This document will be rather helpful at my meeting tomorrow.
As far as my ‘site’ goes, there is not one place that I spend a majority of my time for this internship. So far it has involved different meetings around Omaha, some research on my own time and data entry at VGA headquarters. Even though I am suppose to get an office this week, I still do not plan on spending a great deal of time there, because I will be out collecting data from local businesses, spending time on-site at the farmers market, visiting with local community centers to improve SNAP, or a variety of other things. While this may involve a little more work than I was planning on, I prefer it this way; considering my internship is designed to benefit the community it makes sense I would be spending my time working with that community rather than behind a desk.
I believe that as human beings we oftentimes forget or do not realize where we are capable of going; we forget the number of stops we can make, the number of lines we can ride, and where it is we really want to go. For most people, the Beijing subway station is a beginning point, an ending point, or a meeting point. For me, it was a beginning point. I still do not know who I want to become; however I do know the kind of person I want to become. Whatever I do, I want to impact the world and others in a positive way.
Following my senior year of high school, a State Department scholarship allowed me to study Mandarin in Beijing for the 2012-2013 academic year. While I was in Beijing, I went to a local high school where I studied the language alongside other international students. During the week, I stayed in the dorms and every weekend went to my Chinese host family. Living in Beijing allowed me to make greater connections between my past and the present, the place I came from and the place I grew up in, and myself and others. Since coming back from China, I have become passionate about fostering students’ commitment to language learning and their interest in study abroad, as well as, wanting to see a wider range of students study overseas and acquire critical language skills.
This summer, I will be interning with an organization called, One World Now! (OWN). OWN is a non-profit organization, founded in 2002, that promotes global leadership through language learning. In our increasingly interconnected and interdependent world, the organization is dedicated to making language learning and study abroad more accessible to a wider range of America’s youth. The organization targets high school students in the Seattle Public School District (particularly youth who come from low-income families) and offers them language and leadership classes after school. Students can choose between Mandarin Chinese and Arabic, two very critical languages.
At OWN, I will fulfill the duties and responsibilities of a Study Abroad Intern and an Administrative Intern. I will help manage the organization’s internal application processes for its Summer Language and Leadership Camp and study abroad programs. As an Administrative Intern, some of my duties will include tracking expenses, processing receipts, and reporting on spending. So far, I have assisted in managing OWN’s Summer Language and Leadership Camp application process (printing students’ applications, as well as, contacting them to get required documents) and processed receipts.
Through my experience at OWN, I hope to gain insights into non-profit management, marketing and fund development, program management, and international education. In addition, I hope to enhance my knowledge surrounding global issues, particularly in China and Morocco. As an International and Global Studies major, I believe that this knowledge will supplement the politics, anthropology, sociology, and East Asian Studies courses I have already taken towards my undergraduate degree.
As I continue interning at One World Now!, I am very eager to see my work benefit the organization and broader community.
Few are fortunate enough to be able to say that, during their very first semester of college, they were assigned to an “Introduction to Law” discussion session led by a lively, enthusiastic Assistant Attorney General. Even fewer can say that the following summer, with no prior employment experience whatsoever under their belt, they were lucky enough to be given the opportunity to intern in his office under his guidance as well as that of my supervisors and the rest of their equally kind colleagues in the Criminal Bureau of the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office (AGO) in Boston. I am thus humbled by this chance to serve the Commonwealth and to explore this prospective career path, and these first two weeks in the office have not disappointed.
I have always been inexplicably drawn to the practice of law. Though my interest in legal issues was already very developed in high school, it naturally became more acute during my two semesters at Brandeis. Thanks to Brandeis’ unique opportunities to pursue an interdisciplinary curriculum, I began to see legal dilemmas through the lens of gender, race, culture, sexual orientation, and all the societally-defined categories which shape how different citizens experience the law, and developed a thirst for developing this more socially aware perspective of common law. For this reason, I could not have been more fortunate for this opportunity to work under this particular Attorney General (AG).
Attorney General Maura Healey
I could not be more inspired by the principles upon which AG Maura Healey serves her state. She is invested in many new policies which I admire such as fighting drug addiction with increased treatment and reduced incarceration as well as increasing sex education and women’s rights, but I am most stirred to action by her work in her preceding position as the Chief of the Civil Rights Division of the AGO. Ms. Healey fronted the Commonwealth’s challenge to DOMA, the Defense of Marriage Act, successfully leading the arguments which came to be the first to strike down the law and ensure equal marriage rights for all. I hope to one day emulate Maura Healey’s levelheaded potency when confronting whatever poignant civil rights cases I am faced with as a lawyer.
However, for now, I must concentrate on the tasks at hand in my current position, and am thrilled to be doing so. My internship is unique in that I serve not one division of an AGO bureau but rather the entire Criminal Bureau, and I am thus able to collaborate with dozens of lawyers, financial investigators, paralegals, etc. This ensures that I will be able to dabble in many different kinds of projects and determine my passions, strengths and weaknesses both within the field of law and outside it. Everyone I have met has amicably invited me to pop into his or her office any time to ask questions or to just chat, and this opportunity for office-wide connection has exposed me to a wide range of projects. These assignments include researching suspects, unearthing the evidence behind still secret financial scandals, and, most importantly to me, contributing to the state’s human trafficking awareness and training expansion efforts.
In essence, I hope to gain real world, legal experience while working diligently in whatever task is assigned to me in order to serve the office and the Commonwealth to the best of my abilities this summer, and it seems as though, in this friendly, dedicated, hardworking office, that won’t be too hard!
On April 13, 2003, having served over 19 years in prison for a crime he did not commit, Dennis Maher walked out of Bridgewater Treatment Center a free man. A victim of eyewitness misidentification, Maher was convicted of several accounts of sexual assault for a series of attacks on young women in Massachusetts during the Fall of 1983. However, having maintained his innocence for nearly two decades, Maher eventually caught the attention of the New England Innocence Project, who utilized newly discovered DNA evidence found in 2001 to bring about his exoneration several years later.
In the decade since his exoneration, Maher has proven to be one of the most inspirational individuals out there. Maher has not only accomplished his goals of finding a job, a wife, having kids, and buying a house within a decade of his release, but has regularly donated his own time and resources to aiding other exonerees in their transition back into society.
Meeting Maher one of my first days at the New England Innocence Project (NEIP) inspired a passion in me that has only grown since. In the short five months I have worked there, NEIP has become as much a part of me as anything else important in my life. NEIP is a non-profit organization that provides pro-bono legal assistance to individuals who have been wrongfully convicted of a crime in one of the six New England States. Since its founding in 2000, NEIP has exonerated a total of 51 wrongfully convicted individuals and counting. At NEIP we work with applicants every day to find the next individual who might’ve slipped through the cracks of the criminal justice system.
This summer at NEIP, I serve as the intake intern. I receive all non-administrative correspondence that enters the organization. On a daily basis, I receive and respond to letters from inmates, emails from their families, and phone calls from attorneys in order to advance applicants through the case review process into the eventual stages of litigation. In addition, I organize meetings for the staff to determine viable applicants, and work with the legal interns to gather all essential case documents. In effect, I serve as the voice of NEIP to guide inmates throughout the screening process, providing a liaison between the staff and the applicants.
Throughout my summer at NEIP, I have several goals which I would like to achieve. Firstly, I hope to gain hands on experience in the legal profession. With NEIP, I have the opportunity to not only learn from law students, staff, and paralegals, but through communication with attorneys, clients, and law enforcement. This is a unique opportunity to be immersed in the legal world at an young age. Secondly, through NEIP I hope to learn more about the criminal justice system through my interaction with the case review process. By reading trial transcripts, post-conviction opinions, and appellate briefs, I hope to gain a more comprehensive understanding of the criminal courts throughout New England. Lastly, through NEIP, I hope to improve the lives of those who have witnessed their lives torn apart by the pain of wrongful convictions. In my correspondence with inmates and their families, I want to leave the impression that whatever they have gone through, they are not alone in this process. All in all, I am honored to work with NEIP, and I look forward to getting more involved.
On June 1st, 2015, I started my first week interning at AIDS Action Committee (AAC) in Boston, MA. AAC is a non-profit organization that was founded in 1983. AAC is New England’s largest AIDS service organization and aims to prevent new infections, support those infected with HIV/AIDS, and address the root causes of HIV/AIDS. AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts advocates at the city, state, and federal levels for fair AIDS policies and also hosts HIV prevention programs and health services for people living with HIV. Some of AAC’s programs include HIV counseling and testing, mental health counseling, a needle exchange program, a housing program, a health library, client advocacy and case management, and more. Learn more about AAC here.
At AAC, I am working as an intern in the Housing Search and Advocacy department as a Housing Search Associate. It is my responsibility to research affordable housing options available to AAC’s clients. I call housing managers to help update AAC’s affordable housing database for its clients. Later in my internship, I will start to provide direct service to clients by helping to lead housing search groups, and I will also work individually with clients who may have low literacy or speak English as a second language to help educate them on the housing options that they have available to them.
For my internship, I have different academic, career, and personal goals. An academic goal is to be able to use information that I have learned in my public health classes to further examine the health disparities that my clients at AAC face. I want to be able to think deeply and critically about possible policy recommendations that could be developed and implemented to help alleviate some of the issues that people with HIV/AIDS face when trying to access safe and affordable housing.
One career goal is to learn how to best educate and advocate for people living with HIV/AIDS and other chronic illnesses. In my future health career, I will work with patients who have illnesses such as HIV/AIDS, and I want to learn more about some of the biggest problems that these people face on a daily basis so that I can get a sense of how to best cater to their needs. Health care providers and educators often treat the patient’s disease, but forget that the individual is more than just their illness and that there are psychological, emotional, and social factors that contribute to one’s experience of illness. I hope that some of the testimonies that I hear over the summer will help shape me into becoming a more culturally competent future health care provider.
A personal goal is to learn more about real estate and the housing market. My internship entails being able to navigate the housing system by talking to and negotiating with property realtors and housing managers. Through this difficult task, I want to learn more about the housing market and how to get the best deals, as this would be a useful skill to have for the future when I want to buy or rent my own house or apartment. I look forward to the rest of my time here at AAC and I am very excited to learn more about HIV/AIDS advocacy.
VocaliD, Inc. holds a very modern place in the business world. There is some amount of trouble capturing the operation in a succinct way, because paramount to VocaliD’s service to the augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) community is the data gathered from voice donors. The term “Socially-Oriented Company” has been getting thrown around more and more recently, and it is the most apt description of VocaliD’s nature, taking donated voices and using data from them to create ones for others in need.
The office is located on the third floor of the old firehouse in downtown Belmont, with a Pilates studio directly below and an Italian restaurant at street level. I love the location. There are plenty of places to grab good food for lunch, and the Fitchburg line station is a short walk away. On cooler mornings I bike in, which takes under a half hour.
I’ve been working alongside Rupal, the founder of the company, who is very easy to work with and a great supervisor. Most of my time this first week has been spent doing what I fully expected to be doing: examining, annotating, and editing speech data, in order to prepare it for the morphing algorithm VocaliD uses to create voices. However, we also launched a crowdfunding project on Indiegogo this week, and a lot of work went into designing and revising the campaign. I’ve also been writing portions of the various outreach emails that go out as part of the campaign and VocaliD’s business as usual. Going forward, tasks like these will continue to be part of my responsibilities this summer, so it looks like this internship will be getting me some interesting communications experience, from marketing to end users to forging relationships with other AAC companies.
If this week has been any indication of how the rest of the summer will be, then interning at VocaliD will be an incredible way of satisfying my WOW goals. I have the opportunity to work in a field that bridges signal processing and phonetics, two things I am familiar with from my two majors; I’m getting exposed to audio programming and code writing in a vocational setting, helping me to gain an understanding of programming and its place in computational linguistics; and VocaliD’s work presents a major, tangible service to those whose voices literally aren’t heard, and so I’m helping to eliminate inequalities faced daily by the AAC community.
Lastly, I’d like to talk about the logo and how well designed and appropriate it is, in addition to being tasteful and in line with current graphic design sensibilities.
At first glance, it’s a “V”, standing for all things vocal. Upon closer looking, the overall shape of the V is remarkably similar to that of human vocal folds. The graphic also consists visually of a small V inside a larger one, representing the way VocaliD blends just a few seconds of vocalization from a recipient along with several hours of donor speech to create the final product. The way in which these are overlaid, with alternating horizontal lines, is also very similar to the way waveforms of human vowels look, with secondary peaks and troughs layered inside.
The logo has a whole lot of symbolism and information packed into it. It was partially designed by the founder herself, which is a great example of the interdisciplinary atmosphere of the whole team. This will, after all, be quite an interdisciplinary summer.
Monday morning was almost as frantic (if not more) than my first day at Brandeis. I am not an experienced subway-rider, so figuring out which direction the train I was told to take actually goes in was a challenge; let’s just say it’s a good thing I left 45 minutes early! Luckily I arrived early to Lawyers For Children, where I will be spending the majority of my time throughout the next nine weeks. I’d always dreamed of living in New York City, but to be able to live in New York City and do work that I’m passionate about, I couldn’t have asked for more! Before coming to college I knew I was interested in psychology and wanted to pursue a career in which I am able to help people, but I had no idea which direction that goal would take me. A mixture of psychology, sociology, and legal studies courses I’ve taken at Brandeis lead me to aspire to go into law, but with a desire to advocate for those whose voices may not be as strongly heard.
This is the corner of where my office is located. Photo belonging to kurokatta.org
Since I was little, I’ve loved solving mysteries; putting together the pieces of a puzzle. Law allows me to continue that passion. I have to gather my evidence, establish the rule, and present my case. Social work adds a both meaningful and challenging component to that hobby. I never envisioned myself in social work, until interning last summer at a nonprofit that helps low-income and impoverished adults obtain housing, jobs, resources for their family, whatever it may be based on a particular individual’s needs. Before that experience, I never realized how difficult of a challenge it was to navigate (internally) the various governmental institutions that are supposed to help those in need. Who knew it was actually extremely difficult to acquire the benefits that the government rightfully owes you? With this work came immense challenges, however the reward, when achieved, is immeasurable. That’s when I knew, law with an emphasis on public service was my true calling.
That discovery lead me to Lawyers For Children: a legal firm that provides free legal and social work services to children in foster care. Lawyers For Children is unique from other organizations in that an attorney as well as a social worker is assigned to every child, ensuring that each child get the best, most effective and integrative representation and advocacy possible. Attorneys and social workers are trained differently, and therefore have different insights and perspectives to offer on each case, and you know what they say, two heads are always better than one. LFC mostly handles cases of voluntary placement: instances where parents voluntarily place their children into the system, not where the child was removed from the home against their will. To get a better understanding of what that looks like, read this New York times article: http://www.nytimes.com/2000/09/01/nyregion/despondent-parents-see-foster-care-as-only-option.html
I am a social work intern at LFC and will shadow a social worker (as well as various LFC attorneys) to get a better understanding of how the two professions come together in the field of child advocacy. I will attend meetings between various agencies working with a specific child, make field visits to their respective placements, attend those children’s cases in court, assist in writing up the result of those meetings, field visits, and court cases, and assist with generating plans-of-action and connecting children with further resources to best help them achieve their goals. Lawyers For Children prides itself on its focus on really listening to the child, thereby providing them with a space where they feel safe and respected. LFC also aims to advocate and educate the public about the many difficulties several groups, such as LGBTQ youth in foster care face. This article by the Wall Street Journal highlights the added difficulties experienced by LGBTQ youth, specially in foster care: http://www.wsj.com/articles/counting-new-yorks-gay-and-transgender-youths-in-foster-care-1433550187
New York County Family Court. Photo by Mark Fader
This summer, I hope to learn more about the interaction between law and social work and what sort of balance between the two produces the best results when working with underprivileged populations and to gain experience in a legal/social work setting that advocates for human rights and social justice. Finally, I hope to gain a better understanding of how the social issues that several minority groups face, like the foster-care population, effect youth in large cities like New York City.
The American Enterprise Institute (AEI) is a not-for-profit think tank that was founded in 1938. Scholars at AEI serve leaders and the public through research and education on several important fronts, including economics, foreign affairs and domestic issues. AEI’s mission is to expand liberty, increase individual opportunity and strengthen free enterprise through debate, reasoned argument and research. AEI’s long history is only one of the many reasons why I was so nervous to walk through the doors on Monday morning.
I have never really been an intern before. I have always had multiple jobs, however, I find the word ‘internship’ particularly nerve-wracking. So, on my walk over, I made sure to take in the sights of D.C. in order to calm my nerves. I had never been to D.C. before this week and, on that first day, the city felt huge and intimidating. AEI’s office is located at 17th and M Street, which means the walk from my apartment is about 15 minutes long. On my commute, I have found that it is equally fascinating to watch the people as it is to survey the architecture. It seems like every type of person in the world may find him or herself in Washington. There is so much to do here, and I am quite excited by the prospect of it all.
Now that a week has passed, and I have had the opportunity to reflect, the word ‘internship’ seems a little less scary, and the city itself seems a little less big. On that very first day I walked into a room of interns, strangers from across the globe, all filled with trepidation. Over the course of a week, a sense of camaraderie has formed, and the anxiety has faded away as we have settled into our roles.
I attribute a large part of my new-found comfort to the warmth of the digital strategy team. It has only been a week and I have already had training sessions in everything from Photoshop to Google Analytics. I feel as if I am learning real skills that will benefit me in the future. The team’s guidance has also allowed me to get started working on the various digital platforms at AEI. I am sure that the hands-on experience I am gaining will prove invaluable.
In addition to this training and the work itself that I am happily doing, AEI has already proven to be an amazing place to work. This week alone I was taken to lunch by the digital strategy team and all of AEI attended the Nationals vs. Cubs baseball game—in matching t-shirts, of course! So far, I am having a great time at my internship. I cannot wait to see what the rest of the summer will have in store.
Six months ago, if you had asked me what my plans were for the summer, I would’ve answered very simply, “To make some money.” But my focus shifted completely when I saw an internship posting for the Social Innovation Forum: this internship would be a chance to try out my dream job of working at a foundation. SIF acts as a bridge between nonprofits and funders. Through a two-year program, SIF works with a group of innovative nonprofits (“social innovators”) to help them establish connections, gain funding, develop their leadership, and maximize their social impact.
Ever since I took a course on Social Justice and Philanthropy (sponsored by the Sillerman Center), I have been fascinated by the idea of “effective giving.” The course taught me that identical amounts of money can have drastically different effects on social change when spent in different methods, and I became interested in the analysis that goes into an allocation decision. My internship with the Social Innovation Forum is an incredible opportunity to learn about the skills and tools used to measure social impact.
My first week at SIF has flown by. I arrived at an exciting time: SIF has just opened nominations for the next group of social innovators, officially launching the six-month selection process. At the same time, the “impact entrepreneurs” are wrapping up their twelve-week program. Impact entrepreneurs are for-profit businesses that have a positive social impact and their twelve-week program is a crash course on business development that allows them to get their feet off the ground. Just a few days into my internship, I got to witness the culmination of their work: an Impact Showcase where each business pitched their model to SIF’s investing community. The groups were inspiring, combining innovative ideas with a passion for improving the world. Whether or not my future career lies in the non-profit sector, it was exciting to see how private, for-profit companies can do their part for the betterment of society.
Since so much has been happening, I’ve had the chance to see a wide variety of my coming responsibilities, including database management, event preparation, and research. Everyone at SIF has been incredibly welcoming, showing me the ropes and making me feel comfortable within the office. I’m lucky to be working alongside an incredibly capable intern who has mastered all of the ins and outs of the job, and has been an amazing teacher. I hope that by the end of my time here, I can feel as comfortable with all of the procedures as she does. If nothing else, I expect to leave SIF with innumerable skills applicable to any office environment.
Throughout the summer, I will be sorting through innovator nominations, researching nonprofits that could be a good fit for SIF, and assisting in day-to-day office operations. I can’t wait to keep diving into this internship, and I have no doubts that it will be a great summer!
My internship abroad has thankfully taken off smoothly and my first week at Hospital Pablo Arturo Suarez has been an incredible learning experience so far.
Pablo Arturo Suarez is a public hospital located in the north end of Quito, Ecuador. The significance of this hospital is the fact that it is indeed public and therefore many people from all over Quito and the surrounding areas come if they cannot afford private healthcare. Most of these public medical institutions are highly understaffed due to the shear amount of people that are constantly coming in and out. The mission of the hospital is to promote quality care by educating patients on the necessity of preventible care, recovery, and rehabilitation of all peoples regardless of status or ethnicity. This dedication to social justice in Latin America really inspires me to pursue learning about the injustices of the health care systems both internationally and at home-in America. If interested in knowing more about the hospital and all of the departments it offers, you can click here.
One of my goals this summer is to observe the Ecuadorian healthcare system, and to compare and contrast this system to the United States healthcare system. An important cultural aspect in Quito which is very unique, is the presence of an indigenous population(s). Many peoples seek healthcare from these public institutions; Pablo Arturo Suarez has made a point to label most signs in the native language. This brings up an issue that is often faced in America: cultural and language barriers and their effects on quality care. I hope to understand how doctors in Ecuador try to effectively communicate and explain certain treatments while ensuring the understanding of all patients. The indigenous population still very much treasures traditional and alternative medicine and it will be interesting to see how this coexists in a very modern city. If you are interested in Ecuadorian culture and the synthesis of peoples who live here I recommend visiting this site which gives some historical background.
Another goal for the summer is to become fluent in Spanish medical terminology and gain confidence in effectively communicating to Spanish speakers in regards to their health and treatment. As mentioned before, language barriers can cause detrimental effects on patients. In the United States, the second most spoken language is Spanish. I felt that as someone pursuing the medical field I should be bilingual-if not more- in order to be able to give the best care possible.
As far as my duties go at the hospital, I generally assist in places that are understaffed and undertake projects of the day that need to be done. This includes taking patients vital signs, assisting doctors during procedures and surgeries, and organizing paperwork. I will hopefully get a well-rounded view of the way a public hospital runs in Ecuador and how a healthcare system works as whole.
After arriving at Louis Armstrong New Orlean’s International Airport, a nice warm humid hug welcomed me into New Orleans. This warm embrace was the beginning of many as I met so many warm souls all over New Orleans and at my internship site, New Orleans Video Access Center (NOVAC). Located near the Mississippi River, NOVAC was started by a group of AmeriCorps VISTA fellows who wanted to see an organization in New Orleans that fostered the creation of socially conscious independent films. Although NOVAC’s mission has evolved over the years, NOVAC still provides New Orleans’ filmmakers with workshops and the resources necessary to create their own idiosyncratic pieces. Aside from aiding the independent filmmaking community, NOVAC connects New Orleans’ youth with people in the film industry and NOVAC also allow these teenagers to enhance their visual storytelling skills, whether through NOVAC’s digital storytelling camps or through their new exclusive HBO/Cinemax Quarry internship program that gives 15 local teenagers the opportunity to work on the set of Cinemax’s new series, Quarry, for three weeks!
If my first week at NOVAC is any indication of the work that I will accomplish this summer, then I know I am going to return to Brandeis in the fall equipped with advanced editing and design skills and an appreciation for community-based film projects. As junior year approaches, I worry about potentially leaving Brandeis without the technical skills necessary to enter the film industry. In the past couple of days, I have been developing my design skills by creating promotional materials for NOVAC’s sponsored documentaries. Documentaries under NOVAC’s fiscal sponsorship program can use NOVAC’s non-profit status to apply to more grants and to appeal to individual donors. As an incentive, individual donors will receive a tax reduction if they donate to film projects under this program. Raising money for film projects can be a troublesome task for independent filmmakers, since they usually don’t receive support from entertainment conglomerates. This past week I created website banners for two documentaries and one film in NOVAC’s fiscal sponsorship program: Flotsam; Battlefield: Home; and Easy Does It. Since this was my first summer project for NOVAC, I was eager to display my creativity. However I was also scared of not meeting their expectations. My resourceful and encouraging supervisors were there to guide me through my first assignment and my anxiety soon went away. As I was creating these banners, I gained a more in-depth understanding of NOVAC’s sponsored projects and I was inspired by the way these filmmakers were using film to ask questions about their environment, society, or an issue that they feel is underrepresented in the media. For example, Flotsam is a documentary that looks past the common depictions of Mardi Gras as a glorious celebration to reveal the amount of debris left behind when everyone grabs their beads and leaves the party. Flotsam just unleashed my thirst for finding new content that questions the things that I look past.
Flotsam and NOVAC’s sponsored projects allow me to peek behind the curtain and discover the ways our local filmmakers are engaging with their community to raise awareness about their concerns. Soon, I will start converting videos in NOVAC’s archive to a digital format. After we digitize the videos, they will be available online for the public to access. NOVAC’s video archive managed to survive Hurricane Katrina but through NOVAC’s digital preservation efforts, NOVAC’s archive will be safe from New Orleans’ next natural catastrophe. Their archive encompasses over 40 years of original content produced by NOVAC and its affiliates. Recently, NOVAC digitized a video produced during one of their workshops in the late 80s that focused on the struggles battered women face. The video is called, Ain’t Nobody’s Business, and it displays the testimonies of women that were victims of domestic abuse. Although this video was created several decades ago, these stories are congruent to the stories told by women affected by domestic violence today.
Aside from cultivating my interest in visual storytelling, NOVAC allows me to meet with so many talented people in the film industry, like my supervisor, Biliana Grozdanova, who recently screened her film, The Last Kamikazes of Heavy Metal, at New Orleans Film Festival and just returned from Cannes Film Festival (as a volunteer). Hopefully, I will continue to meet more people like my supervisor through the many workshops NOVAC offers throughout the summer. By the end of the summer, I want to increase my editing and design skills and uncover more analog videos that are still prevalent today. I also want to produce my own material for NOVAC’s Virtuous Video program. Through this program, community organizations partner with local filmmakers to create videos that highlight their mission and their contributions to their community. Since this year is the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, NOVAC partnered with the Greater New Orleans Foundation to involve New Orleans’ youth with the Virtuous Video Program. This fusion gave birth to Project 10: a digital storytelling undertaking that asks New Orleans community members and organizations about their thoughts on the city’s development after Hurricane Katrina. I am currently researching and watching Hurricane Katrina documentaries to prepare myself for the next component of my internship, but you will find out more about that in my next blog post!
My first week as an intern at Legal Outreach, Inc., in Long Island City, New York has been been filled with exciting and important work and interaction with many incredible individuals. Legal Outreach, Inc., is a legal education non-profit organization that has been successfully teaching and preparing urban youth from underserved communities all over New York City since 1983. The organization does so through its various college preparatory programs, many of which emphasize the law and developing an understanding and appreciation of the legal system. The program that I will specifically be working with is the Summer Law Institute (SLI).
Legal Outreach’s SLI is held in partnership with six different law schools in New York City from the end of June to the end of July. In each law school, there are about 22-30 rising ninth graders who were selected from a pool of applicants for this program. At each law school where the SLI is held, there are two co-coordinators who are current law school students and an intern. Together, these three are the instructors for each SLI and are responsible for teaching the students and managing their SLI.
At SLI, students are engaged in a criminal justice legal course and gain an understanding of the legal system and how laws are applied. Almost every day of the week, there is a guest attorney speaker and weekly field trips to law firms and other legal sites. At the end of the program is a mock trial competition which takes place in front of a real judge. The aim of SLI is to help these students grow academically and personally to give them the confidence and skills for success in high school, college, and beyond.
My main responsibilities as the SLI intern at Columbia Law School include both administrative duties, to ensure that the program runs smoothly, and teaching lessons. The administrative duties include preparing handbooks and ID cards for the students, inviting the guest speakers, ensuring that parents and students complete necessary forms, and booking field trips. This is all to make sure that the technical and structural aspects of the program are intact, so that in the end of June when SLI commences, everything is ready.
My teaching responsibilities include developing four lesson plans that will be presented to the students during SLI. The first two will be on study skills and essay writing, which will be useful for the students in studying for their weekly exams and writing their assigned essays. Since part of the purpose of the program is to prepare these students for high school, these skills will be particularly important and assist them in achieving academic excellence.
Through my administrative and teaching responsibilities, I will play an important role in making sure that the SLI runs smoothly so that the students get the most out of the program. I will also, through my role, be able to accomplish the learning goals I had set coming into this internship. For example, through the training exercises and meetings we have been doing, as well as through actually teaching the lessons later on, I will be able to develop stronger communication and public speaking skills. At the same time, through my administrative duties, I will improve my research and writing skills as I communicate with potential guest speakers and develop lesson plans. Likewise, by working in a legal environment with colleagues who are in law school and supervisors who are attorneys, I have the unique opportunity to further explore my interest in having a career in the legal field. I look forward to the days to come and for the SLI to begin.
Today marks the end of my first full week as an intern at the Harvard Semitic Museum in Cambridge, MA (free admission!). The museum gets its name from its focus on the Ancient Near East, which was inhabited mostly by Semitic-speaking cultures. Semitic languages include languages spoken today, such as Hebrew and Arabic, but also include some ancient languages that are no longer spoken, such as Akkadian, which was the lingua franca for much of Ancient Near Eastern history.
The museum’s collection includes many cuneiform clay tablets, pottery, other archaeological finds, and a full scale model of a typical Ancient Israelite four-room-house. The Semitic Museum also has an impressive collection of plaster casts of Ancient Near Eastern monumental stone inscriptions and wall reliefs. Among the casts that the museum has on display are the Code of Hammurabi, an 18th century BCE Babylonian law code, and the Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser III, which displays a king of Israel bowing to Shalmaneser.
Most of my work at the museum will be put towards two long-term projects. The first, which I am working on with another intern, is to systematically go through storage cabinets, and record the items and their locations. We are currently going through artifacts that were found during archaeological excavation at Nuzi, a site in North Eastern Iraq. Nuzi was a provincial capital under Hurrian rule during the 15th and 14th centuries BCE, and that is when these artifacts are from.
My other primary focus will be working to catalog and organize archival materials that belonged or where related to Theresa Goell, an archaeologist who did a lot of work in the 1950s. Goell excavated sites in modern Turkey, including the sites of Tarsus, Nemrud Dagh, and Samsat. The files need to be organized and documented, in order for them to be properly stored, and easily accessible. Currently, I am working through maps, plans, charts, and other materials related to Nemrud Dagh, which is a mountain site that was probably a royal tomb built for King Antiochus of Commagene.
My main goal for this internship is to learn through hands-on experience. This is not something that I can easily do at Brandeis when I am learning Ancient Near Eastern history through lectures and readings. Handling ancient objects, and even more modern works – such as Goell’s maps, plans, and diagrams – will expose me to more tangible aspects of archaeology, history, and the Ancient Near East. I hope to gain a new and intimate appreciation and understanding of what life was like for people living in the Ancient Near Eastern world–what sites did they see, how their pottery looked and felt in their hands…
My internship thankfully started smoothly and without much trepidation because I will be spending my summer working at an institution that I am already familiar with – The Rose Art Museum.
Photograph by Mike Lovett.
The Rose is a university museum located on Brandeis’ campus that specializes in post-war contemporary art. A key part of its stated mission is to affirm and advance “the values of freedom of expression, academic excellence, global diversity, and social justice that are the hallmarks of Brandeis University.” This dedication to social justice and engagement with making the museum more accessible is the reason I was able to work with museum staff to craft an internship that would help do just that.
I hope to provide a way for people who are unable to visit the museum physically to explore the museum space virtually. I will do this by first modeling two galleries of the museum in 3D using a program called Blender. If you would like to take a peek at what this might eventually look like, here is a picture of a draft I created for a class called 3D Animation.
Later I will be recreating sculptures that will be on view at the Rose in the future. The finished models of the sculptures will be 3D printed at the MakerLab, which is a space in the Brandeis library that encourages creation and the use of new technology and new ways of making. The printed replicas of the works of art will allow people who are sight impaired to touch them and experience the art in a different way. Some other institutions have also been engaging in a similar practice. For example, there is currently an exhibit in Madrid called “Touching the Prado”, which is made up of famous paintings recreated in relief so that they can be experienced through touch. To read more about the exhibit you can take a look at this New York Times article about it.
A visitor experiencing in relief a copy of the “Mona Lisa” at the Prado. Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images
Finally, once I have both the galleries and the art works mapped in virtual space, I will then work on discovering productive ways to translate this project to an online format that would allow virtual visitors to walk around and explore. This portion of my work will continue into the school year in the form of an Independent Study in the Computer Science Department.
By working on this project I will be making the museum accessible both to people who previously were unable to touch any of the work and to people could not physically visit the museum. I hope that by the end of the summer I will have all of the modeling done and that I will be well on my way to learning new ways that the model might live online.
Through this internship and project I will also be combining two of my main passions – art history and computer science. This is a really unique and instrumental moment in my career development because so few other places provide opportunities to students to combine these two fields. I am really grateful that I have a chance to do this work!
The Rhode Island Foundation (http://www.rifoundation.org), founded in 1916, has a rich legacy. It is one of the nation’s oldest and largest community foundations. The foundation serves multiple initiatives in Rhode Island, which range from learning in public schools to off-shore wind energy development, patient-centered medical home, high-tech workforce development…etc (http://www.rifoundation.org/InsidetheFoundation/OurBlog.aspx). It is Rhode Island’s only community foundation and the largest funder of Rhode Island’s nonprofit sector. In 2014, the Foundation made grants of more than $40 million to organizations addressing the state’s most pressing issues and needs.
As I walked into the Foundation on the first day of my internship, I could not shake feelings of nervousness and a sense that I had gotten myself into work that was over my head. However, when my supervisor, Alison, approached me with an outstretched hand and a warm smile, I immediately started to feel at ease. Alison showed me to an office she had set up for me to work. I had an email and Google calendar set up already and was told me to check it immediately, as I was scheduled to be in several meetings throughout my first week. During the meetings, I was greeted by the Foundation’s team and learned about the projects I would be assisting on this summer.
Throughout the summer, I will be researching possible grant opportunities for the Foundation. The Foundation is partnering with the State of Rhode Island for their centennial celebration and I am helping to formulate research for the celebration. In addition, I will be researching some of the Foundation’s signature initiatives such as educational success, economic security, healthy living and inspiring philanthropy. The development and data and operations teams I am working under are welcoming and supportive of my learning goals. I trust that I will be able to reach my goals of applying my classroom knowledge of philanthropy, creating new professional networks and sharpening my analytical skills. I cannot wait to keep you posted!