As I am finishing up my sixth week interning for the Omaha Farmer’s Market, I wonder where the time has gone. Working with the market to conduct an economic impact study and improve the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program has seemed to consume life lately. SNAP at the Omaha Farmers’ Markets is gaining more attention every week, in fact it made the front page of the money section of the Omaha World Herald last week. And this weekend I begin to get more hands-on with the impact study when I conduct a population count of the markets at Aksarben Village and the Old Market. Seeing the progress I have made toward achieving my goals in the workplace has been more of a rewarding experience than I expected.
The last few weeks have been markedly different than my life at Brandeis; working with people from a variety of age groups or having to commute to work seem like some obvious differences. A not so obvious aspect that I have noticed recently is the feeling of being part of something bigger than myself. While being a student does involve working with peers and helping others, the results are not often as visible and can sometimes be discouraging. With this internship however, I’ve found being part of an organization that seeks to improve the lives of others and doing work that affects more than just yourself to be a motivating factor in my day to day activities.
One aspect of my work that has been not that different from my academic life is the amount of research I have done so far. A lot of my time has been consumed by reading market evaluations and conversing with other markets about SNAP via email, which in turn has made me well-informed about SNAP and the methods other markets have used to make it successful. It has not been just research and emails, however. There have been obstacles that I have learned to overcome, most prominently with the Economic Impact Study portion of my internship. The study was initially going to be conducted by collecting revenue data from businesses local to the markets and compare them to similar businesses that did not have a Farmer’s Market. While it seemed like a good plan on paper, I quickly found out that businesses are not too keen on giving out that kind of information. This forced me to find an alternative way of measuring the economic impact of the markets, so I decided to get the data from the market customers rather than the businesses. This led me to marketumbrella.org, which provided me with the tools to accomplish the impact study using non-intrusive and efficient methods. While I did not anticipate this sort of dilemma in my internship, it has prepared me to deal with unforeseen consequences that I will face in my career after Brandeis.
– Luke Bredensteiner