I had a fantastic experience at The Center for Ethics and Advocacy in Techny Illinois, a northern suburb of Chicago. It was a big risk to fly across the country and intern at a nonprofit I’d previously never heard of and in a town I’d also never heard of. Luckily, it turned out to be a life changing summer and I couldn’t be happier with the results.
There were things I learned at The Center that I couldn’t have learned anywhere else. For instance, working in the office every day helped me learn the day-to-day tasks that needed to be done in the morning and then in the afternoon, when we left. Checking the mail, email, banking account balances, printing articles we needed for the next day, and using the scanner and photocopier are just a few of the many daily tasks we interns learned to do, very quickly. In other words, I know how the office operates and what the employees have to do to keep it running. Since I know how this nonprofit operates, I’ll have a better idea of how others might operate if I decide to go into the world of nonprofit management. Some of the same skills will be required and what I’ll already have experience from this internship which will help me navigate the new job.
During my internship at The Center, I also learned how to communicate effectively with my fellow coworkers, complete my assignments on time under tight deadlines, and compose myself professionally at all times. This experience will help me at Brandeis and beyond, for instance, when I work in the Admissions office and at my (future!) job after graduation. One cannot have enough experience working in a professional setting because it will always come in handy.
After this internship, I want to continue learning about the current healthcare system in the United States and how the newly upheld Affordable Care Act will affect not only other American’s lives, but my life as well. I want to explore how this new law will change America’s health system – for the better or worse – and how people will react to this change. The future is wide open and it’ll be exciting to see where it takes us!
If someone were seeking advice about my internship, I would say the following. Do it if you’re interested in the following topics: local healthcare, global healthcare, healthcare ethics, bioethics, social work in a medical setting, nonprofit management, or patient advocacy. If any of these topics resonated, I would definitely suggest applying for this particular internship. Also, the prospective intern must be willing to work in a small office. Working in the nonprofit world is hard but very rewarding. The current economic climate is not the best right now, hence many nonprofits, especially small ones, are penny pinching, which is stressful; however, the work is very rewarding and I can see how the work I did helped the nonprofit stay in existence, a very special takeaway.
This internship opened up my eyes to how much everyday people suffer these days when a medical catastrophe strikes and they cannot afford health insurance. I’ve talked with these individuals myself. I grew up completely blind to the healthcare costs my parents incurred because luckily we have insurance from my dad’s job. Hearing people’s stories and struggling to help them find a solution was a growth experience and taught me to never take anything for granted – including good health. If I end up working for a nonprofit, I might get a few raised eyebrows because of the presupposed pay rate, but what I’d be doing at the nonprofit I would be immensely proud of. I would be proud to advertise myself as a nonprofit worker because the one I would work for would align with my own interests, passions and philosophies. I would be making visible change in the community and be very happy doing it.
Here is a link to a Chicago Health Poverty Law Center. We talked with one of the lawyers who is very well-known in the Chicago area for helping people with lower incomes and their healthcare rights: http://povertylaw.org/index.php?q=advocacy/health/
At the internship, I also learned a lot about free clinics in the Chicago area and how important they are in helping people who have no health insurance. Community Health is the largest free clinic in the Chicago area! http://www.communityhealth.org/
– Emily Breitbart ’13