A Postcard From: Kamara Simms ’19

Black Cultural Archives: This is the exterior of the building, which has interactive artwork celebrating important Black British figures.

Name: Kamara Simms
Class Year: 2019
Major: English
Minor: Africana Studies
Hometown: London, United Kingdom
Internship Placement: Black Cultural Archives
Job Title: Exhibition Guide
Location: London, United Kingdom

What’s happening at your internship? 

My internship has been very research-focused, and I have had the opportunity to research some incredible people and topics pertaining to Black British history. I’ve spent much of my time in the reading room and archives, satiating my want to know more about the history of Black people in my country. I have used my research to assist Black Cultural Archives’ marketing manager in promoting BCA through social media and their website. I’ve also worked very closely with BCA’s “Black Sound” exhibition, which showcases a timeline of Black British music and pays homage to its legacy and impact. I’ve created databases, contacted influential artists and conducted interviews. Furthermore, I’ve had the opportunity to experience the community that BCA fosters through working in the café and attending their evening events and themed days. My favourite has been “The Poet’s Corner,” which is their spoken word event hosted every Wednesday evening.

Windrush Square, just outside of Black Cultural Archives: In this photo, I am standing in front of the newly established memorial honouring Caribbeans and Africans who fought for the British Commonwealth during World War I and World War II.

Why did you apply for this internship?

I am very interested in identity politics pertaining to race, and I wanted to learn more about Black British history. Academically, my work lies in identity politics and literature of the African diaspora, and I am a firm believer that one cannot navigate the process of conceptualising and understanding blackness without first understanding the history of black people. As such, volunteering at the Black Cultural Archives, the UK’s first dedicated Black heritage centre, seemed like an excellent way to spend my summer.

What has been your favorite part of this internship?

My favourite part of this internship has been researching the extensive archive collection of Black British history housed at the Black Cultural Archives.

I learnt about an incredible Black British feminist named Olive Morris. She was a young Jamaican community leader and activist, who advocated for education and healthcare rights, and fought against police brutality. However, she is best known for standing up for squatters rights and tackling poor housing conditions for black people. Many immigrant communities were discriminated against in the UK in regards to housing, with many landlords advertising “No Blacks, No Dogs, No Irish” in the windows of their properties. Olive Morris led the Organisation for Women of African and Asian Descent (OWAAD) to tackle such issues from the grassroots level. I was able to look through periodicals and pamphlets written by the organisation, and even found unpublished original works of poetry by Black women at the time addressing feelings of displacement, which really resonated with me. I was conducting this research around the time of the Grenfell Tower fire in West London, which tragically drew attention to the poor housing conditions for the working class in Britain, disproportionately affecting people of colour, so learning about a young Jamaican woman advocating to improve the poor housing conditions of the Black working class in the 1980s definitely allowed me to see why learning the history of my country was so important for the present. As a Black British woman of Jamaican heritage, this is very much my history.

To learn more about Olive Morris, I wrote about her for the Black Cultural Archives’ website: bcaheritage.org.uk/in-remembrance-of-olive-morris-olivemorrisday

“Black Sound” pop-up exhibition: This exhibition, located in BCA’s café, highlights the importance of UK Garage and the legacy of Black British music. I helped to install the artwork on the table!

What is most rewarding about your internship?

I get to work in an incredibly diverse workplace with a majority of black women on its staff, who are committed to uplifting the voices of black people. Black Cultural Archives sheds light on hidden figures in history whose contributions are often silenced. It has created a home in London that supports the efforts of black people past, present and future, and is dedicated to providing a space for black people to excel. It feels absolutely wonderful to be a part of this and learn from such passionate people. The myth that Black is monolithic is truly dismantled in this work environment, and the black body is recognised as more than its racialised subjugation. We are valued and we are empowered as the creatives, intellectuals, and forward-thinkers that we are. I feel privileged that I was given the opportunity to work here for the summer, and am definitely interested in continuing to volunteer here in the future.

A Postcard From: Maya Bhalla-Ladd ’19

Name: Maya Bhalla-Ladd
Class Year: 2019
Major: Biology
Hometown: Boston, Mass.

Internship Placement: Smithsonian Environmental Research Center
Job Title: Environmental Chemistry Intern
Location: Edgewater, Md.

What’s happening at your internship?

At SERC, I am researching a global change study on how salt marsh grasses respond to changes in warming. I used various methods and experimental designs to investigate how these species will keep up with our changing world.

Why did you apply for this internship?

My research advisor and mentor, Dr. Thomas Mozdzer, urged me to apply for this opportunity because of my work with gas exchanges in his lab.

What has been your favorite part of this internship?

Working in a collaborative laboratory was one of my favorite parts of my internship at SERC. Often times in science, individuals are wary of sharing their projects because scientists want to be able to clearly claim all the work as their own. It was exciting to be able to discuss and problem shoot my project, experimental design, and results with others and really strengthened my project overall.

What is most rewarding about your internship?

Finding significant data is often a challenge for ecologists because the natural world is so complex. So, it was really exciting to find statically significant results in my data that can inform other scientists’ future projects.


A Postcard From: Rosa Nanasi Haas ’18

Name: Rosa Nanasi Haas
Class Year: 2018
Major: English
Hometown: Philadelphia

Internship Placement: Puentes de Salud
Job Title: Team Leader
Location: Southwark School

What’s happening at your internship?

The five teachers, including me, worked with the oldest students, teaching fourth- and fifth-grade students. We had a different theme each week: Social Justice Superheroes, STEM superheroes, Animal Superheroes, and Migrant/Hispanic & Latino Superheroes. One of my favorite days was when we asked the students to split up into four groups and research an animal superhero — something an animal can do that humyns cannot and that the students find fascinating. My group chose to research the Giant squid and we learned that the Giant squid has the largest eyes of any animals. We created posters together based on the research we gathered.

Another great day was when we asked the students to write love poems to a part of their bodies. We were focusing on self-care and how it is important to value each part of one’s body for how it enables one to perform different tasks. The poems were funny, creative, and thoughtful. One child wrote a poem to her heart, another child wrote a poem to her feet, and then then six of them got up in-front of the class and performed their poems. Everyone in the class was attentive and supportive of the student who was delivering his or her poem. That day we also talked about different ways to take care of our minds, bodies, and hearts. I was so proud of them.

Why did you apply for this internship?

I applied for this internship because I wanted to improve my Spanish and continue working with some of the students I worked with my first semester in college. My experience as a teacher’s aid at Southwark Elementary School in a kindergarten classroom that initiated a bilingual education program in the Fall of 2014 sparked my interest in bilingual education and the importance of becoming proficient in one’s native language first in order to perform better in English as well as one’s native language. I believe in the idea that education and dissemination of information can not be separated from the health of individuals and communities. I wanted to work with this immigrant community in South Philly and encourage kids to love to read, write, and explore. I wanted to hear the students’ ideas, thoughts suggestions, and opinions.

Living in a new city? What has that experience been like for you?

This was my first time living in an apartment in a city where I had many connections, but had never fully settled. I loved being able to cook with my roommates and eat what I wanted. I felt healthier and freer. I loved being closer to my friends and fellow activists fighting for Black Liberation. I like the people I live with and it was so nice to be able to walk to work.

Can you talk about the skills you are learning and why they are important to you?

I am learning how to work with four other brilliant, thoughtful, caring, opinionated people, which is common in the spaces I find myself in, but can also be difficult when multiple people have different good ideas. I have learned to be more patient and forgiving. It is important to recognize that we are all growing and that is something often easier to see in children. I have learned different strategies for getting kids’ attention, as well as warm-up games to get them energized to learn and work. I am learning how to determine what is worth explaining and how to wait for children to figure problems out on their own.

A Postcard From: Paige Weber ’18

Name: Paige Weber
Class Year: 2018
Major: Biology
Hometown: Auburn, Maine

Job Title: Research Assistant for Dr. Thomas Mozdzer
Location: Rowley, Mass.

What’s happening at your internship?

I am currently using the Los Gatos Research Lab Greenhouse Gas Analyzer to measure carbon intake of Spartina alteriflora, a dominant plant species on the Plum Island salt marshes. By measuring the carbon intake, I can determine gross primary production and ecosystem respiration rates of the marsh.

I am also continuing a long-term experiment of decomposition rates using two different types of tea. After installing the tea bags, they are removed 1, 2, and 3 years later and weighed. By calculating the weight lost, I can determine decomposition rates of the salt marsh. This is really exciting because it is part of a global experiment where scientists all over the world are doing the same experiment in different ecosystems.

Why did you apply for this internship?

I applied for this internship because I am currently working in Thomas Mozdzer’s lab at Bryn Mawr College. I worked for him at Plum Island last summer and I am continuing my work from last summer to collect data for my thesis.

What has been your favorite part of this internship?

My favorite part of this internship is living and working with ecologists from all over. I get to hear about their work and learn what they are studying. It is amazing to see what other scientists are doing and how it relates to the same ecosystem that I work on. It also gives me insight on graduate school programs and other advisors for when I start looking after I graduate from Bryn Mawr this spring.

What has been the biggest challenge you have faced at your internship?

The biggest challenge has been making my own schedule because I know what needs to get done and I don’t want to overwork myself or my lab mate, but I also don’t want to fall behind in work to the point where we are rushing to get things done. With our work being scheduled around the tide, if a day isn’t perfect for measuring gases, it can really mess up the whole weekly schedule.


A Postcard From: Mimi Benkoussa ’19, Madeline Perry ’19, Nathália Santos ’20, and Claudia Zavala ’20

Name: Mimi Benkoussa
Class Year: 2019
Major: Computer Science w/ Statistics minor
Hometown: Glastonbury, CT

Name: Madeline Perry
Class Year: 2019
Major: Psychology
Hometown: Baltimore, MD

Name: Nathália Santos
Class Year: 2018
Major: Economics and Political Science
Hometown: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Name: Claudia Zavala
Class Year: 2020
Major: Cities
Hometown: Houston, Texas

Internship Placement: Digital Scholarship Program
Job Title: Digital Scholarship Summer Fellows
Location: Bryn Mawr College

As part of our fellowship we have learned HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, used Python to create a web-scraper, applied management and cleaning techniques to “dirty” data-sets, and are currently creating our own website to house a data visualization project based on the collegewomen.org collection.

Just like our own cohort, our reasons for applying to this fellowship were varied. Mimi has always been interested in data and how it can be used, and was curious about the broader, “real world” applications of computer science and saw the fellowship as a way to apply her skills to a new and unique project. Madeline, on the other hand, has always been interested in computer science but has never pursued it. This fellowship has offered her the opportunity to develop her coding skills while working on a multifaceted digital project. For Nathália, the Digital Scholarship Summer Fellowship offered her the opportunity to continue to develop the skills she acquired as a Digital Scholarship Research Assistant during the spring semester, and to expand upon her knowledge of the Digital Scholarship field. As a Cities major, Claudia has an interest in how people interact with the spaces around them. This fellowship has allowed her to consider how a team of developers can bridge the gap between digital world and the people who engage with modern technology every day, and furthermore been a chance to explore how scholarly research can be displayed through data visualization, HTML, and CSS.

Being able to speak with Interactive Mechanics and Bryn Mawr Special Collections has been one of our favorite experiences, as we were able to see how collegewomen.org was built through collaboration. The Digital Scholarship Summer Meetup (which we hosted here at Bryn Mawr!) was also eye-opening, as we were able to talk to other students about their projects and see how digital tools allowed them to fulfill their research interests.​ Website creation has been another one of the most engaging and fun parts of this fellowship — it is so satisfying to see your hard work become a usable, tangible interface that people can interact with!

Let’s also not forget the fact that we have a lot of creative freedom regarding the direction of our data visualization project. We learned and applied various project management skills in order to take charge of the project and make it uniquely ours. It now reflects all of our talents and abilities, and displays our own visual interpretation of the contents of the collegewomen.org collection. One of the most rewarding things about this fellowship has been its collaborative aspect. Because we all come from diverse backgrounds and have different academic interests, we all bring unique strengths to the table and are constantly learning new things from one another.

We have spent significant time this summer learning and perfecting our CSS and HTML proficiency, which we believe will be immensely helpful in our future career paths. ​At the beginning of the fellowship, a few of us had doubts about the extent to which we would be able to contribute to this team project. Throughout the course of these eight weeks, however, we have acquired the skills to create a website from scratch and to clean large datasets. Moreover, we have learned about web scraping, web design, user experience, and video editing. This fellowship has allowed us to think critically about the digital tools available to us and programming languages needed to build a project. Prior to participating in this Fellowship the multi-layered process required front-end development was still a mystery, yet as the summer progressed, we were able to truly engage in this procedure by learning how to choose our audience, create design modules, web scrape, clean data, and write web functions.

A Postcard From: Victoria Tamura ’18

Name: Victoria Tamura
Class Year: 2018
Major: Biology
Hometown: Tamuning, Guam

Internship Placement: OneHeartSource
Job Title: Health Innovation Intern
Location: Cape Town, South Africa

What’s happening at your internship?

I am a proud mentor working with seventh graders at Oranjekloof Moravian Primary School. These bright students are on winter holiday, but they still choose to come to school because of their dreams of becoming doctors and healthcare professionals. As part of the Health Innovation program, we help them master their academics as well as educate them on medical issues and stigmas common in their community. Outside of school, we also volunteer with other groups within the community that need a helping hand.

Why did you apply for this internship?

I was instantly drawn to the program for its intimate community engagement within Cape Town. Also, as one aspiring to become a healthcare professional as well, I wanted to help foster the drive in the students to reach their goals and become educators of important health issues within their communities.

What has been your favorite part of this internship?

To help us in our interactions with our students and the community, the program has provided a few lessons on the Xhosa language and culture that are predominant to the area that we are working in. Xhosa is a unique South African dialect in that it is the only dialect that incorporates clicks into their alphabet. The entire process of learning the different clicks and greetings and practicing them with the locals has helped us open up to each other in the short amount of time we have. My students love assigning me homework on new Xhosa words, and we always have a lot of fun with it!

What has been the biggest challenge you have faced at your internship?

Traveling to South Africa with OneHeartSource has introduced me to so many people with similar passions and motivations for the program, but with any large group inevitably comes a lot of different and sometimes conflicting opinions on what is best. Despite the unavoidable discord, I highly appreciate all the respectful and thoughtful discussions that have come from the diverse group I was with. It was important to listen to each other’s ideas as well as the community’s needs in order to truly be effective. I’m grateful that OneHeartSource incorporated meaningful dialogues and encouraged safe spaces to share during this internship.

A Postcard From: Anisha Kannambadi ’18

Name: Anisha Kannambadi
Class: 2018
Major: Philosophy
Hometown: Princeton Junction, N.J.

Internship Placement: Lissenhall Veterinary Hospital
Job Title: Vet Intern
Location: Swords, Dublin Co., Ireland

One of the three baby hedgehogs dropped off at the hospital.

At my internship, there’s a lot going on! There have been so many different animals and cases which arrive daily at the hospital and they are all so interesting! Some of them include acupunctures, ultrasounds, spays and neuters, splenectomies (one of the spleens weighed a whopping 2 kilos!), lumpectomies, and tumor removals. This past Friday, there had been a stray cat who had a broken femur, most likely a result of oncoming traffic, which needed to be set in place to begin the healing process. A surgeon from an outside group had come in to perform the surgery, placing pins and rods into the cats’ femur. I was able to catch some of it as I also worked with the other patients who needed to receive vaccinations and other smaller procedures.

Some of the animals which come in are your typical cats and dogs, but there have also been some rabbits, guinea pigs, ferrets, seagulls, pigeons, and even hedgehogs! I’ve had a lot of experience, in the past month, with interacting with the animals as they were being treated. Most resulted in full recoveries while others resulted in the implementation of different methods to achieve positive results. I still have another month to go, but I cannot wait to see and do more! I have been enjoying this opportunity to work with an amazing group of veterinarians and nurses who are all very positive and willing to have me involved in their practice.

I applied for this internship because I wanted to experience working with animals in a country outside of the U.S. I had been able to do so with animals in Nicaragua, but I wanted to also understand the differences and similarities between veterinary practices in underdeveloped countries versus developed countries. I also wanted to be able to practice techniques and skills that I had been fortunate enough to learn through my previous experiences working with animals, as well as gain new ones. I wanted to get to know the staff and personnel involved at the vet clinics, to gain a better understanding of what they do and any insight they have to offer. As a pet owner myself, interaction with clients and understanding their situation while helping them with their pets was very important to me. I also wanted to gain more life experience living in a country which was out of my comfort zone. Initially, I was a bit weary with the idea of working in Ireland. It is very different from the work environment in the U.S., but it is just as rigorous. I’ve been loving it!

Living in Swords, I have had to make a reasonable adjustment to my expectations and needs. As I was used to using cars and other methods of transport to take me to the places that I needed to go to back home, I needed to change that mindset and plan ahead to get from place to place. Public transport had been a bit of an issue in the beginning, as I had no clue of where to go or how to get to the places I wanted to see. After studying and memorizing the lay of the land (thanks GoogleMaps!) I felt more comfortable going from work to home and around city-center. I also managed to find a route to work which provided a nice scenic walk in the morning; it takes 40 minutes, but since I am not a morning person it gives me a chance to properly wake up before beginning the work day. I also had to get used to the society and family dynamic, which was pretty different from mine in the beginning. As the weeks passed by I realized that, while different, it was all so interesting and fun! I am still in the process of getting used to Irish sarcasm, but my host family is helping me with that!

Made my host family a “traditional” American breakfast: chocolate chip pancakes, scrambled eggs, and bacon! (Or streaky rashers, as they say here.)

One of the biggest challenges that I have had to face during my internship was loss. I knew coming into this practice that there would be some bad times along with the good, so I was prepared to face them. The first day of my internship was the first day that I had to face the loss of an animal. It was hard for me, but I had rationalized the situation in my head and was able to distance myself emotionally from what had to be done. I was pretty good at doing this for most of these instances; however, in the last couple of weeks it had been a bit harder.

A Jack Russel puppy after surgery (she was such a cutie!).

There were two situations which took a toll on me. The first was an older Dalmatian, about 13 years old, who had an enlarged spleen due to two huge tumors. There was a splenectomy scheduled for the Friday, and there was a 30 percent chance that he would not have made it through surgery. Thankfully he did, and I was able to watch a pretty cool and interesting surgery! However, during the recovery period, he was not doing well, and when I came in the following Monday, I was told that he had passed earlier that morning. I was a bit in shock, as I had just seen him a couple of days before and he seemed to be doing well. After taking a couple of minutes to recompose myself, I was able to continue with doing the tasks I was expected to do. It was hard, but I decided that I needed to have a different attitude towards the whole situation and think of the positives rather than dwell on the negatives.

The second situation was pretty recent. A Samoyed, 8 years old, had come in for not eating. He was diabetic and had a fever, so I was tasked with trying to hand-feed or syringe-feed him. During this time, I had created a pretty strong bond with him. While he still was not eating on his own, I had managed to syringe-feed him a bit of food and drink water. I had left to go home after getting him to eat one of the days and came back the next morning, only to find him gone. He had passed before I arrived, which was quite emotional for me. This time, there was less than 24 hours since I had seen him last and he seemed to be eating more willingly and responding to everything positively. This was the first time that I had cried due to the loss of one of our patients. I tried my best to manage through the day so that I could get home and just have a good cry. It was an emotional day for me, but like I did in the previous situation, I decided to focus on the positives and work on making those the priority in my mind.

While I have had different types of experiences in my internship, I had also had a chance to explore the country around me, going to Blarney Castle, Cork, Galway, and many other places.

Blarney Castle.

Walking down the streets of Galway.

A Postcard From: Abigail Haakyung Lee ’19

Name: Abigail Haakyung Lee
Class Year: 2019
Major: Computer Science and Mathematics
Hometown: Gwangmyeong, Republic of Korea

Internship Placement: Paires友舍
Job Title: Product Marketer
Location: Beijing, China

My first week shadowing my boss at a meeting with an investor. (Investor — Boss — Me)

What’s happening at your internship?

So many things are happening at my internship. The company that I work for is based in China and it is a startup with five full-time employees and two part-time workers. I have been here as an intern since June 4 and saw many other interns coming in and out during my stay. I am here as a product marketer, which my boss would like to call me as a “brain” of the company. I develop products and prototypes of some services that the company can possibly sell soon that aims to provide services and systems for customers who use our services. Since things are changing so fast in the Chinese market, especially in a startup environment, the business plan that I read on my first day is in a process of modification on my fifth week here.

Outside view of my office — very center of Beijing.

Why did you apply for this internship?

I started learning Chinese when I first came to Bryn Mawr. I wanted to learn more about the Chinese language and fully expose myself into the culture by living in the center of the capital city of China. I also wanted to experience the culture of startup, as Bryn Mawr has given so many positive strong impressions by letting me be a part of small but strong and close community. I wanted to build strong relationships with people I meet here at my internship and wanted to work in an environment where communication is the utmost important factor.

Living in a new city? What has that experience been like for you?

My home in Korea is also in a suburban area, and we all know Bryn Mawr is in a very safe and quiet town.

Getting to live in one of the busiest cities in the world, my heart pounded and I was full of curiosity and questions about the people I will get to meet and the work here and the lessons I will get to learn in the next few weeks. Beijing is full of interesting places with long history and abundant artwork full of liveliness. One of my goals before coming to Beijing was never to stay in my dorm on the weekends. Whether I was tired or not, I told to myself never to stay where I was, but explore the bigger world and the taste of Beijing as much as I possibly could. On my first weekend, my colleague first took me to a graduation exhibition at one of the top art schools in China. I was not only able to feel the abundant and rich culture, but the infinite creativeness of Chinese young artists who would, or currently, lead a new wave. I also got a chance to hang around and go bowling for the first time with my colleague’s friends. Last week, I went to historically famous landmarks in China like Summer Palace and the Great Wall. Not only am I experiencing a city life with my new friends here, but also I am visiting renowned historical places and getting to know Chinese culture more.

Went to the Chinese Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA) Graduation Exhibition with my colleague and her friend.

Was this internship what you expected it to be?

I wanted to spend my summer writing some codes and develop a website to refine and develop my programming skills. But I am learning more than I expected and experiencing a so much bigger world than I have imagined. Rather than some hard skills that I wanted to develop, I am developing soft skills in so many diverse perspectives that I could not ask any other place to give me such experience. I have been currently developing a new dashboard for the company’s operations team to use, but this plan has been expanded so much that now we are planning to make this platform available to other customers by adding the following purposes: providing clear and transparent services, offering convenience for users, especially for the operations team, and implementing new and auto mechanisms to maximize the user’s experience. I have been working on this new dashboard product from the very blank page, and filling those blank pages with an idea followed by another really excites me, as all these features will take a step-by-step process that will ultimately end up in one product with all the purposes I first intended. I can’t wait to see what other projects I am working on will be like at the end of my day, and I am truly excited for what other works I would encounter and what ideas would come out that could really help the company grow.

Company logo. The first thing when you enter the office.

A Postcard From: Sanjana Sen ’19

Name: Sanjana Sen
Class Year: 2019
Major: Mathematics
Hometown: Kolkata, India

Internship Placement: Wash Cycle Laundry
Job Title: Sales and Marketing Intern
Location: Philadelphia

What’s happening at your internship?

There is a lot happening at Wash Cycle this summer. Startups are always a bit of a whirlwind, but this has been an especially exciting time at wash cycle. We are in the midst of multiple transitions — new technology, new hires, new systems, expansions.
I’ve mainly been responsible for the phasing in of a new database for the company. It allows us to track the entire pick up, washing and delivery process for all of our customers in Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, and soon Boston.

Why did you apply for this internship?

I applied for this internship because I knew that I wanted to work at a small company/startup that would let me work closely with high-level management. I also wanted the flexibility to take on a variety of different roles, and have the chance to explore different parts of the decision-making process.

What is something you have learned from your internship that you didn’t expect?

I learned how to ride a bike!

Bicycles are a major part of the business idea at Wash Cycle. Delivering laundry mainly on bicycles is how we reduce our carbon footprint. Though they didn’t personally teach me how to ride a bike, the way biking brought the community at WC together definitely inspired me to learn. I actually covered the 25-mile Lehigh Gorge trail in the Poconos in July!

Was this internship what you expected it to be?

Both yes, and no. I’ve always known that startups are generally fast-paced, and every day there is a new challenge. But being present when it seems like everything is falling apart is a completely different experience. It definitely took me a couple of weeks to adjust and accept that there will always be obstacles and there will always be issues. But I soon started relishing the challenges instead of fearing them, and l think that that is when I was able to be completely happy with my experience.

A Postcard From: Elliott Mutschlecner ’19

Name: Elliott Mutschlecner
Class Year: 2019
Major: Sociology
Hometown: Stevens Point, Wis.

Internship Placement: William Way Community Center
Job Title: Development Intern
Location: Philadelphia

What’s happening at your internship?

During my time at William Way I gained a diversity of experience and knowledge. When I first arrived in late May, the Center was preparing for their annual silent auction, and as a result I was able to see all the ins and outs that comes with organizing such a big event. I logged tons of information involving the auction items and donors, collected and wrapped auction baskets in an artsy way, volunteered at the event itself, and assisted in tying up loose ends when the event ended. Throughout the rest of the summer I actively participated in other special events. For instance, one of the other interns and I represented William Way at an outreach table for the opening of the first ever LGBT glass art show in America at the National Liberty Museum. There were quieter activities as well. By going through activities such as the grant writing procedure, processing membership donations, and collecting demographic information via survey, I discovered how much work it takes to cultivate strong relationships with members, donors, and grant funders.

Why did you apply for this internship?

I applied to the William Way Community Center because I believe in the power of community. Whether one looks at our response to the Aids Epidemic or our successful campaign for marriage equality, it is clear the LGBTQ community is a force to be reckoned with. We are strong but we also remain vulnerable. In a time when suicide rates of trans youth have spiked, trans women of color are murdered at disproportionate rates, and LGBTQ elders face housing discrimination, food insecurity, and abuse, I feel strongly it is my obligation to stand up and fight back. While my passion is people, I realized I needed more tools in my tool box if I was going to effectively advocate for my community. I decided that this summer I would focus on developing my office-related skills through programs such as Excel, Sales Force, Mail Merge, etc. In addition to improving my ability to fight for my community, it also gives me a competitive advantage for later when I am looking for jobs. Experience in development and financial management are two areas that are sought out in the nonprofit sphere. Lastly, I applied because William Way is one of the base LGBTQ organizations and has historical significance, as it has been around since 1974.

Can you give us three adjectives and three nouns that describe your internship experience?

Queer-friendly | Development | Tightknit
Technology | Collaborative | Community

Was this internship what you expected it to be?

No. I thought that working on a computer all day would not be stimulating enough for me. In the beginning of the summer I remember telling myself that even if it got boring, it was going to pay off in the long run. I am a positive person so I knew I wasn’t going to be miserable, but I was surprised that I did not once become bored with the work I was doing and actually found pleasure in the tech- and office-related tasks. Even when I performed monotonous tasks, I still found it entertaining. For example, I spent a significant amount of time plugging in data, and I found that the repetitiveness of such tasks felt therapeutic. I also was not expecting to be as close with my coworkers as I ended up being, and I’m looking forward to maintaining the relationships I made. I did not realize how much fun it can be to work in an office when you have coworkers who are easy to get along with.