Working at Sexual Health Innovations has helped me a lot in deciding what I want to do both during and after my final year at Dickinson.
Primarily, I’ve reaffirmed my commitment to working in sexual and reproductive health. The biggest realization I’ve come to is that I want to go to graduate school for public health; I want to do more in the field, and I think this would be a great learning environment for me. I’m taking the GRE in September, and planning to apply in the fall.
Thanks to the Career Center’s internship grant, I’ve been able to try out living in NYC and have really loved it. I would definitely want to live here again after college.
When I get back to Dickinson, I’m going to try to take a computer science class to learn more about coding and the tech necessary to make programs like Callisto. I’m also hoping to bring programming from a group that runs workshops for Greek students to help change cultures of sexual violence on campus.
I’m so thankful to everyone at SHI and Dickinson for making this experience such a great one, and helping me determine what’s ahead.
Last week, I completed my internship at SHI. It was great to see the other interns’ project presentations, and have a final long talk with my supervisor. Of everything I’ve learned this summer, these are the most important:
- Use all the resources your site and Dickinson offers: Primarily, the internship notation and grant program. These allow your internship to be officially marked on your transcript, and the grant provides money to students to alleviate the costs associated with an internship (rent, transportation, and food). The perks at WeWork were less helpful for me as just a temporary intern, but they had a lot of free food and events for members!
- Don’t be afraid to ask for more work: even if your boss seems busy, it’s important to remind them that you’re there to help and to learn.
- Ask a ton of questions, about everything: I asked my peers and employers all about their educational and career backgrounds, as well as the internal workings of the org and its various relationships with donors, other companies, and foundations.
- Network: I had to ask my boss a few times to introduce me to people I wanted to meet. I also made sure to connect with them on LinkedIn afterwards.
- Get advice: I asked my supervisor and the CEO a bunch of times for career advice, and made sure to keep them updated on what my plans for the future are. I also intend to keep in touch with them in the coming years, as they know a ton about graduate programs and could connect me with some of their friends who went to the schools I’m interested in.
Sexual Health Innovations took on four fellows this summer: me, the development fellow, a Callisto fellow, and two special projects fellows. The Callisto fellow is in our San Francisco office, so I only interact with her over video chats, but I’ve gotten close with the other two in my office.
They have spent the past few months completing an incubator project; our supervisors tasked them with creating their own piece of technology to improve sexual health in the US. Next week, each will present their idea.
I’ve been slightly involved with their projects; since I’ve been drafting and editing project notes, as well as participating in budget meetings, I have some insight into how their proposals should look and sound. Mostly, I’ve been a sounding board for their ideas.
It’s tough finding people with similar interests, so I’ve really enjoyed getting to know them. We work very independently from each other, but it’s been worthwhile to schedule time to all meet and talk, whether it’s about their projects, my work with SHI, or general topics in sexual health.
Yesterday I went to a fundraising training session hosted by NEO Philanthropy; they’re a big funding source for a lot of nonprofits and have created a specific initiative to target sexual assault on college campuses. They invited a lot of the big players in this field, including Sexual Health Innovations, End Rape on Campus (run by the women featured in the recent documentary “The Hunting Ground”), Know Your IX, It’s On Us Campaign, Culture of Respect, Breakthrough, and Carry that Weight Campaign. Needless to say I was fangirling a bit.
Working in development, I’ve realized that fundraising isn’t something a lot of activists know how or want to do. Given the passions of my peers and supervisors, raising funds is the tedious part of completing their missions. It’s also fairly difficult for those of us with backgrounds in, say, women’s studies to determine good business practices.
There are two main streams of funding: donor and foundation. Donors are individuals who contribute money, whether from a crowd funding campaign or personal connections. Foundations are organizations often run by companies (like the AVON Foundation) or families (like the Clinton Foundation) that set a mission or set of values and seek projects that align with these to fund.
The session was helpful for me to understand some basics and challenges of networking, donor prospecting, grant writing, and maintaining relationships, skills I’m sure will come in handy throughout my nonprofit career.
Along with having a great internship, I’m lucky enough to work at a pretty awesome site as well. Sexual Health Innovations is located in WeWork Fulton Center, one of many locations owned by the startup incubator. These office spaces are meant to be extremely modern, collaborative, cheap, and young. They house mostly nascent companies and provide desks in a “lab” (as pictured), as well as phone booths and reservable conference rooms.
The companies here are mostly tech-centric, and it’s pretty rare to see someone over 35 in the office. I really like being in such a young and casual workspace; it’s pretty rare in the Financial District.
Other benefits include kegs of beer on every floor, a video arcade, cheap massages a couple times per week, ping pong table, and Nintendo64.
As a student employee at Dickinson’s Career Center, March and April are largely memorable for the ever-present summer internship panic on campus. Of course, applying to internships is scary, but even finding the right one can be pretty intimidating. I scoured the school’s resources, like DickinsonConnect and the Liberal Arts Career Network (LACN), but ultimately found my top choice through social media, with the help of a friend.
I originally heard about SHI through another student I went abroad to Madagascar with the summer after my first year. Becky interned with them last summer, and when I met her that July to catch up, she was enamored with the org and the work she was doing. This stuck with me; Becky is one of the most intelligent and passionate people I know, and I figured anything that she felt this strongly about warranted attention.
I looked up a few articles about Callisto, their third party, online sexual assault reporting system, then began following them on Facebook to keep up with their latest news. I also kept track of them on Idealist, a job posting website for mostly nonprofit, socially-minded work. In the spring, I applied to about five internships, but when SHI posted their development fellow position, it went to the top of my list. Of course I loved the org already, but I was also hoping to get some experience in development. This past winter, I completed a small internship in a federally qualified community health center in my hometown and became close with their DDO. Working in the nonprofit sector, fundraising skills are a great way to understand the field and improve your own marketability.
I completed a phone interview over spring break, then traveled to NYC for the day in March to do an in person interview with the DDO and executive director. I knew this was the place for me when Tracey stated they were trying to build a staff of “badass lady bosses”.
So, I start tomorrow, and I have high hopes. I’m looking forward to the work, but also so incredibly thankful to be connected and working with such influential and creative change makers.
Hi all! I’m Anna and I’ll be blogging about my experience as a development fellow at Sexual Health Innovations in NYC this summer. I’ll start with a little intro about myself and the org…
I’m an anthropology major with a minor in women’s and gender studies and a certificate in health studies. At Dickinson, I’m involved in Delta Nu sorority, Yes! Please, and I’m a career coach at our college Career Center. My academic and career focus is women’s health, with interests in comprehensive sex education, reproductive justice, sexual assault prevention, and social epidemiologies.
Now, Sexual Health Innovations is my dream internship. They’re a startup tech company with a few initiatives running right now, but their main project is called Callisto. It’s an online, trauma sensitive, third party reporting system for sexual assault on college campuses. The objective is to make the reporting system easier and–most importantly–empowering for survivors. Here’s a link to a great MSNBC video about it that features the two amazing supervisors I’ll have for the summer.