Summer Internships 2018

Engage. Reflect. Integrate. #DsonIntern

Menu Close

Day 21: The Best Part of the Job

How have I already interned with Aegis twenty-one days??? I only have eleven days left, which is difficult to cope with.

Now you may be thinking, “Awww Liz loves being in Rwanda so much and isn’t ready to go back to the U.S.” And you’d be PARTIALLY right. Though Rwanda itself is amazing, what I’m really sad about leaving behind are the people I’ve met here, specifically my amazing co-workers.

The ladies I work closest with (from left to right): Jessica, Estelle, and Agnes

Internship experiences vary on desires of both the intern and the people in their workplace. Whether your experience will be work-centric or network-centric is completely up to the collaboration of these two parties. Very enjoyable for me, the Research, Policy & Higher Education (RPHE) unit of Aegis is very dedicated to relationship building, as well as working on interesting and ground-breaking projects. Throughout my twenty-one days so far, my co-workers have been warm and open, making sure I am comfortable both in and outside the office.

Estelle, Agnes and I dance with Jessica and her son Yuhi during his 1st birthday party

Building relationships with each of them has been a central part of my experience in Rwanda. They introduce me to their favorite eateries and social hang-outs, help me understand the local lifestyle, and engage me in intellectually stimulating conversations that cover any and every topic one could think of. Without their kindness and inclusivity, I believe my time working for Aegis would be much different.

Celebrating Agnes’ birthday at one of her favorite restaurants.

These lovely ladies inspire me not only to be passionate in the workplace, but passionate about embracing Rwandan life. As community is central to this lifestyle, I can’t thank them enough for helping me find one in such a short time.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend; I myself will be seeing the gorillas in Uganda 🙂 Tune in next Friday, June 29th to read my 6th blog! Till then, feel free to browse this digital archive of my adventures in Rwanda:

Introduction to the Global Mental Health Program

pic of folder

I am very excited to have started my Global Mental Health Internship at the New York State Psychiatric Institute at Columbia University Medical Center. I have joined a group of 11 really interesting interns from all over the world. During my first week, I heard from a panel of graduates from the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health. It was really interesting to hear about their different career paths and their reasons for getting a Masters in Public Health, specifically focusing on the impact of mental health globally.

We also got to hear from Dr. Kathy Pike, the Executive Director and Scientific Co-Director of the Global Mental Health Program. Dr. Pike discussed the Global Burden of Disease (GBD), a measurement tool that incorporated the prevalence of a disease or a risk factor and the relative harm or burden it causes. The GBD quantifies the true burden of mental illnesses so that change can be made in health care systems and disparities can be reduced. I am really interested in this idea, and after her talk, I was able to speak to Dr. Pike about the opportunity to work with her to research the GBD for a series of different mental illnesses. We discussed the creation of a graph that would represent the significant gap that is seen between the burden of a specific illness and the funding/resources available to treat and educate people about that illness.

Overall, it has been a great first week. I am looking to be working with my research mentor, Dr. Reuben Robbins on his work conducting neurocognitive assessments for HIV+ adolescents. I will learn more about that in the coming weeks!


First Impression


First time entering to the office of Italy-America of Chamber of Commerce here in Texas was really nice.

I instantly felt welcomed into the environment. I was received by Alessandra, Alesia who is the Executive Director had already mentioned me to Alessandra. Alessandra was very enthusiastic to get to know me, and right away went to announced to Alesia that I had arrived. They both sat with me and made me feel welcomed, and part of the organization. They were willing to work around my schedule and teach me everything they wanted me to help them out with. This internship was different, they introduced me to everyone in their office and everyone was really excited to work with me. They were more excited when I told them I was able to speak a bit of Italian and that I would be visiting their mother country on the fall, for school. I spoke a bit in Italian, but to be honest I need lots of practice because they were just too fast. But, the great part is that I get to listen to them speak and be at least able to understand what they are talking about.

They have also been really helpful on trying to speak a bit slower for me and have conversations with me in Italian, which I believe to be a great way to get ready for my academic year in Bologna, this fall.

Stay tuned

Week 3

Week 3: Navigating Conferences 

Images from the HAND conference website.

Housing Association of Nonprofit Developers

While my main focuses at work has to do with food security and community gardens, I am also given many opportunities to learn about the development industry, especially having to do with affordable housing. This week I had the opportunity to attend the HAND annual meeting. HAND is an organization which brings together development, construction, architecture, lending, and insurance firms to make it easier for affordable housing projects to take place. This conference stood as an opportunity to meet many people from a wide range of fields, and to have an honest dialogue about the need for and hindrances facing affordable housing in the D.C. area.

Staying afloat as an intern in these massive groups of seasoned veterans of your industry can be really difficult. The second day of my internship, I had an opportunity to attend a much smaller conference than the HAND meeting, yet had a much more difficult time. What I learned from that experience was that walking around a conference with someone who already has a lot of connections is the most useful strategy to learn from these giant meetings. As I quickly learned, these are mostly networking events, and many people already know each-other at these conferences. Therefore, having someone who has been in the field for a while is a useful person to be near. They can make introductions, give explanations, and be an overall guide as to how to get the most out of a large conference.

Raised Beds from the Dead

Raised beds at Webster Gardens.

On top of the conference this week, I still got my fair share of gardening done. My goal for work has been to seriously establish a garden at each property every week. This week, I focused on Webster Garden’s raised beds. Before I started my work, they were overgrown, low on soil, and lackluster. I amended the soil, weeded the beds, and planted tomatoes, beans, herbs, and pollinating flowers. At this property, there is a need to introduce children to the vegetables that can be grown and eaten. Now I want to take part in educating the summer group of kids to teach them how to manage a garden, and how to make the most of harvesting fresh herbs and veggies.


Starting my Internship at The Fairness Project

This summer I’m working in Washington, D.C. as a Development Intern with The Fairness Project, a nonprofit organization that works on ballot initiatives that elevate economic fairness in the United States. I started working at TFP less than a week after I left Dickinson’s campus, and moved to D.C. the day before I started my job. While I only had a small amount of time off between school and work, this summer I’ve been energized by the staff that I work with as well as the strong office culture that they’ve created. On my first day, the staff welcomed me with a donut at my desk, which I couldn’t eat because I have Celiac Disease, but the gesture was appreciated and made me excited for the work that I would be doing over the course of the summer.

In terms of how I found my internship, I was searching on for internships involving my major (Political Science) that combine with my interest in political campaigns and nonprofit work. The Fairness Project stood out to me because their work is incredibly impactful, as of writing they’ve put a total of $4.74 billion in workers’ pockets, mostly through raising the minimum wage in states. I also could tell through their job listing that while much of the work that they do is very serious and demanding, they also make it fun (they listed a sense of humor as something that they looked for in candidates). After submitting my resume and cover letter to TFP, I heard back from them asking for an interview. After my interview, they asked me for references and within a few weeks of applying they offered me the position of Development Intern.

Concerned about how I would be able to live in D.C. for the summer without a significant source of income, I applied for an internship grant from Dickinson. The internship grant I’ve received not only makes it easier for me to pay for food and rent, but it also allows me to not work a paying job in August (after I complete my internship) and instead potentially work on a political campaign for a short amount of time. So far this summer has been great, I’ve learned a significant amount about how development works on a broad scale and also how organizations like The Fairness Project raise funds in a competitive environment, which I will certainly discuss in future blog posts.

A New One-day-at-work Experience

As mentioned in the previous post, this summer I came back to AhaMove, the technological delivery company I interned at last year, but with a different role and in a different department. Therefore, despite my previous experience working here, there still are several differences that I have felt, seen, and needed to adjust to. Among them, the most noticeable change is how a typical day at work of mine proceeds.

Last summer when I worked for the Operations department, which deals with the driver-side issues of the company (AhaMove has a two-party system to work with – Driver and Customer), my day would be quickly and easily filled up. Early in the morning I would assist the on-boarding team in registering and training new drivers. The job typically took up to 45 minutes with 30-minute rest between sessions, during which I would go back to my desk and practice my coding skills. After an one-and-a-half-hour lunch break I would divide my afternoon into two halfs, one for analytical work such as research and data-driven assessment of the company’s driver policies, and the other for telesales and driver recruitment tasks. Admittedly a day like that would go by quite fast and busy but, at the same time, also simple. I had lots of work to do but the jobs were pretty straightforward and clearly defined.

On the other hand, as a Data Analyst in the Business Intelligence department, things are not that apparent. Obviously there are tasks assigned by my supervisor and co-workers, but they are not many and half of what I do are not clearly laid out in front of me right at the beginning of the day like when I was in the Operations team. Like other Data Analysts in the team, my job is to provide useful insights into the company’s activities and suggestions to improve its operations. What information, therefore, can be considered useful? What problems the company is having besides those already known to other teams? What actions needed to resolve the issues? Because even the questions are not specific, the pathway and solutions therefore cannot be evident. We will need to talk to other teams, dig into our databases and look at numbers and data before knowing what we need to do.

This is the most visible differences I have perceived between my current job and the one I did last year at AhaMove. The benefits are obvious –  we are free to do what we like and when we like it. However, challenges also exist – we are required to provide “value”, in terms of useful data-driven information with practical and specific plans and actions, for the company. We have meeting only once a month, and our manager’s first question for each team-member in those meeting is always “What have you done this month”. Our great freedom does come with huge responsibility.

The two way of working, the clearly defined way and this one, both have up- and down-sides, but so far I think I prefer this “freedom” more. Admittedly it is stressful and ambiguous at times, but this way of working allows me to explore and learn more, to always critically question and dig deep into problems. Hopefully I can get as much as I can out of this opportunity in the next two months.

HGTV Week 2- Edit, Copy, and Managing Editorial

After an eventful week with HGTV involving having two of my ideas chosen to be featured in a September article, the lifestyle director complimenting my creative progress to the executive editor of the magazine, helping out with my first photo shoot, going on fabric runs, learning how to use Adobe Bridge to organize photos of products to be printed for presentation boards, and much more, I ended on a high note by attending my first of several “intern meetings.”  HGTV magazine organizes many informal discussions throughout the term that focus each time on a different department of the operation.  This first meeting was between me, the five other interns, and most of the staff that work in the edit, copy, and managing editorial departments.  They each described their job threads that led them to where they are now, as well as the roles each of them perform on a daily basis.  Not only was this meeting very informational, but it allowed me to get to know people who work for the magazine more personally.  I’ve detailed what I learned in this short hour below:

The lifestyle department had to photograph different vases and flow View from one of the conference areas

Copy/Research Department

At most magazines, these are two separate departments, but at HGTV they work together.  This department is responsible for making sure that the magazine has a consistent voice and that there are no grammar or factual errors.  They are the last eyes on every page of the magazine before it is sent out to the printer.  Often times, freelancers are hired to do that fact checking for major or technical features.

Managing Editors

Managing editors, known as MEs, help make sure everybody in every role knows and is part of a timeline and that everything gets done in time before the next step.  In addition to scheduling, they are in charge of legal contracts, licensing, tracking the production process, creating the ship schedule (the ship dates when the magazine is released to the printer), some partnerships (like for advertising purposes), and staffing.  The managing editors at HGTV do such an efficient job that most issues have a “rolling close,” which means that everything is done slightly early and doesn’t require late night cramming before the issue needs to be released to shipping.  Many of the employees in attendance at this meeting told us that it is really common at a lot of publications to be at the office until 3 in the morning the night before shipping, but this has never happened at HGTV.  HGTV magazine has also never had a late fine from Hearst, which occurs when there are major production delays.

Edit Team

The edit staff are simply the ones that make the copy (writing).  For larger features, they write the approved article and then send it to the art department for formatting.  For segments that have lots of photos and only small amounts of text here and there, the art department creates the layout and inputs dummy text.  Then, the edit team will write copy to fit the designated text areas.

Life Advice and General Information

Several of the staff members told us, including one person who is both an editorial assistant and the assistant to the editor-in-chief, that assistant jobs for “high up” employees are good first jobs because you have to make connections with everyone that needs to interact with the person you are creating schedules for and helping.  It’s a major networking boost.  In terms of affording to live in a major city like New York on a low-paying salary, they suggested selling your car if you have one, stacking up on roommates (a member of the Copy/Research department told us she once had 6 roommates in the city; one man who was sleeping on their couch for a few weeks is now an editor-in-chief of another magazine), and considering moving slightly outside of the city.

My first week of internship

With a significant advantage of working for a startup, I had a chance to have one-on-one meetings with the CEO of AhaMove and different managers of the departments that I would collaborate closely with, including Business Intelligence, Operations, Business Development and Marketing. Valuing the importance of connecting employees with the company’s mission, the CEO and managers spent a lot of time showing me the structure, daily activities and latest problems of each team in order to equip me with general knowledge of the company as well as the logistics industry. Not only did they mention the opportunities and challenges that the company has been facing but they also shared their experiences and lessons from which I could enrich my understanding of AhaMove. Since the Business Intelligence team plays a vital role in sustaining the supply-demand balance by helping AhaMove identify, develop and implement effective business strategies, a strong background in the operation of the company and each department within it will help me fulfill my responsibilities as a data analyst intern more efficiently. Indeed, to understand more deeply about the service that AhaMove provides as well as the recruiting process, I participated in a special training session for  new drivers and took an assessment test afterwards like other trainees. Along with different lessons learned from the professionals, I gained more insights of not only the company but also the logistics industry in Vietnam during the first week of the internship. Therefore, I am certain that AhaMove is an amazing workspace where I can grow both professionally and personally in the next three months.

Let The Research Begin

This week was chock-full of research. Currently Earth Day Network is working on the campaign ideas for 2020 being that it will be the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day. So this whole week was dedicated to picking two countries and becoming an expert on what they are doing environmentally. I have been looking into Ecuador and Switzerland. These two countries are in very different spheres when it comes to their environmental impact. Ecuador has been known for burning their trash and the government said enough is enough and decided to create a landfill in order for the people to have a slightly better way to dispose of their waste. However, when the citizens heard of the idea to make a landfill, they protested stating that it would be bad for the environment. The government listened to this and decided it wasn’t best to have a landfill, sadly nothing has been changed and they are still burning their trash in order to be rid of their waste. On the other hand, there is Switzerland who have also been burning their trash. However, it’s not as bad as it sounds. Switzerland has found a way to burn their trash into renewable energy! Crazy right! Currently, with Earth Day Network, I am trying to reach out to government officials in Switzerland to get more of a word out about what it is Switzerland is doing with their waste and how to engage the rest of the world into using that system or some sort of version of it that works best for them.

As I continue with this project I hope to learn more about many different countries and I hope to be able to reach out to them in order to get them on board with our Earth Day 2020 campaign. Until next time blog viewers. And just as a final note, I’d like to say how incredibly grateful I am to have been given this opportunity to work in DC for the summer and it is truly thanks to the donors of the grant program at Dickinson that I am able to take part in this. I can’t wait to keep sharing the fun things I’ve been doing!

One Week Later…

And with that, my first week as an Advertising intern at the Kennedy Center has concluded. How time flies. Please take a look at the arts and cultural center from the Theodore Roosevelt Bridge… How beautiful it is.

Excitement, coffee, and nerves are the words that really summarize my first week at the Kennedy Center. You should have seen me when I was walking to work on my first day. Everything was going well, to be honest—I was wearing my business formal attire, wielding my blonde roast Starbucks coffee, and listening to the La La Land soundtrack on repeat (because everyone listens to La La Land on their way to work in the mornings, right? Well… you should). Despite my attempt to fit in with the excitement and frenzy of the morning rush, the minute I stopped using my phone to navigate, I was lost. Ashamedly, I turned around, realizing I was walking in the opposite direction. (I hope it gets easier.)

On Monday, I participated in an in-depth orientation process. The group of interns—which ranged from Dance Programming to Institutional Affairs and everything in-between—and I explored the Kennedy Center’s nine major theater venues and the exquisite hallways, while also learning of the history and contexts that inform the organization itself. President John F. Kennedy—the man from whom the institution takes its name—once said, “I am certain that after the dust of centuries has passed over our cities, we, too, will be remembered not for victories or defeats in battle or in politics, but for our contribution to the human spirit.” The human spirit, to Kennedy, was the arts. As such, I learned that the Kennedy Center is committed to increasing opportunities for all people to participate in and understand the arts—those which reflect the highest standards of excellence and diversity indicative of the world in which we live.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, I was introduced to my role as an Advertising: Editorial Communications intern—a role which, if we’re being honest, is pretty amazing. In general, I am charged with conceptualizing, writing, and deploying email marketing campaigns. In addition, I write the copy for ballet, theatre, and comedy brochures while also producing short radio spots that will be aired across the D.C. metro area. While I am working on a handful of email marketing campaigns right now, my current print project (and my favorite) is a theatre brochure that will drop to all Kennedy Center theatre subscribers in just a few weeks. I can’t wait to share the final product with you all!

On Thursday and Friday, I continued to work on my digital and print projects, while also participating in meetings ranging from production inquiries, theatre programming, concept gatherings, and more. During a meeting that pertained to the Kennedy Center’s Reach initiative (you can read about it here!), I was asked to share my own opinion on the naming of rooms and spaces that will exist at the Reach. Although I am an intern, my colleagues have made a great effort to ensure that I feel equally a part of the team, and I am very grateful.

While I could certainly write more, I really must be going. After all, I am going to see Mendelssohn’s “Italian” Symphony at 8 p.m.! Wishing you all a restful, exciting, and joyful summer! Take care, my friends!