The most important skill, in my opinion, to have at an organization like The Fairness Project is communication. Being able to communicate to your supervisors, fellow interns, and other staff members allows you to work more efficiently and ensures that everyone that you work with is in the loop with what you’re working on. An essential element to our organization is that we communicate and coordinate campaigns with organizations outside of our office, which are typically run in the states where the campaigns occur. This means that being able to effectively communicate what you need to know from someone you’re emailing or calling helps everyone get the most amount of work done in a given day. In the campaign world, being able to save someone’s time allows them to work on getting their candidate or issue more likely to succeed come election day.
Part of communicating isn’t simply just telling people what you’ve been up to during the course of a workday, but also asking questions when you have questions to ask. My supervisors at multiple internships and jobs have stressed this point to me, which is that they’d rather you ask a question about something than have you not ask a quick question and have you misunderstand the whole task and have to do it over again.
Something that I’ve taken increasingly seriously this Summer as a Development Intern at The Fairness Project has been exploring the field of fundraising as a potential career, as well as expanding my network. I started by talking to my organization’s Development Coordinator and Development Director, learning how they got involved in the political non-profit fundraising world, and receiving advice from them on the topics of what they look for when they and other development professionals are hiring candidates. From there, I had an informational interview with our office’s Research Director, in which we discussed the field of political non-profit research. Recently, I’ve expanded my Dickinson network by attending the D.C. Career Conversation networking event in the past month. Through connections I made at the event, I’ve had coffee/informational interviews with alumni who live and work in Washington D.C., which have been incredibly helpful for me to understand the paths that Dickinson alumni take upon graduation and beyond.
One of the biggest changes to my day to day life, and that of any summer intern for that matter, is my general schedule. Starting my internship about two weeks after classes ended definitely resulted in a dramatic shift in my schedule. Instead of spending only a few hours a day either in class or doing intermittent reading, writing, or studying, a day to day job is obviously significantly more structured. I currently work from 9:30 AM to 6 PM, which requires a different set of focusing skills than the much shorter, sporadic college class and class work schedule does. However, one of the biggest perks of having that structured schedule around me is the idea that once I leave work, I’m done with all of it for the day. I’ve accidentally left work documents open on my laptop over the weekend, which my supervisor noticed on a Saturday and emailed me telling me to stop working, as it was not expected of me and in fact discouraged. In response, I told her that I was not working on the document and that I had only left it open for convenience sake come Monday morning. To further add to this encouragement of separating work and personal life, our Executive Director encouraged his staff, myself included, to take time off this summer, noting its importance towards having productive, happy employees.