Summer Internship Series: What Inspired You Today?

Kristina Wright ’18

Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.

Summer internship series: what inspired you today? - screen-shot-2017-10-03-at-1.36.54-pm.png image #0My name is Kristina Wright. I am senior Anthropology/Sociology major and Psychology minor. On campus I am the president of Big Brothers Big Sisters, a member of SHARE, a research assistant in the Psychology department, and I work for a legal aid office in Newark.  This summer I had the amazing opportunity to work with the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C. I worked specifically with their summer camps and sleepovers. The summer camp had children ages 5-14, camp counselors called YTAs (Youth Teaching Assistances) ages 15-18, and instructors for each camp. The camp lasted a total of 9 weeks and each week there were about 10 new camps. The theme of the camps ranged from Ghostbusters to the Art of Recycling. The goal of camp was to get children excited about learning. Instructors would take students to various museums and relate exhibitions to their topic and help them in creating a project for the end of the week to show their parents. My typical day consisted of organizing classrooms for summer camp, making sure all the campers were checked in and smiling, applying band aids when needed and sometimes when not needed, handing out water bottles because 5 year olds forget that water is necessary and teenagers are too cool to drink water, and listening to all the amazing tales that children live to tell while I would sit with them at lunch.

Summer internship series: what inspired you today? - screen-shot-2017-10-03-at-1.37.14-pm.png image #1Our theme of camp was inspiration.  I was inspired everyday by not only the intelligence and energy of the campers, but my coworkers as well. All of the children had such varied interests that no conversation was ever the same. They cared so much about what they were learning and it was obvious during their project displays, or show and shares as we called them. I counted so many google eyes, sharpened endless pencils, and supplied too many snacks to campers that “forgot” their lunch, that at points my internship seemed like a never ending trip to the copier or Costco. All of this was worth it however when I went to the show and shares. Nothing can quite describe the sense of pride and accomplish that comes with seeing all your efforts and 12 hour work days being appreciated. All the long days, blisters, and permeant glitter on my skin seemed worthwhile when a 5 year old called my name from across the room to show me his frog project he created on the rainforest and used the toilet paper roll that I found for him. I was so inspired by the energy and drive of these children. Being a part of this helped me realize that I want to work with kids after graduation because I gained as much from them as they do with my help. I was also inspired by my coworkers. My boss developed the Smithsonian summer camps from the ground up. She was originally a theater director, but stumbled onto this career path and has not left since. She inspired me daily through her positive outlook, care for the children, realism, and awareness of the difficultly working with children. She allowed me to have hands on experience and trusted me enough to deal with issues I had never dealt with before, but she knew I can handle even when I did not think I could. It is because of her that I am looking into educational programing for children and I know that she will be there to help me whenever needed.

Summer internship series: what inspired you today? - screen-shot-2017-10-03-at-1.37.29-pm.png image #2

Camp is crazy, but inspiring. I miss waking up and metro-ing to work to see the faces of 200 children asking me to walk with them or hold their hand on the way to class or showing me this new book that they are reading. I miss my boss placing coffee on my desk because she knows I have not set down since check in. I miss the craziness and joy of working with kids every day. I was inspired every day and now every day I hope to work towards inspiring others.

Summer Internship Series: Photography in Peru

Julia Tallant ’20
Intern, FairMail, Huanchaco, PeruJulia tallant exploring photography in peru

I am Julia Tallant, and I am a sophomore Studio Art and Spanish double major. This past summer I was lucky enough to be able to intern with a fair trade photography company in Huanchaco, Peru, where I spent about 3.5 months living and working.

The basis of the company I interned for (FairMail) was to provide underprivileged Peruvian teenagers with DSLR cameras and to train them to take photos for greeting cards, and the teenagers receive 60% of the profits to use for their education, housing, and healthcare.

I was responsible for teaching photography classes 3 times a week and offering make up lessons for the kids who couldn’t make it. I created presentations introducing different themes and topics for each week. My favorite topic was our three-week unit on animals during which we had puppies in class every day. I would also give suggestions to the kids on how they could improve their photos and make them more appealing to potential customers, and I also selected the photos to be sent to my bosses in Europe so that they could select the final greeting cards.

I spent my final week with the bi-annual FairMail photography trip. Four of the teenagers with the best conduct were selected to go on the trip to a city in northern Peru with me, one of the owners of FairMail, a volunteer, and two tourists. The purpose of these trips is to give the kids more opportunities to take photos that can be become greeting cards and to also give them the opportunity to get to know different parts of their country. During that week, I taught them about the Principles of Design, which are fundamental guidelines for creating a successful work of art that I learned a lot about in my Denison art classes.

I was very lucky to work with talented instructors and a dedicated staff at FairMail. My first month and a half at FairMail, I co-taught the classes with my fellow instructor, Viky Bo. After she left, I realized how much work went into planning the lessons alone, and I am very grateful for her sharing that workload with me as I was starting out my internship. The two managers of the FairMail team, Angeles Acevedo Bobadilla and Anidela Rios Pizan, provided me with a lot of support throughout my internship, especially when it came to the more technical side with computers and what not, and I am very grateful for their patience and friendship. The two owners of FairMail, Peter Den Hond and Janneke Smeulders, answered a lot of my questions before I arrived to Peru and helped me a lot during the photography trip, and I am grateful for their support and suggestions on how to improve my teaching.

My summer with FairMail has helped me realize how much I want to work in a creative field, especially one that is Spanish-speaking. Additionally, working with a company that puts bettering community it works with first and seeing the positive effects it has had on the community has inspired also challenged me to consider the field of International Development, which is something I had never thought about before I went to Peru. Overall, I think that this internship has challenged me to think about where I want to be in the future and helped me gain skills that I know I will use for the rest of my life.

Summer Internship Series: Helping Students Prepare for College

Mike Angelo ’19
Summer Completion Coach, College Forward, Austin, Texas

My name is Mike Angelo, I am a junior Environmental Studies major with an Educational Studies minor.  This summer I had the privilege of serving as a Summer Completion Coach at College Forward in Austin, TX.

College Forward is a non-profit college access organization that serves students across Texas in an access program and across the country in a persistence program. The primary focus of College Forward is to equip low-income and first generation college students with the tools and support to graduate with a college degree. Among other things, College Forward mentors, teaches, and empowers their students beginning junior year of high school. This summer I worked in a summer bridge program designed to assist students preparing to enter their first year of college. The cohort of interns I worked with did some typical intern activities, filing and organizing to mention some, but we were also given ample opportunities to participate in committee work and projects.

My principal responsibility was contacting students in my caseload. This was an intimidating responsibility–calling students who were only two years younger than me sounded like an awkward task. And I’ll admit, it was! However, College Forward was such a conducive environment for me to develop and enhance the necessary skills and before I knew it, I was comfortably calling students left and right.

My supervisor, Melissa Aleman, was phenomenal, to say the least. With every meeting, it became more and more evident that Melissa cared about my growth professionally. She was extremely helpful with guiding me on setting personal goals throughout the summer, and she was sure to help me get the most of my experience with the company. She also helped me translate my many ideas into action items around the office, which really made me feel like I was making a contribution to the company. Ultimately, I think the most important thing I learned from Melissa is that a supervisor isn’t someone to fear or be intimidated by, they are someone who really is there for you.

This summer I had the opportunity of interviewing candidates for the full year position. This was as daunting as it sounds. After a couple training sessions with HR, I was ready to sit in on an interview. Due to timing, I was only able to participate in one interview, but there was an extremely unexpected learning opportunity from this. Being on the interviewer side taught me that interviewers are just normal people who are looking to have a conversation with you. This experience was the single best professional development opportunity I received this summer, and I believe that it will really help me in the future relieve the stress of an interview.

I also had many opportunities to take leadership on projects this summer. One highlight was creating a resource guide for the full-time employees to learn and relay information about beneficial programs in the area to their students. I volunteered to lead this project to gain experience leading a project in an office setting. I was able to learn how to lead productive meetings and effective ways of communicating with my team. This was also my first experience setting deadlines and preliminary deadlines in a professional setting. At the end of this project, I felt a sense of accomplishment among the other interns on the team as we presented our final resource guide to our supervisor.

My summer at College Forward has helped me guide my professional goals and give me an insight into my future career. I know now more than ever that I want to work in an environment where I can help students and my experiences at College Forward have helped solidify that decision.

I would like to thank Melissa Aleman and her fellow Program Managers, Rachel Van Middlesworth and Ashley An along with everybody at College Forward for an enriching experience this summer.