To say that this summer looks nothing as I envisioned would be an understatement.
Before the pandemic hit, I thought I would be in Boston with Dr. Malone and eleven other Duke students – working with an education-related nonprofit in-person, growing closer to my cohort, and riding down the Charles River over and over. But this week, I just finished my first week interning for a local nonprofit in Maryland – all from home.
I found my nonprofit through signing up to make them face masks, and after doing some research on the organization, I realized that my interest in child well-being greatly aligned with their purpose of providing therapeutic foster care. I reached out about the possibility of a more long-term volunteer opportunity, and the rest is history.
Overall, I have really enjoyed my first week! I loved learning about the history of my organization and how it operates. I got to meet the rest of the staff and feel more a part of the team. Although this week has been a lot of training and reading policies, I got started on some of my projects! I worked on researching local grant opportunities and community service organizations for potential partnerships, compiling the information into giant spreadsheets. I feel that I am providing value to these projects because I bring a unique youth perspective, and I have grown up in the area my entire life.
The biggest challenge so far has definitely been coping with the virtual aspect of the internship. While there is more freedom and flexibility, I really wish I could be there in person. I have truly realized how important the physical work environment is. My productivity thrives off of social pressure and being surrounded by others – it has been difficult trying to stay focused and motivated working alone. I really wish I could meet the foster children and better understand why I am doing the work I am doing. Although this is not what I was expecting, I hope that I can still make a meaningful contribution to their mission in a remote-fashion.
Overall, I feel really grateful and fortunate to have this opportunity to work with such an amazing organization, and I can’t wait to continue with my projects in the coming weeks!