It’s been a hectic year, to say the least, switching from in-person classes to remote learning, and then all of a sudden, I found myself interviewing on Zoom for my first internship. Internships are meant to teach us, to learn from, and throughout this experience I’ve learned some hard lessons that helped shape my values and make me a better writer. Throughout these two semesters, I rekindled my love for storytelling. As a journalism major and news editor, I’m used to strict, point-blank reporting. As the Communications Intern at Foundation Communities (FC), I learned to tap into a different kind of a reporting, a humanizing form of reporting – storytelling.
There is one project that not only helped me advance my writing and interviewing skills, but also served as a learning opportunity. My supervisor for part of my time at FC, Amy Jacobs, walked me through creating the newsletter and sharing a story. It was with the utmost pleasure that I shared the story of resilient resident Deja. I learned there will always be trials and tribulations, even in a nonprofit. Despite those trials, I set a goal of telling the residents’ stories and painting them as the resilient, beautiful people they are. I learned how to respectfully ask sensitive questions and create a safe, welcoming environment for interviewees to share. Following this project, Amy and I also created a trauma-informed guide for communications in not only storytelling, but everyday occurrences.
Before this internship, I struggled with the idea of being a hard news reporter or editor, always surrounded by and reporting on the most pressing issues and never seeing the change. At FC, I learned I could still report, and report on the change that is made. I learned that nonprofit work isn’t only about bettering the community outside of you, but improving the one in the office as well. Some of my mentors at FC like Amy, Anne Chamberlain, Olivia Rodriguez, Megan Sappenfield, Meghan Hein and April Richard fostered an environment for me and other interns to speak up when we had an idea for change, and to address issues we noticed could be improved within FC. I found myself using my voice a lot to better the way we wrote stories at FC. Although a tough lesson and troubling journey, through much self-advocacy encouraged by my supervisors, many others and myself were able to change the way we tell people’s stories. Overall, I learned I want my writing and communications skills to be a part of something bigger, part of change.
I never imagined myself working in a nonprofit. Now, though, as a rising junior, I find myself applying to not only editorial internships but other communications internships at nonprofits. All thanks to my experience at FC, I am able to broaden my horizons and see where else I can take my work. I’m looking forward to my fall semester as I take on a new role on campus as Editor-in-Chief at our student newspaper, Hilltop Views. Until that time arrives, I’ll be working at a small local restaurant in my hometown saving up for my future and preparing to be an aunt! – Nina Martinez