CCD: Tell us about your experience. What were your responsibilities?
CMJ: I served as the Marketing and Policy Intern for the Massachusetts Housing Coalition, a new nonprofit organization based in Boston. MHC aims to promote the creation of affordable housing in Massachusetts through advocacy of adequate access to transportation, sustainable practices, and racial social, and economic equity. As the Marketing and Policy intern, and the sole intern at the nonprofit, I worked closely with both of my supervisors to create content for our follower list of about 1,000 subscribers across multiple platforms. I was responsible for assembling the daily and weekly housing briefings.
Another part of my marketing responsibilities was to run the Facebook page. I posted relevant articles and wrote commentary representing MHC’s perspective on key issues. I also assessed the effectiveness of times we posted on our Facebook, and adjusted our strategy accordingly to maximize our views. Initially, I did many hours of campaign calls for candidates who MHC chose to endorse based on their key values and past legislation. I also created a database of donors who could potentially help us grow our organization.
For my responsibilities related to policy, I created a database on Excel, detailing contact and background information on Massachusetts legislators and local government officials. I drafted and sent out emails to key legislators for future collaboration in policy initiatives and efforts.
CCD: How did you get the opportunity? What resources at BU or elsewhere did you use?
CMJ: I joined the organization because I was interested in addressing issues in Boston exacerbated by the pandemic, such as housing. My friend from high school worked at MHC over the summer, and I requested that he connect me with my current supervisor. I began working there soon after I applied for funding through the Yawkey Foundation Scholarship. The organization was in its developmental phases when I joined the team, so there was a lot for me to do and learn. I was grateful to be a part of the Yawkey Program because it not only allowed me to do an unpaid internship without worrying about money, but pushed me to reflect on my experience as a whole.
CCD: What was the best thing about the experience? What was the worst?
CMJ: The culture of MHC is collaborative and open. Both of my supervisors valued my opinion, and I checked in with both of them multiple times a week. The organization has an Executive Director, Jefferson Smith, who makes the large-scale decisions. I communicated with Jefferson about once a week or every two weeks. The person who I worked with closely and collaborated with every day was Sam Shoap, who dealt with outreach and oversaw my internship. Most of my work was independent, with assistance and guidance from Sam and Jefferson. This allowed me to help the organization based on daily needs.
If I could change anything about this internship, it would be that I would want to be even more involved. I often wasn’t included in meetings or calls, which is to be expected, but I think that if I was more directly involved I would have an even deeper understanding of how the organization is run, and ultimately have a greater impact. Looking back at my personal impact on the organization, I am proud of my improved ability to communicate, as well as my ability to follow through with tasks until completion. However, I still would like to work on my ability to create my own work at times when there is a lull in tasks, and go above and beyond without necessarily being asked.
CCD: What was the most memorable moment of your experience?
CMJ: Working with Sam was a great experience because it taught me to be incredibly communicative. There was one instance in which I didn’t ask for help when I was confused about a task, and Sam took the time to call me and express that I should always reach out and be over-communicative rather than under-communicative. This was an important lesson for me, because before joining MHC I was more unwilling to ask for help. I plan to take this lesson into future internships, and be incredibly communicative and ask for help when I am struggling.
CCD: What advice would you give to another student about making the most of an internship, job, or other career-related experience?
CMJ: Come into the internship with the desire to takeaway something. Ultimately, I gained many takeaways from this experience. I learned that working at a new nonprofit often involves a lot of logistical work in order to allow the nonprofit to grow and be sustainable over time. I also learned about the importance of affordable housing and policy. During the COVID-19 pandemic, housing insecurity was exacerbated, and racial and social inequities were deepened. It was fulfilling to work for a nonprofit that addressed these important issues. Although I have always been fairly sure I wanted to work in an area that works to serve underserved communities, working at MHC reinforced that desire.