Diary of an Intern: Frank’s Farewell•
When I told people I was working at an organization called “Be The Change,” their response was always the same – “You would!” My tango with social change work has been a consistent one-two step for the past five or so years, and it seems as though it all coalesced when I chose to intern at Be The Change, Inc. I am a student at Northeastern University, a college recognized for its cooperative education program and emphasis on experiential learning. A great majority of students at Northeastern fulfill their experiential learning requirement by completing up to three “co-op” jobs – six month full-time internships within their academic field of study. It’s a great way to put the skills I’m developing in the classroom into a business environment. And I was certainly able to do all of that, and more at Be The Change!
I am proud to have been the first Northeastern student to co-op at Be The Change. I would say my path to Be The Change was quite uncommon – I had first encountered the organization back in August of 2010, when I interviewed Alan Khazei for mtvU’s “My Shot With…” online show. Little did I know that my shot with Alan would also lead to my shot with Be the Change. I kept in contact with Alan and his team after the segment, and when it came time to start searching for a co-op, I knew exactly where to go. Fortunately, the team at Be The Change noticed my star quality from that mtvU segment, as I was hired as the OpportunityNation Student Assistant!
I entered the internship with the intention of learning more about creating social change in America. My studies at Northeastern are primarily focused on social change and social activism. Unfortunately within the classroom, I was not exposed to learning about the benefits of building coalitions for a common goal, or drafting social policy for widespread change. With my work supporting the OpportunityNation campaign, I was able to see both of those, in action, first hand! As time went on and as my comfort level with the OpportunityNation campaign grew, I gained increased responsibility and was given more challenging tasks. I was consistently encouraged to learn by my supervisors, and I made meaningful contributions to the campaign at the same time. Talk about opportunity!!
The intern program at Be The Change is a formal and structured program, yet very open with much room for creativity and customization. While my specific responsibilities fell under the OpportunityNation umbrella, I was afforded the opportunity to give input regarding both campaigns. Being included in staff meetings, conference calls and brainstorming sessions allowed me to see the full picture of the campaign, and share my thoughts and have them be heard. The work environment is unlike anywhere I’ve worked before – definitely not your typical office culture! The sense of humor exhibited by the staff truly enhanced my experience. I left feeling like I had gained not only an increased knowledge on issues surrounding opportunity in America or skills in building and maintaining coalitions, but a new group of inspiring friends! The staff at Be The Change is small but mighty, accomplishing much with very little; a true example of Margaret Mead’s quote to “never doubt that a small group of dedicated people can change the world.” I am beyond inspired by the work they have done and are continuing to do in enacting meaningful change in America. Even though my six months in the office was only a blip on the timeline of their undoubtedly long life to come, I am honored to have been able to Be The Change!