Hi! My name is Jill Hirst and I am in the Class of 2021 with a double major in Sociology and Music. This year, I worked for a non-profit organization in Waterbury, CT called New Opportunities Inc. as an operations intern. This unprecedented year taught me how to adapt and persevere through unforeseen situations.
As a result of the pandemic, my internship was virtual, so this modified the type of work I was able to do for the organization. My position had a significant educational component where I was taught about non-profit administration with an accompanying research component, where I had to define an issue area in my community and perform all of the necessary steps one would have to take to get an organization to gain a 501(c)3 tax designation status (i.e. write bylaws and articles of incorporation, conduct a community needs assessment, research potential funding opportunities, and explore different development opportunities).
For this portion of my internship, I defined my issue area to be lack of multicultural and anti-racist educational curricula in my community. I collaborated with a new racial justice community action group in the town where I lived. So, I worked with my advisor to draft bylaws and articles of association, did a community needs assessment, led meetings on the development of a mission/vision statement, and developed social media and programming with the aim of educating the community on racial disparities as well as trying to implement local antiracist policies.
I have used and developed so many skills during this internship. I not only honed my writing and research skills through writing bylaws and conducting community needs assessments, but I also have developed my public speaking and critical thinking skills through leading group meetings and facilitating discussions with constituents. Finally, I have developed skills in learning how to be an inclusive leader, and to take ownership of my positionality and understand how to use that to lift up oppressed voices and to become an agent of social change. This is a skill that I continue to work on and am continuing to practice every day.
This internship with New Opportunities Inc. was absolutely incredible and I am thankful to Wheaton for the opportunity for funding an unpaid internship amid the COVID-19 pandemic.