2021 Week 3: Virtual Internships

HUIYAO CHEN | BALTIMORE JOB HUNTERS SUPPORT GROUP

This week is mainly about revising and refining the resource guide and integrating new information and resource. My supervisor has made comments on the need for the addition of info and has responded to my comments. Two major additions are: we are planning on adding information from the Oral Health Resource Guide – MD and special information on what to do if one resigns due to workplace bullying. I especially adore the second one, as it goes a step beyond addressing not only employment/unemployment issues, but also the potential stress, concerns, and personal and professional/career obstacles that may come along with unemployment due to particular reasons. And I as well appreciate the incorporation of this “more than jobs” concept demonstrated in the Guide. It provides more than just job-hunting information; it includes more supporting resources to help people thrive physically and mentally.

I’ve been wondering: regarding the heatwave this summer, is the government/ are there any organizations doing programs/projects that could in some way reduce the vulnerability of (especially outdoor labor) workers? How about for COVID? I know that the government has lifted the mask mandate starting July 1st, but for public workers who are not yet vaccinated/fully vaccinated, would this impose significantly greater risk to them? Any PPE for free projects or other projects for them?

I have also been starting to help out with other works. For instance, we would like to make a birthday card sending list and send personalized cards for those who filled out our link in our weekly newsletter. This is just a really nice thing to do that makes me happy. In addition, we are also working on sponsorship and propaganda-related work, which shall be pretty different from the guide but an exciting and new experience.

CIONNE GATES | BY PEACEFUL MEANS

Since starting my journey this summer as an intern for By Peaceful Means, my experience has been filled abundantly with encouragement and inspirational people. For this week, I attended staff orientation everyday for a couple hours with the junior and senior staff leaders of the camp. Even though I haven’t been involved with the programs for an extensive period of time like theirs, everyone was supportive of the ideas I contributed and helped improve some methods of approach for the specific age group of kids I will be working with (ages 3-5 years old). Moreover, because we are remaining a virtual camp for the summer, our participants will be lower than expected, but we took a day out to contact all previous parents who participated through all means of communication. Essentially, this demonstrated the resilience and patience of my supervisor and peer leaders, which only furthered my excitement to work with them for the rest of the summer.

While I was able to get to know some of my peers through ice breakers in the morning, most of my time was in breakout rooms with the group of leaders who are teaching the same age group as me. Our senior staff teacher is Miss Elise, an encouraging and optimistic mentor that also works in the elementary school system. In addition to her, I am working with two junior leaders Aeon and Evan, both of whom were previous kids of the peace camp. Every day during orientation, we have been assigning different sections like the math and science classes to each other while still providing fun activities to keep the kids attention on Zoom. Recently, I have been tasked with reading aloud for them, so I have been researching online different books that coincide with the theme of the week for the kids. So excited for what’s to come!

KUSH KATARIA | JUBILEE ARTS

A typical day of working at Jubilee starts off by me waking up at 8 am, getting ready, eating my usual breakfast of a bagel and coffee. 9am is when the Youth in Business program starts. So at around 8:55 I log in to Zoom and see all the youth pouring in. This 9am to 12 am design meeting covers a lot of things. We always start the day of with an ice breaker, like pick something significant from around you and share its importance. Most times though it’s something artistic like playing Pictionary. I always love hearing what the youth have to share. Then there is a 15 minute staff meeting while the youth are on break where we discuss the day’s plans and share information. The rest of the time is focused on design and creating a meaningful design with the end goal of producing a t-shirt that will sell a lot. Usually there will be some small lesson on design and then the youth work on their individual designs. I always enjoyed the times in the middle when the youth would show their work to the class. It was so amazing to see that much talent and see their progress. Then the other youth and alumni mentors would weigh in with some constructive criticism though mediums like Jamboard with great suggestions.

After the 9-12 class, there is a lunch break from 12-1. After that from 1-2, there is either business class which youth learn valuable business skills or some team building activities. After this day of Zoom, there is usually some independent work which I complete later in the day. This work is usually centered around social media and marketing. For example, I need to curate an Instagram story every day and post it on the social media. This week I was also tasked with producing a flyer design for the presentation the youth have to give later on this month.

So far, I have enjoyed getting settled into the routine, though the Zoom can sometimes seem a lot. I love working with all the amazing alumni mentors and my supervisor and getting to know them better.

FATIMA MENDOZA | OUT FOR JUSTICE & OFFICE OF COUNCILMEMBER JAMES TORRENCE

On a typical day of work, I first start off my day by making breakfast and setting up my things for the day. Then, on Mondays or the Friday before the start of the week, I receive a list of my assignments that I have to get through by the end of the week. Some of the previous assignments I have done include compiling a list of job readiness training programs, drafting sponsorship letters, and going over and updating someone’s resume and cover letter. Clearly, the work I have done so far has been more related to research and writing. I even got to fill out a donation request application. My time at Out For Justice has also involved plenty of phone calling to get further details that my assignments may require. Because my internship is virtual, I primarily do things on my computer to get through the work. So, my first three weeks have been relatively calm, which is about to change starting this week. In addition to Out For Justice, I will be interning for the office of Councilman James Torrence part-time as well. This is all very exciting, and it is also funny that I’m still having adjustments in my internship experience, well internships now. I can’t wait to see what else this week brings.

MELANIE PILLACA-GUTIERREZ | OFFICE OF COUNCILMEMBER ZEKE COHEN

A typical week at my placement begins with the Monday morning team meeting. These meetings are a space to share any updates or announcements with the rest of the team. It also serves as the time to hear about the work Councilmember Cohen and the office will be engaging in for the next few days. These meetings set the tone for the rest of the week and often include a discussion topic where everyone can contribute thoughts and ideas toward decision making. This past Monday we discussed the goals of the office when attending community association meetings across the district. Due to Baltimore opening back up and lowering restrictions, it’s probable that these community meetings and events will resume in person, and therefore the office’s attendance is important. After the beginning of the week meeting, I will check in on any ongoing cases I have, sending follow up emails and replies to messages in my inbox. This is also a good chance to see if I have any questions on how to proceed in any of my cases, if so I can reach out to one of my supervisors. On Tuesday afternoons I’m in charge of checking the voicemail messages. Constituents leave messages every day about concerns and/or questions our office can provide help with. I document the messages in a spreadsheet and then make any necessary call backs for further information.

In the middle of the week, we have our Constituent Services meeting. Currently, there are a lot of us working in constituent services so this meeting is a way for us to share relevant information that could help one another in resolving our own cases. We can also bring up any challenges that we are encountering and ask for advice and feedback in order to address it. I always find this meeting really helpful and I prefer working through a problem by talking it out with others. It’s also interesting to hear what cases the others are working on. When I’m not working on cases I am attending meetings on behalf of the office to take notes, I enjoy these opportunities the most because I always learn something new about Baltimore and how leadership and community engage with different issues. Finally, at the end of the week we have a close team meeting. This is a good way to recap what we worked on and close out any answered questions. These meetings also serve as a way for me to reflect on not only the work I’ve done but on what I learned and how it might serve me in the upcoming weeks.

SUZY SCHLOSBERG | CENTRAL BALTIMORE PARTNERSHIP

A typical day of work at my placement usually begins with me checking my email. Take this past Thursday, July 1st. I began my day at my desk, turned my laptop on, and refreshed my inbox to see if any of the vendors that I had been emailing back and forth with responded. Two new emails appeared, one from a vendor asking me for more details about the event series we’ve been planning these past couple weeks, and a second email from another vendor who had sent us an estimated quote for their services. I forward the second email with the attached quote to my supervisor. I get a GChat message from my supervisor that we need to have a flyer completed for our July 10 event by the end of the day, so I log into Canva. I find the event description, information, and a list of providers on the Google Sheets we made for scheduling needs, and I begin to transcribe all the important details to a Canva flyer template, one that I had created for an event last week. During this process, I realize that I don’t have the registration link for the event, and I email one of our partners at the Cecil-Kirk Recreation Center for the information. An hour or so later, the flyer was completed, and sent to my supervisor. With some time on my hands before I have a brainstorming session with my supervisor and calls lined up in the afternoon, I begin inventorying youth programs and opportunities on a partner database, Baltimore’s Promise.

After manually entering a few programs, it’s time for my call with my supervisor. We discussed items in progress, notes from the previous day’s food policy action meeting, follow-up emails needed to be sent, the status of the shirts we wanted screen-printed, and invoices that needed to be filled. I also submitted the final design for the event series poster with the dates and times. After an hour, we then jumped onto a different call with the RURO team to discuss collaboration on the outdoor programming series, and decided on potential dates as well as fitness activities. After that call concluded, we then met with members of the DELL project to figure out youth facilitation and project management for a roundtable discussion about the digital divide that would be held at the beginning of August. After this meeting concluded, it was about time for the day to wrap up. I finished up by inventorying a few other programs in the Baltimore’s Promise database, and signed off. Overall, I’ve been meeting lots of new people everyday during various meetings, and feel like there’s definitely a routine established!

STACEY TANG | THREAD

This week, we finally started meeting the kids and going through orientation at our Thread worksite for the Youthworks program! I was extremely nervous coming in on Monday morning because I wasn’t quite sure what to expect but to my surprise, the kids that came were very interactive and enthusiastic and there was a lot less awkward silence than I initially braced for. While we had 16 kids on our roster, the turnout was much smaller than that due to the struggles that a lot of students were facing with registering for summer school. During our break that day, Nyasha showed the team a picture of what it was like at Dunbar High School. The sidewalk outside the school was packed with students and their parents trying to sign up and sign in for summer school, and all I could see were endless lines that seemed like they were going nowhere. While I knew that it would probably be a chaotic first day, the chaos captured in that one picture far exceeded all the initial thoughts I had. This seemed to carry through into my virtual space as well as I monitored a hefty amount of requests asking about summer school sign ups, payments, and all sorts of mishaps that happened to students during their first few days in their respective programs. It was troubling to think of all of the frustration these students and their family members must feel, but I also questioned if everyone in Youthworks was having an equally difficult experience.

After hearing through the Bites session that other work placement sites seemed to be a bit smoother, something was not clicking in regards to the Youthworks experience I am seeing versus the one that I believe other sites were seeing. Is it because of the broken systems and intricacies created by summer school? Was Thread not organized enough? Who is truly to blame here? It’s slightly frustrating that I can’t put one finger on a reason why things are the way they are, but at this point, I feel that I can only acknowledge the current situation and deal with it. As I come into the following weeks with the students at my worksite, I hope to be able to get to know them better as well as introduce them to practical skills that could be applied in everyday life. Having these opportunities to interact with the students has been one of the greatest highlights of this week and I hope that they will continue to be for the remainder of the Youthworks program!

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