2021 Week 5: Virtual Internships

HUIYAO CHEN | BALTIMORE JOB HUNTERS SUPPORT GROUP

Week 5 has been a significant week of learning and connecting (both dots and people). Aside from completing the second round of revision for the Green Guide, I have also made slide presentations for two articles on hiring biases and “what to do if I hate my job”. The slide-making gives me a good opportunity to closely read and study these two topics. The hiring bias article made me realize how sometimes seemingly innocent wordings and questions could be detrimental and harmful in the hiring setting; some other times, biases could come simply from names. For instance, the name bias and a series of studies on “whitening” names on a resume show how racial disparity and discrimination could prevail in people’s jobs and life in just a few letters. The job description bias studies found that the “male-gendered” word in job descriptions could deter female candidates’ willingness to apply. And the biased interview questions present how seemingly casual questions like “How did you get to work today” or “What did you do this weekend” could have embedded problematic intentions in the hiring scenario. The “I hate my job” article guides me to explore 7 common reasons why one might “hate” one’s job, how it feels like, and the possible options to deal with it. And it delivers the message that exploring the underlying causes of a feeling and how/whether one could make a change regarding the issue and the situation are crucial. These notes from the two articles are really worth remembering regardless of one is in a job seeking or a job offering position.

Another surprise that I really appreciate from this week is the mid-point checking meeting with Bentley, my supervisor Janet, and Kaitlyn. Not only did the cheerfulness in the (zoom) room fully lightened up my day, the accidental finding that Kaitlyn, Janet, and I share a common professional/personal interest and experience in theatre arts was a total shining moment, thanks to Bentley’s check-in questions. And it is so wonderful to find that how theatre arts could interplay with what we are doing now and may have the potential to initiate and facilitate changes.

CIONNE GATES | BY PEACEFUL MEANS

Ever since high school, I feel like I have been cultivating my passion for working with kids and young adults by immerging myself in various ventures dedicated to them. Through this specific experience, I gain more understanding for the behaviors of younger adolescents (ages 3 – 7 years old) and how their mind absorbs the information that they are learning. One skill that is required when interacting with all children, but mainly young kids is patience. Currently, we are still executing camp on an online platform, so patience digitally has to be implemented in a different way. For instance, asking questions or giving them tasks to do requires high levels of patience as a teacher and human being, because they may not have all the resources at home that school can provide, and technical difficulties can misconstrue communication between other colleagues and the students. Thankfully, I try to live my life in the most optimistic way and establish a positive environment for any child to thrive in. In terms of going forward, I hope to provide the same courtesy to adults in my future profession regarding high degrees of patience. Another skill I acquired is ensuring that presentations or assignments I have to complete is due before the deadline, so this gives me time to prepare and think retrospectively on how an average six-year-old would pay attention to the lesson. Even though I teach my math class on alternating days, there are other tasks like finding books to read aloud and upload to the YouTube channel every day. Therefore, this internship has instilled this persistent motivation to complete my work ahead of set timelines while still thinking retrospectively to the mind of a child. Usually, I sometimes tend to procrastinate when finishing projects, but my passion for children serves as a motivating fuel to continue the effort I am putting in.

Nonetheless, these skills in addition to countless others will help my future profession as a clinical child psychologist, which will take more academic effort in grad school. Upon graduating undergrad, one major life goal is to be apart of Teach for America, so I can get firsthand experience teaching for an extensive amount of time in an area unfamiliar to me. Personally, I feel the best teachers are the ones who are exposed to the transformations of the world and how we discuss that in our classrooms. Education is such an important aspect to a child’s development, and I just hope I can help them achieve an optimistic mindset that they too can change the world.

KUSH KATARIA | JUBILEE ARTS

I have learned a lot through this internship so far and cannot wait to learn more. My supervisor at Jubilee Arts has tried her best to give me tasks that are more aligned with my future and academic goals. As a business minor at Hopkins, I was interested in learning more about entrepreneurship and getting more experience in marketing and sales. This is part of the reason I am working with the Youth in Business program this summer where I, along with the staff, help guide youth through the entrepreneurship process by coming up with a t-shirt design and then selling those t-shirts for profit. I learned what cooperative economics is and see it play out as youth divide the profit between each other. I also got to do some marketing work by running the Instagram stories every day and creating content for them. I have also been able to create flyers for the design presentations and fashion show.
Furthermore, I was able to learn some design and art skills as well by attending those design lessons and working to create a sellable design that addresses a major social issue today. Jubilee Arts sent me some drawing tools which I have used in the beginning to help brainstorm some thumbnail drawings.

Though this internship hasn’t directly been related to my future goal of going into medicine in any way, it has taught me some valuable skills that are applicable to the medical field as well. For example, I have learned some communication skills by interacting with the youth and going to all the staff meetings which is essential for dealing with patients. I have gained a lot of meaningful experiences so far and met some amazing people and look forward to what these last couple weeks will teach me.

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

Because my work has mainly been office work, I am learning a lot of administrative work. The skills and work I have been doing throughout the summer are valuable and beneficial in the future. By interning at both Out For Justice and the Office of Councilman James Torrence, I have learned the importance of communication and collaboration. A lot of the work I have done at both places has been phone calling and gathering information, and so I understand the significance of clear communication. In addition, my experience at both sites has made me realize how important collaboration is to get things done. It’s great that I get to see both sides of organizations trying to achieve their goals. For example, at Out For Justice, I had to reach out to multiple organizations for donations and support. At the same time, at the councilman’s office, I watched the team talk about grant proposals for nonprofits. It is because of this that I understand the challenge of operating an organization. During this experience, I have also been putting my writing skills to the test. I learned how to draft sponsorship request letters and how hard it is to do the outreach work because of the amount of no’s you receive. All of these skills that I have been using throughout this experience, such as analyzing, communicating, organizational, and research skills, are all essential for my future since I plan on going to law school.

MELANIE PILLACA-GUTIERREZ | OFFICE OF COUNCILMEMBER ZEKE COHEN

This past week was busy and I had the chance to sit in on various types of meetings, from check-ins to past projects I worked on to new experiences attending committee hearings I had no prior knowledge of. It’s through these meetings that I have gained a clearer understanding of what working in the local and state level of government looks like. Prior to this internship my perception of government employees was formed by scarce sources. Watching people from different agencies work in collaboration with each other to resolve issues in the city has been insightful to what a career in government can look like. Being able to sit in on these meetings has also exposed me to the challenges government workers face on a daily basis, mostly due to the bureaucracy and limitations within what their agencies can provide. This is where collaboration with other agencies is important. Relationship building is a crucial tool when serving communities of all sizes with varying needs. Another aspect I have noticed from government employees is that they are thoroughly knowledgeable about the work they partake in, for example the commission members that oversee building permits are experts on historical architecture to the minute detail in areas like Fells Point. Whether this is due to years of experience or driven by passion for their trade, it shows what kind of people find themselves working for local government.

To end the week, I attended a Latinx Community Safety meeting with different community organizations and government stakeholders like the Mayors Office of Immigrant Affairs. I found it very informative and think the particular group that attends these meetings are a great mix to address the concerns of the community. Reflecting on this meeting, I think it has shown me that while creating task forces in reaction to incidents within a community is an appropriate response, it’s equally important to identify strong partners that can address community needs outside of periods of conflict – when the community is thriving.

SUZY SCHLOSBERG | CENTRAL BALTIMORE PARTNERSHIP

I think one big thing that I’ve learned in my internship is taking advantage of the resources that are around me. This Thursday, I went on a site visit to one of the farms owned by the Urban Growers Collective here in Chicago. My supervisor and I had been having some conversations about food security, access, and sustainable food production/distribution. There’s lots of cool work being done in Baltimore on that front, but also there are really amazing things happening in other cities, and in particular, Chicago. Since I am home for the summer and not able to take advantage of some of the opportunities that I would have if I were in Baltimore, we talked about how cool it would be for me to potentially bring back some replicable models of ideas from my hometown to Baltimore. I went into the site visit not sure of exactly what I was hoping to take away from it – Aaron and I had brainstormed some questions I could ask, general ones like what they are focusing on in the food ecosystem and why they are focusing on it— but I didn’t really know what it would be like until I actually got there.

I met two high school students who were working at the farm for the summer, and learning about what they found to be meaningful, and interesting, in their work at the farm ended up translating to something very tangible. I asked one of them what they liked the most about spending their days on the farm, and they said that it’s really nice being able to harvest the vegetables and bring it back home to cook – for example, for Baxter, a rising freshman, his favorite vegetables were the sweet peas, which he would bring home and stir fry. I realized how essential that piece of it is to food— being exposed to new types of foods, being exposed to new ways of consuming and preparing that food. So, I brought that experience back to my supervisor, and we started brainstorming how that could be accomplished locally in Baltimore. We started outlining an event series for the future, one where we could gather a small group of students at our community gardens on extra harvest days, and have them experience harvesting the food, and then send them home with those plants as well as other donated ingredients they could use to turn that into a full, yummy meal. Going to the Urban Growers Collective was a really nice outing for me, both in being able to step out into the city and get fresh air, but it also ended up being a really helpful for CBP work too!

STACEY TANG | THREAD

“If you had to brainstorm a list of potential problems to resolve in the world, what problems would you solve and how would you solve them?”

I was asked this question when I was a junior in high school as part of a Product Engineering and Development class and vividly remember the two ideas I proposed to my classmates: a robot to make it easier to pick up tennis balls on a court and a computer mouse that attaches to your hand. As I asked this question again to the students in the “class” I was facilitating on Thursday for Entrepreneur Week, my mind was racing with all sorts of solutions to everyday minor annoyances like finding parking in a city, the tearful task of cutting onions and the lack of a convenient place to put masks in one’s car. But when we came back together to share the ideas we brainstormed, I was quickly humbled by the problems one student was identifying and brainstorming solutions to.

The problems this particular student identified were much larger and heavier than the minuscule inconveniences I identified. She brought up things like sexual abuse, depression, conflict/violence, and bullying; things that I didn’t think of at all. As we brainstormed solutions to these problems, it was interesting to see the approach that she had. I was geared more towards thinking about products or new gadgets, but she was thinking about programs more focused on education and making communities a safer place to live. By the end of the day, we agreed that the best idea of the day was her solution to resolve sexual abuse: a program where safety devices like pepper spray and personal alarms could be distributed to girls through schools. Even though we don’t have intentions to start a new program or make a new invention, this brainstorming experience has made me realize just how different my experiences are from those of the students that I am working with. To me, things like violence and harassment are very far away and I am fortunate to have never personally experienced something of that nature. However, to the students I work with at Thread, these things are likely weekly or even daily occurrences. Finding solutions to the issues that this particular student brought up are so much more valuable than those of the everyday annoyances I pointed out because, at the end of the day, one’s life or well-being is so much more important than trying to resolve a minuscule nuance of life.

Two years ago, this question that I asked was just another class assignment. But today, this question has allowed me to better understand the context that a lot of students are coming into spaces with and form deeper connections with them. The things we face in life can be challenging, but I believe acknowledging and respecting these differences in life is the backbone of innovation. Our backgrounds are the fundamental core of our ideas and who we are, and it is only when we can come together in a space like Thread that new ideas can be brought to life.

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