2022 Week 4: Non-profit Management

Photo of Genesis Aire, smilingGenesis Aire | Public Justice Center

My goal this summer was to gain familiarity with nonprofit legal work which would hopefully provide more clarity on what I’d like to do post-grad. I also wanted to meet more members of the Baltimore community who dedicate themselves to correcting the systemic inequality that has affected Baltimore for decades. I suppose a goal that I hadn’t anticipated wanting to achieve is a healthy work balance schedule. While I don’t frequently turn in work late during the school year, I have struggled with time management for as long as I can remember. I wouldn’t consider myself irresponsible, but I could benefit from starting bigger assignments earlier on. I guess I was a bit naive in thinking that these bad habits wouldn’t follow me into the workplace. I also know I have a tendency to be a bit hard on myself, but I can’t help but nitpick my work to a point where I think it’s presentable for my supervisors. I’ve been given various assignments and have been able to meet the agreed upon timeline, however, I’ve found myself stressing a bit more than I think I should have been. I end up spending the day double and triple-checking my work when in reality, that could’ve been done the night before. If the feedback I receive contains a simple mistake such as a spelling error, I feel embarrassed and ashamed. The work I do should not be falling prey to these easy mistakes. I feel like it shows a lack of effort and I feel as though I’m wasting my supervisor’s time.

This summer I hope to improve my time management skills and figure out the ideal working environment. Now that I have more assignments, I’m realizing that my room is a less than ideal workplace. There are plenty of places I could go. CIIP has given all of us remote workers Impact Hub subscriptions and I also live close to campus where the library is. I feel a bit silly for not realizing this earlier in the summer because I also struggle to focus on schoolwork in my room. I want to make sure that I’m doing a thorough job with the assignments I’ve been given but also make a concentrated effort to go above and beyond what is expected of me. I’m strongly considering working for the PJC past the summer, but I want to make sure that I’m a valuable addition to a team of so many hardworking people. Frankly, I feel like I’m falling a bit short of my own expectations. It’s always a bit complicated balancing my mental and physical health with my own expectations of my work because ideally, I could prioritize both but unfortunately that’s not always the case.

Photo of Rebecca Baxter, smiling Rebecca Baxter | Corner Team, Inc.

This week was the first week of camp at Corner Team, and it was really great to get to start meeting all the kids who will be participating this summer. I was definitely nervous for the first day of teaching, because no matter how much planning you do, you can’t predict the personality or energy of the kids, so you never know how they will react to your lesson until the day of. However, the first day went surprisingly well and many of the kids were actually more engaged in the lesson than I expected them to be. There are a lot of students who seem to have a lot of say and are always willing to take any opportunity given to them to share their thoughts, and it is really great that these kids already seem to feel like their voice and thoughts matter. One of my goals for the next few weeks is to see if I can figure out a way for some of the quieter kids to be able to share any thoughts that they have in a way that feels comfortable. As a quiet person myself, I’m never super comfortable speaking up in class, so I might try to brainstorm some things I would be comfortable with and see if they work for the kids too.

One thing I’ve been thinking about a lot this week is the importance of the process rather than the product. When I designed the STEM lessons that the kids will be working through, I was thinking more in terms of a list of things that I wanted the kids to learn by the end of the summer. Obviously, I’m still going to try to teach them those things, but this week we had a lot of discussions where the students or the other staff members would bring up different points or connections that I never would have thought of. For example, when doing an engineering lesson, we had a really interesting discussion about using engineering in football to decrease risk of CTE and about how mental health and the physical make-up of the brain are connected. This week has made me realize that aside from wanting to teach the kids some new things, I also want to have a goal of teaching them to think in different ways and to make connections between topics and areas of their lives that they haven’t before.

Photo of Ayla Frost, smilingAyla Frost | Station North Tool Library

Though I wouldn’t say my main goals for the summer have changed significantly, I do think I have added a variety of goals. This week I’ve been feeling a little frustrated and I am trying to pinpoint why. I think I have been feeling a little overwhelmed by the tasks assigned to me. I am in charge of planning Fix it Fair, an event where the Tool Library assembles a team of expert fixers and invites the community in to learn fixing techniques and repair an item from their home. It’s a really cool event, and I am really excited about the ideology going into it. That being said, I have never really planned an event before, nor have I been to the Fix it Fair, so I feel like I am going in blind. Things keep popping up that I need to do, and there are days when my to-do list feels way too ambitious, and I’m always disappointed when I can’t do everything I set out to do. That being said, there are days when I am surprised by how much I can do in a day of straight focus (whereas my productivity time in the school year is always squeezed between classes, work, etc.) I think I have also felt frustrated about how I feel like I can’t be independent. I feel like I spend a decent amount of time waiting for/asking for feedback. I wish I could be more independent and helpful, but I also feel like I need the feedback. I am also struggling with balancing doing quality work, getting to know co-workers/building meaningful relationships, and setting boundaries for myself. There are times when I feel like I can’t engage with my coworkers if I want to finish my work, which feels a little rude and always bums me out a bit.

Guess I needed to rant a little – still love the placement though! I guess I’d say some of my new goals are figuring out how to balance work, relationships, and boundaries. I also am realizing I need to make a slightly more concerted effort if I want to learn the tools and how to use them, which is something I will definitely be acting on!! (Signing up for a cutting board class tomorrow hopefully!!)

Photo of Neal Lim, smiling Neal Lim | Baltimore Urban Baseball Association

This week, our cohort celebrated the midway point of the 2022 CIIP program with a trip to Camden Yards! I hadn’t been to an Orioles game in a while, so while it felt great to be back at Camden Yards with a crowd of spectators, my experience also felt different than any previous time I went to the ballpark because of my time spent with the Baltimore Urban Baseball Association this summer.

Our cohort was seated behind left field, so the main diamond (where all the action takes place) was on the opposite end of the stadium from us. From our seats, all the players looked like action figures, and the ball was no more than a white speck, or, if moving, a white blur. With our far perspective, the ball seemed to calmly float through the air while the batter serenely ran toward the next base.

I knew that the complete opposite was the case. I’ve seen many great college athletes strike out at a ball pitched to them at 70 mph from 30 feet away. The average fastball thrown by an Orioles or Rangers pitcher is about 95 mph, and the pitcher’s mound is 60.5 feet away from home plate. I had no idea how any of the batters were able to hit the ball, much less hit a perfect line-drive down the center the very few times they were able to do it. I can only imagine how much concentration and hard work the athletes put in before they even stepped up to the plate after witnessing young athletes put in hours of work every day to learn to hit a ball pitched at a fraction of the speed and distance.

Sometimes, I feel like our work is like this baseball game. From an outside perspective, our efforts and experiences may seem small or inconsequential, but to people that understand what we do, our hard work is appreciated and understood. Regardless, as long as we put forth our whole effort in our work, it can be fun and rewarding (though not a walk in the park).

Photo of Amira Rady, smiling Amira Rady | Fusion Partnerships

Something that has been on my mind a lot frequently is that I worry I may not finish some of the projects I’m working on; with projects around event planning/attendance; internal/external communication; grant research; and more, I feel I have taken many steps to begin each project, but often feel like I’m switching back and forth between them. Although this can create the feeling that I may not be doing enough or that I am not making as much progress as I want to, I realize that I need to rework my definition of progress and success regarding my internship. I do feel on track, but I acknowledge that 8 weeks is not that long to really iron out so many different projects. However, what I can do is help to build a robust foundation for each overarching goal involved in the projects. I don’t need to “finish” a project in a traditional sense to be able to leave an impact at my partner site. A lot of what I am working on right now is buildable; I am creating a project that can easily be continued by Fusion staff and maybe even the next CIIP intern. In the next few weeks, I hope to allocate my time to each project more intentionally. For the past few weeks, I have been working on a project as relevant tasks come up in the office, but I would like to divide my time to really devote my full attention to each project I’m working on. I tend to plan out my days in my personal life using a daily/hourly planner, and I think this would be a good habit to integrate in my work day so that I can make sure I don’t let any one project fall through the cracks. I am looking forward to what I can create with the Fusion staff and what impact it will make even after my internship is over.

Photo of Jane Slaughter, smilingJane Slaughter | Impact Hub

This week at Impact Hub involved a lot of self-guided work, as I just had one major article to write throughout the week, a long reflection of the Small Business Mini-Summit from two weeks prior. Due to the fact that it was the midpoint of the summer, I was feeling pretty burnt out and writing this piece took me a lot longer than weeks prior. For this reason, a lot of my work was self-paced and I was not working alongside the Impact Hub team as much. However, on Wednesday a past Impact Hub CIIP alum came to go to lunch with me and my supervisor, which was a great way to get advice from someone who used the tools and messages learned at Impact Hub for her career following Hopkins. A lot of the advice given to me throughout the lunch revolved around the fact that while finding a job can be stressful and daunting, the skills learned at Impact Hub have been useful and vital to past interns. This was great to hear from someone else who had the same placement as me. This lunch also allowed me to get to know my supervisor a bit better, in a space that was not as work-oriented.

This week I also began working more deeply on getting an outline done for my major summer project of an Impact Report. This has felt like kind of a daunting project because of its scale, but two of my supervisors have been very supportive and helpful. What I expected to be a project solely guided by me, in actuality has been a team effort. We are beginning to interview members and partners for this project this week, and I am really excited to start working on compiling these interviews into different stories and recognizing themes within select stories.