06.08.2016

What the Intern Knew

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you may have been wondering where I disappeared to recently. Was I off on another maternity leave? Traveling the world? Silently moping in my office? Actually no, I’ve been working with our web developers on the new website you see here today.

How did I end up entangled with the website? Isn’t my specialty climate change? Well it is, but it turns out I have hidden skills—and one of them is working with websites. I owe it all to internships.

One of my very first internships was working on the website of the (now sadly defunct) Boston Phoenix. That is where I got my first exposure to html, Photoshop, and working with digital platforms.

Did my internship allow me to build NCSE’s new website from scratch? Heck no! But my background from all those years ago gave me a leg-up when working with the developers to move the site forward and translating their gnarly jargon.

My own experience explains why I have been such a strong advocate for having interns at NCSE. Internships can teach skills that interns just won’t get in school. Our interns learn how to do research that’s different from research for a school paper.  They dig into the sources of sources, study the history of an area and its political players, and discover how to better work with a community or address an issue. They get hands-on experience working on the back-end of our website, how to run social media campaigns, and collaborate with our colleagues at other organizations.

Our most recent intern, Kate Heffernan, took our Scientist in the Classroom program from a mere thought to a reality that benefitted nearly 1,500 students in the first year. This required research, collaboration, and outreach of kinds that she had never done before. Although Kate is of course a powerhouse, she did this as a mentee, working with the staff here at NCSE to guide her on her way.

Another intern, Rachel Connelly, led a collaboration among multiple agencies to create the National Climate Assessment Learning Pathways, available now on Climate.gov. She had to create and maintain connections and coordinate the necessary research to arrive at a finished product. Again, Rachel received support and training while being mentored by staff here at NCSE.

This summer we have two amazing interns. Yayla, whom you’ve already met, and Nia who will be joining us at the end of the month. I’m looking forward to working with them and giving them the kind of support, knowledge, and training that I received as an intern. Of course our goals are to give them training relevant to their desired near-future trajectories. But who knows? Maybe in 20 years they will pull the skills they learned here out of their back pockets and use them in ways they never anticipated.

So, if you like the new website, you have the Boston Phoenix to thank. We hope to do the same for our interns—not just for their immediate future, but for years to come.

Want to support a summer intern? Contact Minda for more information!