The inside scoop on what it’s like to work at a Non Governmental Organization (NGO) – by Anna Abrams, Content Marketing Intern at the WorldTeach US office, Summer 2016
Like most undergraduate students, I started my summer internship search during my winter break away from school. I stumbled upon WorldTeach after reading about their summer volunteer abroad programs. After contemplating prices and whether I wanted to go away the summer before study abroad in the fall, I decided instead to reach out to WorldTeach in the hopes of maybe working at their main office in Boston. I met with Nolan Sutker, the Director of Communications in Middlebury, Vermont a few weeks later to chat over coffee and learn about WorldTeach.
Fast forward five months and I’m starting my first day in the Harvard Square office as the WorldTeach Content Marketing Intern. Other than a bulleted list of job duties, I really had no idea what to expect from my internship. Here I was, a small-town Vermonter moving to Boston and starting a brand new job. I had never bought my own groceries, mastered a city’s public transportation system nor had a whole summer to explore one city, and I was nervous, but definitely ready. The first day was filled with a lot of introductions, icebreakers and feeling a little overwhelmed. After some orientation videos and then a few group discussions, the communications interns were put to the task of creating some sort of creative skit to demonstrate the experience of a WorldTeach volunteer. After a bit of struggling, we came up with a mash-up song of “When I’m Gone” and “I Will Survive,” and we survived the first day of our internship. (Check out our fabulous lyrics here – the first three stanzas are to the tune of “When I’m Gone” and the last two are to “I Will Survive”)
The first few days were a lot. I remember when it really sank it that I would have to post on Facebook daily. “How am I supposed to think of something new and creative to post 5 days a week for 10 weeks? That’s 50 different posts!” I can still remember the stress I felt before posting for the first time on Facebook, and asking Nolan, the Director of Communications, to triple check that the wording was okay and that I didn’t have any spelling errors. Now I only have one day left in my internship with a handful of posts left to do, and I find myself feeling nostalgic. It’s actually really fun searching for articles or videos you think people will like and find interesting!
So what does the WorldTeach Content Marketing Intern do? As I said before, I post on Facebook. I also Tweet, post volunteer opportunities on GoOverSeas, GoAbroad, Peace Corps, TFA etc… post on LinkedIn, send out the monthly newsletters to over 7,000 people, reach out to people who have withdrawn applications to see if they would like to reapply at some point, create instagram pictures for #yogaday or #dogday, and I help make sure our Instagram takeover is running smoothly – to name a few of my duties. So if you’ve gotten an email from WorldTeach Publicity this summer, that’s me! It’s a pretty cool feeling to be in charge of such an important email account, and someone actually called the office the other day asking to speak with me because they knew my name from those emails.
In addition to those duties, I also find new ways to reach out to people, and one of my latest ideas was creating a WorldTeach Snapchat account. After combing through articles on how Snapchat is great for nonprofits and businesses, we decided to give it a try. Once the account really gets up and rolling, a blog post for it will be published, so stay tuned! I’m excited to see how it transforms even when I’m no longer working at the office. Another goal of mine this summer was to reach 6,500 likes on our Facebook page, and I’m happy to say that at the moment we are at 6,595 likes (a few of them being my parents and close friends).
One of my favorite aspects of this internship is the blog posts. One of my duties is reading people’s incredible blogs and then getting to share them with everyone. It’s awesome. I’m so lucky to get to read about every single person’s WorldTeach experience and scroll through amazing photos trying to select just one for the cover photo. Believe me, people have SO many fantastic photos! If you ever need convincing about whether you should do something, I say read firsthand blog posts. I can remember reading some blogs and after seeing the pictures just simply thinking, I need to move to the Marshall Islands, or Colombia or American Samoa… Or any of these places right now.
The WorldTeach office is a great place to be. I’ve had a few internships before this one, and this is definitely one of the more fun and friendly places to be. Everyone knows who you are, and people always check in and chat about current events or weekend plans. We are also all part of a plank challenge. At 5:00PM everyday, a number of us get down on hands and knees for our daily planks. Despite our business casual work outfits, we do up and downs, leg lifts, thread the needles and even downward dogs at the end to stretch. We all motivate each other, and it’s a fun way to close out each day. About every week or so, we also have an office dog to play with, and her name is Lanikai. The WorldTeach Cambridge office is a great environment to collaborate, feel comfortable and supported.
The intern program is a really great part of WorldTeach, and I love seeing the other departments interns in programs, finance and education. The communications interns get lunch together everyday, and it’s a nice break to enjoy the sunshine in Harvard Square. We either get burritos from Felipe’s, Froyo from BerryLine (where fellow intern Christina works), coffee and sweet potato chips from Crema Cafe, or the occasional pulled pork salad from Bon Me at the Food Truck plaza. We also work really hard. There are so many new projects to tackle, and I’ve learned so much. I thought I knew a lot about Facebook before working here, but it turns out my occasional posts about college life only skim the surface of the capabilities and potential of Facebook. I’ve learned how to target and boost posts, schedule posts for days I’m not in the office, see if more people look at our page on their phone or computer, what specific times of day people are on our Facebook page and more. I’ve also learned how ads on Google target people, how to create canned responses on Gmail, campaigns on Mailchimp, queries on Kintera, and update the WorldTeach website homepage.
This summer has been great, not only because I’ve got to live in a new city, but because I’ve had the chance to work alongside people who are excited about the same things as me. This summer has furthered my passion for international education, and given me more clarity in what I might want to do when I graduate, and even farther along down the road. I came into this internship already having some experience living abroad during a gap year after high school, and now I’m only more convinced that I will spend more time abroad in my education and career. This summer felt like the perfect experience to gear me up towards my semester abroad in Cameroon this fall. I asked numerous people in the office about visa applications, mosquito nets, water filters and malaria pills, and basically everyone had great advice because they’ve all had experience abroad. They’re also wonderful role models, which makes leaving here really hard. It’s sad to see this summer end, though I’m definitely ready for my next adventure, and the many more that are sure to come after that.
I’ve included a couple quotes from my fellow communications interns here this summer on what their favorite aspects of the internship were:
Ella Jenak – Alumni Engagement Intern: “The best part of my role here at WorldTeach has been interacting with alumni who continue to be overwhelmingly enthusiastic and passionate about WorldTeach, whether they just returned or they volunteered before I was born (rock on!).”
Christina Kaltcheva – Program Support Intern: “There are so many great things about interning at WorldTeach. The fun and friendly office community is huge, from doing planks as an office every day, to having chats with your neighbor, to daily lunches with your fellow interns. Also, as a WorldTeach intern, you won’t just be doing typical intern administrative work, you work on real projects that have an actual effect on the organization. The work you do is interesting, involved, and you have the opportunity to make it your own.”
Peter O’Donnell – Campus Outreach Intern: “The best part about my role here at WorldTeach has been interacting with various schools to find the best students to become WorldTeach volunteers. It was incredible to learn about all the programs and to have insight on how complex non-profit work is. It also comes full swing, as a former Namibia Summer volunteer, to see how WorldTeach works so hard to give volunteers the best experience possible. (hurray!)”
Sylvia Gao – Marketing Analytics Intern: “This is a really good place to start my first internship in America. I love the feeling transferring every small effort to actually useful attributes to WorldTeach, to the society and to people around the world. Yes I also love everyone who works here. And thanks for all your help to make me a better person.”