Development intern Julia Cheng reflects on their summer internship with Pay Our Interns, and their work on National Intern Day.

As summer internships and fellowships begin winding down, we’ve asked some of our POI interns and fellows to reflect on their time with the organization. Thank you to all for participating!

I joined Pay Our Interns from June to August as a Development Intern. As part of the Development Team, there were regular tasks that I kept up with, but the amount of flexibility and freedom afforded to me by my supervisor was invaluable. I was given time to acclimate myself with the culture of my new work environment, to learn about the work being done, and to get familiarized with the goals Pay Our Interns was working to achieve. It was with this information I was able to talk to my supervisor about where I wanted to direct my energy, and this resulted in a month-long effort I’m extremely proud of.

National Intern Day was Thursday, July 29th this year, and I had spoken to my supervisor about wanting to take on a role which would give me experience in managing social media, and here was an opportunity to take on this sort of responsibility by managing the month-long social media push leading up to National Intern Day.

For the month of July, I kept up a daily posting calendar, created graphics and drafted copy to be published, and made sure posts were going out at the same time every day. On July 29th, it was incredible to see the work we had been doing all month pay off in the form of engagement on our social media, news hits, and an increased number of signatures gathered for a petition to the Department of Labor. We were able to get more than 37,000 signatures on the petition – and I was proud to have played such a key role. 

My experience at Pay Our Interns was different from other internships, in that I had a lot of independence to exercise my creativity and curiosity. Asking questions and asking for different responsibilities was encouraged and expected, and my supervisor was there to not only oversee projects, but offer guidance on the different ways I could be involved. In addition to the flexibility to pursue my work interests, I was also able to form my own schedule, something which helped how I approached projects. When I was allowed to complete projects on my own time, I found that I could dedicate more attention to certain tasks, and didn’t need to overhaul my schedule completely. I believe the flexibility made the quality of my work better, and is something workplaces and internships can learn from as the work from home model expands.

Through my work on National Internship Day  project, as well as my time with Pay Our Interns overall, I was able to learn and develop my skills beyond my original expectations.. The room I was given to explore my goals and work on things which interested me helped me to develop my skills in project management, content creation, outreach and collaborative work. If I had been given only a laundry list of tasks and grunt work that my supervisor wanted me to complete, I would never have been able to learn and grow as much as I had.

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