Intern Blog | October 2012
Welcome to our Intern Blog!
Please note that the views of our interns do not represent the views of PLEN as an organization.
Working in the Non-Profit Sector? Is it for me?
My name is Preethi Varma and I worked as a PLEN office intern this past summer. I am a 3rd year at University of Virginia majoring in Public Policy and Gender Studies. I’ve always been interested in working in Washington, D.C. The hub of no nonsense politics was where I always wanted to be. That being said, I received an eye-opening internship with PLEN, a small non-profit organization in the heart of Farragut Square. The skills I learned at PLEN will be with me throughout my career endeavors, and the insight on our nation’s capital will stay with me for a lifetime.
My day as an intern first consisted of me trudging along in the DC metro which allowed me to write a number of notable #metroprobs via twitter. (That was quite the experience). Every morning I was greeted by the wonderful PLEN staff members and interns who were from all around the country. Then, I delved into numerous research and outreach tasks for the staff members. These tasks generally involved looking at potential corporate sponsors, prepping a brief summary before a meeting, and even researching the benefits of using Pinterest as a marketable online platform.
Aside from my metro adventures, I learned that non-profits along with governmental agencies are what DC is run on. The little things that are done, really is what matters. However, non-profits are often overshadowed by strong governmental agencies and corporations. As a PLEN intern, I was truly able to gain the experience within the non-profit sector. For those interested in the non-profit sector or simply influencing social change, here are three things I have learned this past summer that might be helpful to you.
- Social media is a wonderful tool. Period. AND for the most part, it’s free; use it. I helped create the Pinterest account for PLEN, and it turns out that an overwhelming amount of Pinterest users is the group that PLEN wishes to target. Who knew? I also started a personal Twitter, Pinterest and a LinkedIn account this past summer. It seems like a lot but these are new tools that we MUST make the most of in order for people to acknowledge different issues or causes.
- That being said, social networking whether it is online or in person is a skill that is needed in every profession. I believe those who succeed in the non-profit industry are those who are the best at social networking.
- Celebrate the small victories. PLEN is small, yet well-known throughout DC. It took 35 years of small victories for PLEN to get where it is now. For example, I was ecstatic to find out that our Pinterest will be launched as a new marketing tool for PLEN. It is nice to know that I was part of a small outreach initiative that might attract even more PLEN members and attendees in our near future. Consequently, bringing more college women to DC.
I believe the non-profit sector is very important. It is a needed sector with some of the most passionate and patient individuals who work often for little or no compensation. It’s an area that requires a tremendous amount of patience and flexibility and I truly admire anyone who decides to pursue the nonprofit industry. The skills that one learns in this area are skills that transcend any profession. But is the non-profit sector for me? After a great summer, I just don’t see myself in a career working in a non-profit organization. Just not right now, maybe in the future? I have a tremendous amount of passion toward social change, and I wish to see if these non-profit skills and ambition will be transferable to governmental agencies and corporations. In other words, I just wish to gain more exposure to different industries in Washington, D.C.
From what I learned this past summer, the nonprofit industry is propelled by two things; ambition and caffeine. People in this industry, from what I have experienced are working towards greater social good by any means possible. Whether it is striving for a $100 donation or a lifelong corporate sponsor towards educating young women, it is one of the most honorable professions. Likewise, these professionals KNOW how to celebrate those small victories; maybe I will work in the non-profit industry one day, maybe not. But for now, I want to see if I can learn what skills I can develop from different organizations and apply what I’ve learned thus far to future endeavors in Washington, D.C.