One aspect of my work this summer which has been particularly beneficial for me is how seriously Voices of September 11th takes their internship program. It is clear that they appreciate having interns, and that they want them to get as much out of the opportunity as possible. That being said, I feel as if the internship program is really a two-way street, in that interns perform crucial work for the company’s progression, and also gain important experience in doing so.
For this reason, the relationships between staff members are very equitable and positive. Everyone gets along well, and each opinion is valued equally. The office is very small, with only six fulltime staff members and four interns. This allows for open communication within the office, and universal participation. Each person has their area of interest, but everyone is involved in the general progression and development of the organization. For example, there are staff meetings each week, usually Monday mornings for about an hour and a half. These meetings are intended not just for the higher up staff members, but for everyone, including the interns. It is a very open discussion, where everyone discusses their current tasks and projects, and we are all able to share our opinions on how to move forward. It is a very collaborative environment, and I really enjoy that everyone in the office is really on a level playing field. It makes for a far less intimidating and more welcoming environment where I am more inclined to share my opinions.
This constructive leader/follower dynamic is also manifested in the wide variety of work I have been given. Oftentimes you hear about interns that merely sit around and get coffee when their bosses ask them to. This is certainly not the case at Voices of September 11th. I have been given several tasks which are meaningful and important to the success of the organization. For example, I have written newsletters which later appear on the organization’s website, I have taken phone calls, and am free to make any and all suggestions during staff meetings. You can tell that there is a strong sense of equality within the office, where no opinion is of lesser value than another. I really value this positive leader/follower dynamic, and I feel that it makes everyone work more effectively.