Although it is still very early in my summer internship experience, I have already had the opportunity to contribute to my ideas and experience with leadership studies to the development of my summer project. The first couple weeks that I have worked with the Fieldstone Leadership Network San Diego have consisted of me establishing exactly what—and exactly how much—I will be contributing this summer.
Fieldstone rarely takes on summer interns, and I am currently the only one active. Therefore, I have been able to organize and shape the internship into an experience that enables me to contribute my leadership studies major as much as possible. In the past weeks, I have contributed my ideas mostly to the conceptualization of a project called “Leaders in the Field: Profiles During the Pandemic.” This project, initially suggested by my supervisor, is a limited newsletter focused on telling the stories of various nonprofit leaders in San Diego as they navigate COVID-19. My supervisor intends for me to have mostly free range over the project so that I can organize and execute it in the most effective way possible. After many Zoom calls with my supervisor, we decided it would be best to create blog-style posts based on interviews I will conduct with each nonprofit leader. Each post will focus on a different leader, and they will all be published on Fieldstone’s website. Originally, I suggested pairing each leader with a different theory of leadership, such as transformational, charismatic and servant leadership. My supervisor noted that the goal of the project is not just to spread information about leadership theories directly, but to center the leader being interviewed and the wisdom they impart. It should also be a celebration of the triumphs of these leaders, many of which are considered essential workers. Keeping that perspective in mind, I shifted my original idea by creating interview questions pertaining to the leaders’ own stories, and not to leadership theories overtly. Instead of creating individual questions for each interview based on a different theory of leadership, I finalized a set of 10 standard questions that still allow for the emergence of leadership theories in their answers. The questions, created with the help of my supervisor, relate to changes in leadership and communication methods, changes in practicing wellness and new visions of leadership after the pandemic. After these set questions, I will then ask more specific questions about that leader’s experiences. However, I intend to weave applicable leadership theories into each post I write. I suggested that the last post could be based more on the theme of leadership after COVID-19 rather than another individual story. This post could draw from all the interviews previously conducted.
I also contributed to the decision of how many leaders to interview. Initially, I suggested reaching out to 10 and interviewing the leaders as I write the posts. My supervisor and I both concluded soon after that I could interview twice that amount in a short period of time (two weeks) and write the posts once all interviews have been conducted. This past week, I reached out to 18 of the potential 22 nonprofit leaders about scheduling interviews. The first interview will take place Monday afternoon. I hope to secure the opportunity to ask in each interview if they have a specific leadership theory or philosophy that has helped to guide them through the uncertainty and hardship of the pandemic. This would be extremely helpful for when I draw from already existing leadership theories in each post.