Finding my Place: Personal Contributions at Ripple Effect Images

When Ripple Effect agreed to take me on as an intern this summer, I struggled at first with understanding my personal impact since my role was not official and did not exist until my supervisor met me. I felt that there was not a clear direction for the work I would be doing and I did not want to end up being a burden to the organization. But through communication with my supervisor and taking initiatives in small ways, I found my place.

My first task for my internship was to research the details of a giant list of grantmaking organizations to see which ones might be a good fit for our organization. I spent a lot of time on this work, thinking it sounded very important, but in my conversations with my boss, there did not seem to be much of a push for me to finish the list by a certain time. I struggled to find a balance between pushing myself to work many hours to finish the list thoroughly and quickly, and also realizing that this was not the biggest priority for the organization at the moment and I did not have to stress out over it. Eventually, through conversations with my supervisor and feedback on my spreadsheets and reports, I found a balance in my work and her expectations. This experience at the beginning of my internship made clear the importance of open communication, and of not being afraid to ask for clarification of expectations in a leader-follower relationship. At the end of my grant research project, I was able to provide several documents of information that would help Ripple Effect know where to begin applying for grants. Although I did not get to see the conversations or application processes that ensued from my research, my supervisor told me at the end of my project how helpful my information would be as they continued on, and this confirmation was validating to hear.

An assignment that I worked on this summer where I could really see my impact was in my research for diverse photojournalism projects. Ripple has been working on expanding a new initiative called “Photography for Good,” a program that encourages photographers to use their skills for causes they believe in. As part of this initiative, we feature photojournalism projects that bright light to unique issues and solutions on our Photography for Good Instagram page. For this project, I was assigned the task of searching for photojournalism projects from diverse photographers (specifically searching for diversity in race, ethnicity and nationality) to feature on our account. This task required using databases, reading websites in Spanish, reaching out to photographers in French, analyzing photography, and comparing all of this information to our initiative’s goals in order to find the best fits. My work on this project continues, but one exciting result is that a photographer I found was chosen by the social media team to be a featured project!

Another element of my internship where I see a value in my contributions is in the social media aspects of Photography for Good. From my experience as Head of Marketing and Communications for my a cappella group and with my identity as a college student and social media user interested in photography, I feel that my perspective is helpful as we try to grow our following. By taking initiative to search for strategies and presenting them to our team in a meeting, I felt the value in my perspective and I am excited to continue offering my ideas as this project continues in the fall.

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