The organizational structure of my internship this summer is a part of what made the environment and the overall summer so enjoyable. One of my favorite things about working with the Virginia Holistic Justice Initiative this summer was the closeness of my project team due to the small size of the organization. There were only 11 interns in total as well as our two team leaders and Tom, our supervisor. This made communication among the team simple and comfortable very quickly. Our team leaders encouraged us to text them as soon as a problem arose, reassuring us that we were never bothering them and that it would be more beneficial for us to reach out as much as possible. This built the sort of relationship that made me feel more comfortable reaching out for help, which ultimately made our work better.
Given that the Virginia Holistic Justice Initiative is still a fairly new nonprofit, Tom was very eager to work alongside us to ensure that we were not only doing good work, but also to receive feedback about what he could have been doing better or differently. He was super aware that there was no right or wrong way to accomplish our project and that there was room for improvement in the organization itself, so he was more than willing to hear our opinions and concerns. I believe that by being adaptable, Tom and Virginia Holistic Justice Initiative as a whole created an organizational structure that made interns feel just as valuable to the culture.
This structure also enabled me to do a lot to shape my environment and experience. We were allowed to be as involved in the organization as we wanted. Our work was largely shaped by our own drive to accomplish tasks, and Tom never failed to provide more opportunities to us to get involved in the criminal justice system if that’s what we wanted. Additionally some of the interns, including myself, were separated into another group because we were doing a good job and we were tasked with helping the other interns with their workload. As a part of this sub-group of interns, we were able to collaborate and communicate much easier than we could with the larger team which strengthened our ability to accomplish tasks.