Where are they now? A new series about ODW interns
Why intern? Is it just about getting experience? Or are internships supposed to be meaningful? Is it even worth it to do them these days? These are questions many of us have wrestled with, especially if you’re a student or on the job hunt.
At One Day’s Wages, we believe that interns are…and should be…an integral part of our team. Each of our staff, interns, and volunteers share the everyday menial tasks that come with running a small, grassroots non-profit. We are all adults right?…so we can probably manage getting our own coffee.
From our interns, we expect that they will demonstrate a passion for global development, bring their own skills to the table, and fully participate in helping us roll-out our justice work. So when we hire an intern, our hope is that they get as much out of the experience as we do–both for their future career goals AND for personal fulfillment.
It’s with this goal in mind that we decided to check in on some of our past interns for a new series called “Where are they now?” We’re really curious to see how our internships are impacting former team members and how they are contributing to our world.
We honestly can’t say enough good things about our former Operations Coordinator Intern, Eli Chin. I mean the guy has pizazz.
I first met Eli the week I started at ODW, so about 3 years ago. I was struck by his natural charm and endearing humility. Eli clearly had a passion for our work and was willing to take on whatever tasks were needed to get things done.
At that time he was just finishing up an internship with us as Community Engagement Coordinator. He, of course, had done a spectacular job, and so we hoped he would stick around for a second internship. Thankfully he accepted, and became our Ops Coordinator. Eli impressed us so much over the next year that we eventually hired him as a part-time Project Manager. He recently decided to move to San Francisco, which is where we caught up with him. The following is a Q&A we did with Eli.
What initially attracted you to the ODW internship?
“To be honest, I didn’t really know much about ODW or its work prior to applying for the internship. It wasn’t until my interview that I was completely sold on the organization. It was clear that I wasn’t interviewing for a position to do all the admin work staff didn’t want to do, but rather interviewing for a core role in the organization’s team. Interns make the work happen at ODW, and in return, get a wealth of experience and skill development.”
Why are you passionate about global development and non-profit work?
“I love being part of a community of pragmatic optimists — people that use tangible actions to pursue a more just and equitable world. It is hard not be inspired by the work going on in the non-profit sector right now. People are pushing forward ideas that are transforming lives here and abroad.”
What did you learn while you were an intern?
“Where to begin — ODW’s internship laid the foundation for my professional career. The small team atmosphere at ODW allows interns to dive deep into projects of interest. In my first six months as an intern, I put my hands on an array of projects that helped me figure out my specific interests and what job functions played to my skill set. I appreciated the flexibility of the internship and the team’s focus on making sure I was getting what I wanted out of the internship even if it meant stepping outside the original job description.
“In my interview — back in 2014 — I asked Philip [the Operations Director] what previous interns would say about their experience at ODW. ‘An internship at ODW is what you make it,’ is how he responded. ‘If you really put yourself into it, you will learn a lot.’ It is safe to say that I gained invaluable experience as an intern — you really set the bar for how much you can accomplish and grow while working with the team at ODW.”
What was it that made you want to continue your internship, and eventually come on as staff?
“Once I spent a good amount of time at ODW, I realized not only how valuable its work is to people across the globe, but also the sector at large. It is easy to forget that executing projects and providing services requires significant time and resources. ODW is proof that the collective can come together to make a difference in the lives of others.”
What did you do as a staff at ODW?
“During my time as a staff member, I worked primarily on the operations side of the organization. My work included the launch of a new website and the reconfiguration of the ODW database. A lot of time and effort from everyone on the team made these two projects happen.
“A lot of my work was a ‘figure it out as you go’ type situation. I am not a website expert nor a database expert, but through lots of collaboration (and maybe a bit of luck) we were able to successfully get these projects off the ground. These projects will help ODW do its work better moving forward, which I think is a great team accomplishment.”
What are you up to now?
“I am now working for the Sierra Club, an environmental conservation organization. While the Sierra Club’s programs are primarily directed towards conservation in the United States, its work is indirectly supporting some of the most vulnerable communities throughout the world. Climate change has a disproportionate affect on those living in regions that may become uninhabitable due to the climbing temperatures we are seeing to today.
“My job is to support the roll-out of a new database system to local chapters (field offices in each state) and advise them on how to leverage the tools to effectively reach their constituency. Their new system is built on Salesforce, which is the same platform that ODW uses to manage its grants and its donor information. To be honest, I probably would not be holding my current position if it weren’t for all of the experience I gained at ODW.
“Beyond the technical skills, ODW provided me with the institutional knowledge of the nonprofit sector to allow me to make the transition to a large, long-established organization.”
Do you have any inspiring stories from your experience with ODW?
“I think what I find inspiring about the organization is the people that show up day-in and day-out to make the work possible. So many volunteers, interns, and staff continually sacrifice their time and energy to better the lives of people across the globe. In addition, the team has such a “can-do” attitude. If the team wants to accomplish something, its going to happen.”
Any funny stories?
“I’ll never forget the offices moves. In particular, I’ll never forget when Philip made me lift a 300 pound file cabinet up two flights of stairs. He was convinced the drawers weren’t removable. (I’m surprised I came out of that unharmed). During the next office move, when it came time to take the file cabinet, I tried to pull out the drawers. Sure enough, they slid right out. Moral of the story: make sure you fact check Philip!”
Melissa Pack is the Communications Director at One Day’s Wages. She lives in Seattle, WA with her husband and papillon.
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