The coronavirus pandemic has presented many challenges for businesses and organizations and this included internships.  Raising A Reader MA was so fortunate to attract such a motivated, talented and dedicated group of interns this summer and we wanted to share them proudly with you here!

Internships offer great opportunities for college students to get valuable real-world experience that they can draw from as they prepare to enter the workforce after graduation. These experiences also help them to build their resumes and make connections that can translate to future job opportunities. On the flipside, they also offer much-needed extra support for organizations. Interns are usually able to take on projects that full-time employees may not have the bandwidth to tackle. It’s a win-win for everyone, and Raising A Reader MA (RAR-MA) was lucky enough to welcome three amazing interns to our virtual team this summer.

Throughout their time with us, they worked on a variety of projects, which included website updates, analysis of analytical data, and research. They worked hard and presented finished projects that demonstrated their drive, skills, and dedication. Even with all of the hard work, they also took opportunities to connect with and learn from staff members. All of this made for a great period of collaboration and a little fun.

Even though they’re back in their respective college spheres, we wanted to take some time to introduce you to these hardworking students. We expect to see wonderful things from them in the future:

Will McCormack – Yale University

Will McCormack

1. What drew you to RAR-MA? Heading into the summer, I knew I wanted to work at a nonprofit at home in Boston. I had worked with a group at school called Flyte Tutoring that allowed me to engage with New Haven middle school students studying for the SSAT and was interested in learning more about the organizational and development side of nonprofits. I found out about RAR-MA through the GreenLight Fund, and although my initial vision for the summer — interacting with the team in person and taking the T into work each day — changed with the circumstances, I was very lucky to get in touch with RAR-MA and receive so much support in a virtual capacity.

2. What do you see as your biggest accomplishment during your internship? Bridget Malicki and Kate Winder got me started on a map project that became one of my favorite ways to contribute this summer. We initially redesigned how RAR-MA displayed its core and satellite communities in the state before realizing the full potential of mapping. Synthesizing state, town and county data allowed us to visualize RAR-MA’s impact in different ways, and it was really satisfying to capture a snapshot of the state by various metrics and compare those insights to where RAR-MA operates.

3. What effects has your time with the organization had on you – personally and professionally? I appreciate how much I was able to learn by contributing in different areas at a small organization. Whether it was with the maps project or a dive into RAR-MA’s newsletter communications, the experience showed me how much I enjoy analyzing information, coming to conclusions about changes and improvements based on the findings, and communicating through writing and data. Everyone on the team was welcoming and offered guidance, especially my supervisor Bridget. After a full summer, it is still weird to think that I actually haven’t met or talked with anyone at RAR-MA in person.

4. How do you see your work with the organization connecting with your future career goals? As someone who doesn’t currently have one clear profession or industry in which they’re interested, getting hands-on experience at RAR-MA was very valuable. The internship was my first serious experience at a non-student organization, and being able to contribute to the team was really exciting. Wherever my career leads, I know many of the skills RAR-MA helped me sharpen — brainstorming ideas, organizing projects and timelines, being effective with research, and so much more — will be helpful anywhere.

5. What is your favorite memory of your time with the organization? I was able to sit in on a virtual parent workshop in early June that blew me away. Maria, Catalina, and Isaí led the workshop, which included polls, discussion, a presentation and a storytime all over Zoom. Beyond what I learned about asking good questions and dialogic reading, the level of engagement and excitement Maria, Catalina, and Isaí managed to bring to the group was very impressive.

6. What is a new skill that you learned during your time with the organization? Adaptability. 2020 has taught me that it’s a crucial skill to cultivate, and meeting and collaborating with the RAR-MA team remotely helped me grow more flexible. Our agenda shifted as the summer progressed, and being able to efficiently hop from one project to another helped make the experience productive.

Nina He – Boston University

Nina He

1. What drew you to RAR-MA? What drew me to RAR-MA was their mission to close the literacy opportunity gap. As an early childhood education major, I had learned about this gap in my classes and the impacts that unequal opportunities have on children’s academic achievements. When I found RAR-MA and learned about its mission, I saw an opportunity to put what I learned in class into practice and be a part of the change that needs to happen.

2. What do you see as your biggest accomplishment during your internship? My biggest accomplishment during my internship was redesigning the implementer resource website with Kira. This was our most time consuming project and the one that I am the proudest of because I learned and used skills that I’d never thought that I would use before. I definitely have a newfound appreciation for website developers!

3. What effects has your time with the organization had on you – personally and professionally? My time with RAR-MA has helped me develop my communication and teamwork skills while working remotely. I learned how to communicate more explicitly during checkpoints about my progress and needs and the nuanced differences of working in a team remotely. I’m also glad that I made connections with a great team! It’s been inspiring to work with and talk to people who are passionate about their job and personally invested in the community.

4. How do you see your work with the organization connecting with your future career goals? As an aspiring early childhood educator, this internship helped me connect with my future career goals in that it reiterated the importance of literacy and engaged reading in children’s education. Although I knew the importance of vocabulary and dialogic reading before, working at RAR-MA further ingrained in me to read to children diverse books and to engage them in conversation, as well as to partner with families as a teacher.

5. What is your favorite memory of your time with the organization? My favorite memory of this summer was Bridget’s goodbye call, because that was when I got a sense of the warm and tight-knit workplace community that staff at Raising a Reader Massachusetts has. Working remotely means that a lot of the organic conversations and interpersonal relationship development doesn’t happen, and I’m so grateful that Kate set up meet and greets for the interns with so many of the Raising a Reader staff so that we felt sufficiently welcomed and plugged. However, the words said and memories recalled at Bridget’s goodbye call gave me a sense of family. I’m fortunate to have interned at an organization with a supportive workplace environment.

6. What is a new skill that you learned during your time with the organization? A new skill that I’ve learned during my time as an intern is how to navigate Salesforce. Since we used Salesforce for some data entry projects, I had the opportunity to use Salesforce Trailhead and learn a lot about data entry and data analysis through Salesforce.

Kira Ward – Duke University

Kira Ward

1. What drew you to RAR-MA? I was first drawn to RAR-MA because of my love for reading at a young age. I was one of those little kids who couldn’t keep their nose out of a book. As I progressed through school, I realized that my love for reading was a gift. Some of my best memories growing up centered around a great novel or story time and I was eager to get to work with an organization that fosters that same enthusiasm in children across the state of Massachusetts.

2. What do you see as your biggest accomplishment during your internship? One of the biggest accomplishments that my fellow interns and I collaborated on was redesigning several pages of resources on our website for the community staff members who help facilitate RAR-MA programming. It was an exciting and daunting task as we began with a list of over one hundred resources to categorize and incorporate into our pages. We worked together to intuitively sort them all, creating a streamlined navigation experience and helping the teachers and caregivers who make the Raising A Reader curriculum run smoothly.

3. What effects has your time with the organization had on you – personally and professionally? Personally, my time at RAR-MA was a welcome outlet for my focus and energies amidst the pandemic. Each morning I was incredibly grateful for the opportunity to contribute towards projects and a larger mission that I deeply connected with. Never did I feel stagnant this summer. Professionally, I felt as if my experiences shone a light on how nonprofits operate and the unique assets and challenges that come with the industry. The autonomy that interns were given at RAR-MA allowed me to collaborate on projects that developed skills that I’ll use for years to come, regardless of my future career decisions.

4. How do you see your work with the organization connecting with your future career goals? My work with RAR-MA underscored and confirmed my desire to work with a mission-driven organization in my future professional roles. By seeking out companies that are steadfastly committed to their values, like RAR-MA, my work feels more meaningful and authentic.

5. What is your favorite memory of your time with the organization? I don’t have a singular favorite memory, but rather I enjoyed all of the small, conversational moments that my colleagues and I shared over Zoom and other video platforms. In an office setting, the small, human interactions happen organically.  I was very impressed that I still felt equally connected to everyone I worked with across a remote landscape. I am leaving my time at Raising A Reader with new friends and people I certainly hope to stay in touch with.

6. What is a new skill that you learned during your time with the organization? Prior to this summer, I hadn’t spent much time at all in web page design or development. I particularly loved getting to hone this skill and exercise my creativity, while knowing that my final product would reach many RAR-MA families across the internet.

Will, Nina, and Kira were fabulous additions to RAR-MA, if only for a short time. We wish each of them the best of luck with the upcoming school year and their future endeavors and we are so grateful for their many contributions.