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August 5, 2020

Summer 2020 Intern Interviews


ELEANOR CHMIELOWICZ

Are you a student? Where and what do you study? 

I am a rising sophomore at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut. I plan on double-majoring in Urban Studies and Environmental Science, with a minor in Community Action. 

How did you hear about 826CHI? Have you been involved with 826CHI before? 

My brother and I actually participated in many short-term 826CHI programs when we were younger, doing things such as writing winter solstice myths, taste-testing and writing food reviews, and visiting Groupon. I really loved the variety of programs offered, as well as the creative outlets encouraged through the courses. 

What job do you have 826? What does this entail? 

I am the Marketing and Communications intern this summer! For the most part, I am helping the Director of Development in planning different events and programs. I mostly focus on logistics, fundraising, and communication, as opposed to the more creative, lesson plan-type aspects of the events and programs the organization offers. We are mostly focusing on 826 Day, which will celebrate 826CHI’s 16th birthday.

So far, what have you learned about yourself? About your work? About the importance of amplifying youth voices in Chicago?  

I  have learned so much regarding the work that non-profits must do in order to be able to provide for their community. There is so much that is done to allow for their programs, particularly fundraising and connecting with partners, that I did not know the extent of. Seeing all of this has really cemented my dreams of working for or with a non-profit organization. 

In addition, I have now seen the effects that writing and publishing have on students. They grow much more powerful and confident in their work, and in their daily lives. I think this is so incredibly important because it causes the students to not be complacent, and to fight for what they want. 

What is your favorite part about working at 826CHI?

One of my favorite parts about working at 826CHI is meeting and working with all the wonderful 826CHI staff members. They have been so so kind and so helpful, I have learned an incredible amount from them, and I am really grateful. 

I have also really loved learning more about nonprofit organizations, and how they function, both day - to - day and over longer periods of time. I can definitely see myself working with a non-profit organization in some regard in the future, and learning about all the processes and “behind the scenes” work has been really interesting. 

KAMELIA ROMAN

Are you a student? Where and what do you study? 

Yes, I just finished my BSW in Social Work at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and plan on continuing my education there for a Master's degree in Social Work. 

How did you hear about 826CHI? Have you been involved with 826CHI before? 

My academic advisor from college sent an email about summer internships. I had not been involved with 826CHI before, but reading and learning about the work they do made me interesting in applying!

What job do you have 826? What does this entail? 

Volunteer and Community Engagement intern. I am currently researching ways to improve the Volunteer Handbook and ways to help reach out to queer/students of color! 

So far, what have you learned about yourself? About your work? About the importance of amplifying youth voices in Chicago?  

I’ve learned that the work that 826CHI provides for students really goes a long way. Especially now where students can pour themselves into their writing and imagination during stressful times. That’s why I want to help improve advocating for the students that come in at 826CHI, so that they continue to always feel welcomed.

What is your favorite part about working at 826CHI?

I think one of my favorite parts is getting to read and see all the work the students put into their stories! It’s amazing to read all the various topics, passions, and emotions. It makes me fall in love with writing and reading all over again! 

KARA KOWALSKI

Are you a student? Where and what do you study? 

I'm a rising sophomore at Northwestern University studying English.

How did you hear about 826CHI? Have you been involved with 826CHI before?

In high school, I was a member of 826CHI's Teen Writers Studio. Being a part of the Teen Writers Studio taught me that my voice matters and helped me develop greater self-confidence. As a result, I wanted to continue to work with 826CHI and help connect more students to the opportunities at 826CHI.

What job do you have 826? What does this entail? 

I am the Program Recruitment Intern! My job focuses on researching organizations that align with 826CHI's values and reaching out to facilitate relationships with those organizations. Furthermore, I connect with communities in Chicago and spread the word about the wonderful programs happening at 826CHI!

So far, what have you learned about yourself? About your work? About the importance of amplifying youth voices in Chicago? 

From being a student at 826CHI, I know firsthand about the immense impact that comes from teaching youth their perspective has value. By interning at 826CHI I have learned more about how to create and maintain a space where students feel uplifted and respected. I've also learned a lot about community and the importance of open communication within the workspace.   

What is your favorite part about working at 826CHI?

My favorite part about working at 826CHI is the sense of community. Every staff member cares about every member of their team. It is amazing to be able to work for an organization whose mission I believe in and whose staff is made up of some of the most caring people I've ever met.

LORENA DE LEON

Are you a student? Where and what do you study?

I am a rising junior at Connecticut College, and I am studying English and Film.

How did you hear about 826CHI? Have you been involved with 826CHI before?

I had been researching the web for an internship with a Publishing company. As I continued my search over a course of several weeks, I hadn't found an opportunity of interest to me. One day, I received an email from my scholarship mentor, and they had said "Hi, I heard you were looking for an internship at a publishing company. You might be interested in 826CHI! They work with Chicago youth to publish their creative writing works and they've worked on a project with your High School!" My mentor's email was the first time I had heard about the organization, so I immediately clicked onto a new tab, searched 826CHI, and knew that this organization was everything and more that I had been searching for.

What job do you have at 826? What does this entail?

I am the Summer Workshops and Programming Intern. I've worked on developing exciting activities and worksheets for Word Lab. I also work alongside a fellow intern to develop curriculum for a collaboration with STEAM-Camp HoMaGo. We create videos, worksheets, and activities for students to engage with.

So far, what have you learned about yourself? About your work? About the importance of amplifying youth voices in Chicago?

I grew up on the Southeast side of Chicago, and have always loved storytelling and writing. I wished for spaces that value unapologetic, creative expression, but was unfamiliar with 826CHI. Thus, my work has created a bridge between my younger and present self. I have enjoyed being able to share my love for writing and passion for amplifying underrepresented voices in all of my work, and I am always excited to create workshops and activities that can inspire the voices of Chicago youth. When I read student work I am instantly swept into the worlds that they have illustrated or imagined. Oftentimes, as adults we assume that we need to mold a world for our youth. We fail to realize that youth are already creating the world they want to live in. Chicago youth are the eyes and ears of the city, and it is vital to amplify their ideas, thoughts, and imagination. 

What is your favorite part about working at 826CHI?

The community! The staff at 826CHI is so welcoming and supportive! Since I've started interning, I have always felt welcomed into space that was excited to share and value all ideas and thoughts.

MAEVE O'SULLIVAN

Are you a student? Where and what do you study? 

I am going to be a senior this fall at DePaul University. I am a B.S. Psychology Major with a concentration in cognitive neuroscience and a Biology Minor (this was by accident). I want to go to grad school for school psychology or for something that is related to improving the school system!

How did you hear about 826CHI? Have you been involved with 826CHI before? 

DePaul requires an experiential learning course, and the one I chose was Psychology & Social Justice this past winter. We had to complete a certain amount of volunteer hours at an organization of our choice, and I chose 826CHI! I would go to the ASTW once a week and I also went to the Storytelling & Bookmaking field trips.

What job do you have 826? What does this entail? 

I am one of the curriculum development interns. I have created videos for a camp that is managed by Project Exploration. The videos are asynchronous lessons and activities that teach the campers about writing. They have learned the difference between themes and main ideas, protagonists & antagonists, they have learned about settings and important literacy devices (i.e. similes & metaphors, descriptive terms). The activities encourage the students to have fun while writing and to use their imagination.  I also am working on gathering ideas and information for the fall curriculum. The content focuses on civic engagement, the history of education & our country, the election, how to be engaged in your community, and incorporating all of this in their writing & editing, group collaboration, and their lives. Although many of these are "heavy" topics, we are aiming to keep it enjoyable and to allow students to express themselves.

So far, what have you learned about yourself? About your work? About the importance of amplifying youth voices in Chicago?  

I have learned to really manage my time. I am taking a summer class, so I had to learn how to balance everything. This has made me realize how much I am able to do! For my work, I have learned how to create content that is fun and enjoyable. The campers are there to have fun and to learn in a way that excites them, so I try to create activities that are not very strict so the campers' creativity is sparked and they discover the joys of writing. Schools are very structured and usually do not allow for much freedom in what students can write, so it has been essential to create lessons & activities that do not limit the campers and allows them to reach their full potential. I think anyone can write, it's just a matter of learning the important aspects of writing, not setting a limit to your creativity, and being empowered to share & be proud of your work.

What is your favorite part about working at 826CHI?

My favorite part has been getting to know the people I am working with and creating content that is relevant and enjoyable. I have loved working with Lorena; together we write the scripts for the videos, she films them, and then I edit them. Editing the videos has been really enjoyable because I get to present the material and activities in a way that is fun/creative (not boring as it might be in school)

MARCELLA SUTANTO

Are you a student? Where and what do you study? 

Yes, I am an international student from Indonesia. I am currently doing an MBA Program at Purdue University Northwest.

How did you hear about 826CHI? Have you been involved with 826CHI before? 

I found 826CHI from Handshake and I have never been involved with 826CHI before.

What job do you have 826? What does this entail?

I am an intern for the Development Department. Since we are talking about development, this job requires lots of research, webinar, and reading to know what is going on out there and how we can compete with the others (new ideas).

So far, what have you learned about yourself? About your work? About the importance of amplifying youth voices in Chicago?

I learned that I like to work at a non-profit organization. 826CHI is like one strong community that wants to bring direct, positive impacts on the surrounding area. One big difference that I can really feel about working at a profit and a non-profit organization is the energy and spirit that the non-profit organization (826CHI) has to always uphold its mission. Every event and publication is very creative to make the less fortunate Chicago youth feel that they are important and they are heard.

What is your favorite part about working at 826CHI? 

The people (staff and interns). They are very friendly and helpful. I feel that they are really passionate about what they do. So, I believe this is a perfect place to learn about new things.