In the course of my major at Chapman, I have had the opportunity to learn a great deal about the effects media has on our society. Whether it be in advertising, violent children’s programming, or thin-idealizing media, it is hard nowadays to find wholesome and educational media. I am incredibly passionate about ultimately working for an organization who values creating positive media after everything I have learned in my coursework, which is why I was so excited to have the opportunity to intern in the corporate events department at Sesame Workshop, the non-profit behind Sesame Street. As a kid, I grew up watching the show and learning my ABC’s and 123’s. When I got to college, I learned about the formative research conducted to create the show. Finally, this summer, I learned so much about what it means to work for a non-profit organization, how to coordinate events that enhance Sesame Street’s brand, small group communication, and the importance of effective multitasking.
Working for Sesame Workshop was my first experience working for a non-profit. I was really excited about this new learning opportunity and to work somewhere that I knew was giving back to the community at large. During my experience, I was able to learn about and help work on several projects that were aligned with Sesame’s initiatives. For example, at the beginning of my internship, Sesame advisors from places like Mexico, India, and South Africa and a representative from the LEGO Foundation all came together at our New York office to learn more about how their partnership will help bring play based learning into the most vulnerable areas of the world. I was able to listen in on some of their presentations about how kits with LEGO bricks would be distributed to schools to help children learn through play. I played an essential behind the scenes role planning for this meeting. I arranged travel for the advisors, did daily set-up for their meetings, coordinated food and rental deliveries, in addition to assisting with the farewell dinner. Events like this often meant I had to come in the office early and stay late, but it was amazing to feel that I helped in some part to shape a child’s life somewhere in the world.
Through helping plan events, I came to understand Sesame as a brand beyond what I learned on my couch as a kid and in Dr. Tukachinsky’s classes. I helped coordinate numerous character walkarounds where life sized Muppets would appear and have meet and greets with children. Similar to the global meeting I described with Sesame International and LEGO, each of these events was aligned with an initiative to further Sesame’s mission to help kids grow smarter, stronger, and kinder. Each request that came in for a character walkaround was carefully reviewed in meetings I attended with the events team. These meetings gave me a lot of insight into the brand and how it is possible to keep such a positive reputation for almost 50 years. Once they were approved, I played a key role in ensuring each aspect of the event was carefully organized in planned. For example, I created budgets, distributed contracts, booked hotels and travel, and liaised with multiple outside parties to ensure each event was a success. I even had the unique opportunity to shadow a meet and greet with Elmo in our offices! It was amazing to see the joy on the children’s faces and know I played a huge part in making it all happen.
In addition to character walkarounds, I also assisted with Sesame Workshop’s logistics for major events like VIDCON, the HollyRod Foundation Annual Gala, and a congressional briefing on Global Early Childhood Development with the American Academy of Pediatrics held in DC on Capital Hill. With so many events going on at once, there was a lot to consider and many tasks that needed to be done. To be able to effectively organize myself, I designed a checklist so I would have a record of my progress for each assignment I was given. I also learned how important it was to be in constant communication with the rest of the team. Whether it was a second set of eyes for each task, a copy of a memo to the staff, or making sure all outside commitments were in writing, the stress we as a team placed on accuracy and clear communication came through in every task we took.
Beyond all of those technical aspects of the job, I feel I got to know many people from Sesame Workshop on both a professional and personal level. As a part of the summer internship program, we were given the opportunity to volunteer to interview senior executives. Teams of five interns were assigned to three executives: the COO, the Executive Vice President of Global Impact and Philanthropy, and the CEO. Each interview was presented to the rest of the summer interns filmed and shared internally with the entire organizati on. I had the unique opportunity to interview on camera Sherrie Westin, the EVP of Global Impact and Philanthropy. Our team prepared a list of questions, which I coordinated and edited with both Sherrie and her team. I met with Sherrie beforehand to review the content and flow of the interview. I found the interview to be both informative and was impressed by Sherrie’s deep dedication to Sesame’s mission and philanthropic work.
The end of my internship came all too soon, as I truly enjoyed being a part of such a worthy organization, one that I have admired for most of my life. Undoubtedly, the highlight of my summer has to be the opportunity to meet the characters that played such an instrumental roles in my early years as a child and a student. If I learned anything this summer, it’s that it’s not all about me. Working for Sesame reminded me how important the lessons we learn as children about being accepting and kind truly are. I feel incredibly humbled to have been a part of an organization that not only allowed me to reconnect with those simple lessons and values, but to be a part of sharing them with children across the world.