My name is Aubrey Sereno, a Junior at Chapman University who is in the process of completing my major in Communication Studies with a minor in Entrepreneurship. This summer I was an HR intern at The Borgen Project, a non-profit organization that addresses and works toward ending world poverty and hunger through advocacy on the political level. They operate at this political level by advancing policies and programs that improve living conditions for those who live on less than $1 a day. I found this internship through LinkedIn on my search to find an internship for the summer, when they reached out to me and offered to give me college credit for working with their team. My duties included utilizing social media to increase awareness and the company’s advocacy toward helping the world’s poor, finding and attracting new employees to fill open positions, building and promoting the employer brand, and contacting congressional leaders weekly in support of the company’s legislative priorities, as well as fundraising throughout the course of the summer.
These responsibilities granted me experience in working with new skills such as crowdsourcing, B2C marketing, brand awareness, cross channeling, and employee advocacy. Although many of these terms were taught and mentioned in my communication classes (COM 100 and 102), and it was helpful learning about these skills before I was to use them, there was no way I could have been prepared for how these are used when applying them to an actual job that contributes to a real and successful company. Every time I would complete and upload job openings to university websites I would count that as “success”, due to the complicated process, yet I knew I was truly and positively contributing to the company and its movement when people gave to my fundraising campaign. I was able to educate those around me about what The Borgen Project is fighting for and did so well enough for them to want to be a part of the process to help spread awareness and end world poverty.
The most valuable thing I’ve learned through this summer is that communication is everything. I have learned to not be afraid to ask questions when help is needed or instructions are unclear. Although I felt as if I was a burden every time I asked my supervisor a question, I was reminded by that same supervisor that that is what they are there for and they would rather be asked questions than be responsible for the person that makes a mistake. COVID-19 was another thing that contributed in bettering my communication skills. Although that statement seems odd to write and COVID-19 has in fact restricted our lives in multiple ways, it has taught me how to time manage, differentiate work space from a home environment, and be more independent in solving problems that would be easily solved when in an environment where you can communicate face to face. I do wish we weren’t forced into these unprecedented times yet I think we should learn from these experiences we were forced into and use them to our advantage when things eventually go back to normal. I am more than happy with my experience in working with The Borgen Project this year and am even more happy that what I did was contributing to a big and important issue that needs more recognition and help.