Hello! My name is Anyssa Martinez and I am a senior at Chapman University. My major is Communication Studies and my minor is Integrated Educational Studies. I searched for an internship for months leading up to finding my summer position on LinkedIn where I responded to a posting from a local nonprofit. This summer I have been interning at the Pacific Marine Mammal Center, also known as PMMC. Their mission is to rescue and rehabilitate seals and sea lions along the California coastline and to educate the public on the importance of ocean conservation. PMMC has a small staff and a volunteer base of over 200 people. In my role as a Volunteer Coordinator Intern, I assist with communications, daily operations, and events centered around our volunteers. I work alongside my supervisor, Stephanie Gilroy, who is the Volunteer Engagement and Programs Manager at PMMC.
A primary aspect of my role has been communicating with our volunteers, so I have found that many of my courses have been helpful during my internship. As a Communication Studies major, I have developed my interpersonal skills, making me a more effective communicator in my role. Because our volunteers come from all different backgrounds, I have to be mindful of different communication styles as I engage with them. For example, some people prefer straightforward, low-context communication, while others prefer high-context communication and are more engaged by nonverbal cues. It is crucial to be aware of how others communicate in such a public facing role so that I can best engage our volunteers and ensure operations run smoothly.
My proudest moment during my internship has been helping to plan PMMC’s annual Volunteer Appreciation Dinner. This event recognizes the hard work of our volunteers, so it is important to get every detail right to create a memorable night for them. Being able to get experience with event planning was an unexpected, but exciting opportunity for me. Not only did we negotiate with our venue to stay within our budget, but we also reached out to businesses within our community for support with catering and other event essentials. This really showed me the importance of developing connections and relationships within the local community. Collaborating with other businesses allowed us to create one of the best events they have held, and I am so glad I was able to help host the event. From the beginning stages of planning, to seeing the event unfold, it felt so rewarding to give back to the volunteers who do so much for PMMC!
The most valuable part of my internship was learning that I want to work for a company that has a positive impact on the world. My internship was very unique because PMMC is a nonprofit organization. With my minor being IES, I have experience volunteering and learning about the importance of contributing to my community. This internship felt like the perfect balance of my major and minor! Prior to my time at PMMC, I had only ever worked at for-profit companies where the main purpose was generating revenue. Working for a company that has a greater purpose beyond this has been very inspiring to me. Having the chance to really interact with people at a job where everyone works toward a cause they are passionate about was more fulfilling than I had ever imagined.
A piece of advice I have for other interns is to really immerse yourself in the company culture and make connections with your colleagues. As an intern, you are coming into a temporary role, so you really should make the most of your time there. Networking with the people you work alongside gives you the opportunity to learn about the company from many different perspectives, making you more knowledgeable as an employee. I would also tell future interns to believe in themselves and know that they bring a tremendous amount of value to any company. It is easy to feel nervous as an intern coming into a brand new environment, and that can lead to some self-doubt. Instead, remember that you are there because you deserve to be, you just have to let yourself shine!