By Abigail Klima, Atlas Corps Communications and Engagement Intern
I had the opportunity to be with Atlas Corps as the Communications and Engagement Intern from January until April, and was even able to find ways to continue during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Before Atlas Corps and currently, I am a student at American University seeking my Master’s degree in Intercultural and International Communication. What better organization to learn from than a cross-cultural, international nonprofit like Atlas Corps! I am so thankful for this opportunity and the huge network it has allowed me to be a part of. I gained so many valuable skills and experiences just from being invited to become a part of the team. Even if it was temporary, I will always feel like a part of the Atlas Corps Network!
As the Communications and Engagement Intern, I worked daily answering questions on social media, drafting posts, and contacting Atlas Corps Fellows and Alumni for quotes and interviews. I was able to create several blogs from these interviews, including our #BelieveInSuperHeroes communications initiative to celebrate the Fellows and Alumni working to stop the spread of COVID-19.
In addition to those tasks, I was able to help with logistics during the Class 38 Orientation, pick up two Fellows as they arrived in the US, and participate in the January Global Leadership Lab! Though at first, I was not sure what I would learn in helping run these events, I learned so much about event coordination as well as the diverse experiences and lives of all the Fellows and staff at Atlas Corps. Every meal during the GLL I was able to join a table of Fellows I did not know and learn about their passions, Host Organizations, and how they plan to change the world. I was able to expand my intercultural knowledge in this way and learn about the diverse perspectives of the Fellows. This not only allowed me to become aware of more global issues but also inspired me by being surrounded by these international changemakers. I also had the amazing opportunity to go ice skating with all the Fellows and staff and had so much fun!
When COVID-19 restricted me to not return to DC when I had left for spring break, at first I thought my time at Atlas Corps would come to a premature end. Thankfully though, the Atlas Corps staff was able to move online in a matter of days and even worked with my university to make sure that I would still receive my grade for the internship. Though hundreds of miles from DC, I was able to interview Atlas Corps applicants, continue to manage the blogs and social media, and was even given the opportunity to be the official note taker of the Y20 Community Interviews. These interviews with future G20 summit attendees helped to find data about creating a community of youth engaged on G20 issues.
Next in my professional journey, I plan to finish my Master’s degree in the spring of 2021. I am building my career to solve cross-cultural communication issues in organizations by utilizing cultural knowledge and effective communication practices I have learned through experiences like Atlas Corps. I am also considering a short time working teaching English as a foreign language, and so am currently taking a course to get my TEFL certificate as I continue studying French, Portuguese, and practicing my Spanish in my spare time. A quote that I want to share with you all inspires me on this cultural communication journey. Trevor Noah says: “When you make the effort to speak someone else’s language, even if it’s just basic phrases here and there, you are saying to them, ‘I understand that you have a culture and identity that exists beyond me. I see you as a human being”.
At Atlas Corps, I was always surrounded by so much positivity and encouragement in the office, and I want to thank everyone that was a part of this journey with me! From Kate helping me learn all things communication and social media, Zach helping me create an amazing LinkedIn page, and Lizzie showing me the best practices for resumés and cover letters as I applied for a study abroad through my school. I also want to thank Meredith, Joshelyn, and Connie for their support as I asked endless questions and got to know the team and how to run things. Lastly, of course, thank you so much to Scott and Abby for giving me this amazing opportunity and supporting me as a team member throughout my time at Atlas Corps.
This internship has truly been a formative experience in my career and professional development that I will never forget! I hope everything goes well as Atlas Corps continues on the mission of our international network of changemakers, and I am eagerly looking forward to future class announcements to find out if any of my interviewees are chosen to begin their next professional journey with Atlas Corps (fingers crossed friends!)