Reflecting On This Summer: A Message From Our Leadership Tomorrow Intern

When I applied to the Leadership Tomorrow summer internship program, I definitely didn’t imagine that my first internship ever would be entirely virtual. While that created some challenges, from the occasional distractions of working from home to the awkwardness of being on a Zoom call with 15 people I’ve never met, the experience has still been incredibly meaningful. I’ve been able to learn, develop skills, and build relationships that will most certainly be valuable in the future.

I spent Monday through Thursday of every week working as a marketing intern for Jewish Federation. In addition to creating and posting content on social media and keeping the website up to date, a big part of what I did was conducting interviews and writing blog posts that featured donors and partner organizations. I say interviews, but these were much more like conversations and ended up being one of my favorite parts of the internship.

With every interview I had, I learned more about what the Federation does and why it is so vital to this community. Despite growing up here, I’d only occasionally heard of the Federation and I certainly didn’t know what role it serves. I learned so much by hearing from people about what issues they are passionate about and how Federation helps to address those through the organizations it funds. I found out that programs I’ve benefited from throughout my life, like PJ Library and Jewish Student Union, are supported by the Federation.

An aspect of my internship that was complicated by being virtual was being able to connect with my coworkers. Leading up to my internship, I was told that the relationships I build will probably be the most important thing I get out of it. It’s pretty hard to get to know your coworkers when a majority of the day is spent working at home alone. Thankfully, I was able to see everyone on our staff huddle Zoom calls several times a week and Zoom lunch calls every other week. At one huddle in particular, a social worker from JFS joined to chat and facilitate conversation about dealing with the stresses of the pandemic. I really felt like I got to know my coworkers better through that call.

I spent Fridays attending development days with the other Leadership Tomorrow interns, who worked at different nonprofits around the city. Over the weeks, we covered a wide range of topics, everything from networking to communication styles and Jewish leadership. Some of this time was spent learning how to write a grant proposal and practicing presenting it before a panel. The time spent every week with the other interns, some of whom I was just getting to know and others who I was reconnecting with, was one of the most valuable parts of this experience.

Throughout the summer, but especially now looking back, I’ve felt very fortunate to have had this opportunity. While many of my friends had their summer jobs and internships cancelled, the Federation and Leadership Tomorrow have worked hard to make sure I had an experience that was both safe and valuable.

Thank you for a fantastic summer,

Lawrence Wagner