Category Archives: Summer 2017

Working & Nursing Study with Professor Katherine Johnson

I’ve now completed the first couple weeks of my new internship and I’m feeling energized! I’m Alexa, a junior from Seattle studying public health and Spanish (and I’ve just added a political science minor!). This is my first semester back at Tulane after spending the fall studying urban public health in Buenos Aires, Argentina. I’m incredibly excited to be working as a research assistant with Dr. Katherine Johnson, a professor and researcher in Tulane’s sociology department, on her Working & Nursing study. This is a qualitative study collecting working women’s breastfeeding experiences, victories and struggles in the New Orleans area, and using this information to evaluate workplaces and impel necessary policy change.

Dr. Johnson’s study is intriguing to me because it is a question of reproductive rights for women who choose to resume work after having a child, while recognizing breastfeeding as the best option for them and their child. I want to learn about these mothers’ undoubtedly varied experiences and how they are able, or struggle, to exercise their rights and achieve a work-feeding balance. The study also represents an intersection between public health, sociology and reproductive justice that allows me to explore research approaches common in each field. Moreover, I’m eager to gain specific qualitative research skills such as reviewing academic literature, conducting interviews, and learning how data is interpreted and conclusions are drawn from a qualitative project. I ultimately want to work in legal advocacy for women and families, and will always be thinking how I can apply this learning to my future.

During my first meeting with Dr. Johnson, she described how she conducts the interviews and how she likes to make it as convenient as possible for the mother to meet. She’s met mothers on and off campus, at their homes or coffee shops nearby, in whatever space is most comfortable for them to share their experiences. She also explained that the current recruiting methods she has been using to interview mothers have resulted in large numbers of mostly white, middle or upper middle-class working women reaching out. Actively recruiting women from a greater variety of socioeconomic and ethnic/racial demographics is a big goal for her currently. I then received my first main task in Dr. Johnson’s project, which is to compile a literature review surrounding the role of factors like race and socioeconomic status in breastfeeding, and what disparities or specific issues might exist.

This has been going pretty well, and I’m almost ready to consult with Dr. Johnson over my major findings. Literature reviews can be tricky because you never really know when you’re ‘done’ per se, but there are always new perspectives and nuances I’m discovering as I tap my sources. Amidst all this, last week I visited the newly renovated lactation room – the Mothers’ Room – in the LBC to evaluate it for particular traits and personal feelings I had from visiting it. I recorded information for Dr. Johnson like its location, the foot traffic surrounding it, certain amenities it did or didn’t have, and words and feelings that came to mind when I saw it. I took some photos as well and made sure I recorded every detail as to paint a vivid picture for her, as she wasn’t there. I repeated this process at two more lactation centers on the Uptown campus the next day: I journeyed to the Reily Student Recreation Center and Tulane Law School to visit these lactation spaces. Next week, I’ll be visiting Tulane’s downtown campus to investigate the spaces there. This information will add to similar documentation of other workplace lactation rooms across New Orleans.

After orienting myself with the literature and some terminology and key concepts surrounding breastfeeding, I will move on to conducting quality checks on interview transcripts, which involves listening over recordings and matching it to the transcription to ensure accuracy, and even assist in conducting interviews myself. I’m very excited to interview mothers or assist at one point. For now, the goal is to always be on the hunt for new information!Lactation room LBC

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Gray Lab Summer 2017 Conclusion

 Although my summer experience working in the Child and Family lab has come to a close, I have learned and accomplished so much that I will take with me not only into my comomchild-300x300ntinued research position for the upcoming year, but also in my course work, future career paths, and perspectives and interactions with people in my every day life. From achieving all of my initial summer learning goals, to learning lessons of the importance of relationships, resilience, context and self-awareness–this summer experience has challenged and rewarded me in ways I could not have imagined. 

In terms of of my specific learning objectives, the Gray lab supported me and gave me every opportunity to successfully achieve my goals. My first goal was to broaden my understanding of statistical analyses and SPSS software used to run such analyses and then applying that understanding to ours and others research. Thanks to the support of the NCI grant, I was able to get the SPSS software on my computer. That resource in conjunction  with the support of all the Gray lab graduate students, (whether they were sharing their SPSS instructional manuals with me, 
Screen Shot 2017-12-17 at 5.15.21 PM.pngoffering me tutorials involving tedious hours spent showing me how to run varying analyses, answering all of my questions, or sharing with me their own research project data analysis plans and results) I am now confident in both running my own statistical analysis, as well as interpreting the statistics and result tables of the empirical literature that I consume. Part of this first goal was to be able to use this acquired understanding to help the lab make some analyses choices as we shift focus from strictly data collection to analysis. I was able to achieve this goal by writing several syntaxes including ones for child community violence exposure, children’s’ hot self-regulation and children’s’ cool self-regulation. My second learning goal was to strengthen my participant recruitment skills and the administrative side of clinical psychology research. Although after this summer, another undergraduate will take over recruitment, recruitment was one of my favorite experiences I had in lab because it helped me connect the research beyond just participant ID numbers to real people with stories who are inconveniencing themselves to assist with our work. This appreciation and connection was one of the biggest lessons of the summer. My third learning goal was to develop my scientific reading and writing abilities. By the end of the summer I had successfully read and critically analyzed and discussed our weekly empirical article for lab meeting, presented and lead an article discussion during lab meeting, completed a literature review on self-regulation, and finished my honors thesis proposal. The Gray lab gave me the exposure, tools, support and challenge that I needed to gain confidence in my scientific reading and writing abilities. My fourth learning goal was to further my PSRA coding reliability and complete a systematic review of how past studies used PSRA data to inform analyses plan within our own research. Using the Interclass Correlation Coefficient (ICC) measure to determine inter-rater reliability, by the end of the summer Hannah (our lead lab coordinator) and I were within an acceptable range of reliability and had made good progress and double coding PSRA videos. I completed my PSRA systematic review and started creating syntaxes to assist in our future data analyses. My final goal was to work closely to the graduate students and learn from them. This goal was easy to achieve due to the strong mentorship values the lab has, and without the support from all of the gray lab team–none of my above goals would have been attainable. 

So, now that I reached all my summer learning goals, what is next? Luckily, I get to continue working in the Gray Lab for the next to semesters! I hope to continue to build on my current experience as I endeavor to complete my senior year honors thesis. I am excited to see how the graduate student’s projects evolve as they take on their master thesis, dissertation and compositional research projects. I am excited to meet new people, as more undergraduate students join the lab and to give them any knowledge and support that I can to assist them on their research endeavors. Furthermore, if any readers are Tulane or New Orleans students interested in getting involved in undergraduate research projects–please feel free to contact me for any questions or support you may need in starting the process. I cannot reccomend the experience highly enough! Beyond the upcoming semesters, this summer experience has given me career goals of eventually pursuing graduate work in psychology so that I can best give back to both the field and my community. 

Beyond the skills I learned, the Gray Lab has also developed my concepts of social justice within and beyond the field of psychology. One lesson from the summer that particularly resonated with me was one surrounding cultural sensitivity and understanding the dangers of labeling and telling and recognizing only one story. During one of our weekly lab meetings we read the following article to guide our discussion about the risks of closed-minded labeling, particular within the work we do. In it, Nigerian writer Chimamanda Adichie beautifully captures how everyone gives labels and everyone has been singularly labeled to all of humanities detriment. Understanding this inherent misstep and consciously countering the instinct to make assumptions about someone’s identity is incredibly important in any field where you are interacting with people who may identify differently from you. In regards to psychological research this applies in many ways. Here is an interesting article that exemplifies this lesson by explaining and empirically supporting the dangers of focusing on one story in research by expanding trauma research beyond a strictly psychopathology maladaptive perspective to contextually adaptive strategies. These are just two examples of how the Gray Lab has challenged my biases and grown my perspectives on social justice and how to be a compassionate human. I will link our Lab Values here for further lessons that being a part of this lab has taught me. 

In terms of my goal and NCI’s mission of being a leading woman and an agent of positive change, working in the Gray Lab has taught me how to reach these goals by introducing me to inspiring models. Whether it was the mothers I talked to at the pediatric clinic, the administration and staff at the Head Start programs, my undergraduate research peers, the graduate students, or Dr. Gray herself, being constantly surrounding by incredible and hard working women with a diversity of skill sets and ways of contributing has helped me find my own voice and confidence in the field and beyond. I am so grateful for this experience, and I plan to apply what I have learned this past summer in all of my future endeavors 

 

Reflecting on My Time at the Juvenile Court

I finished up my internship a few weeks ago, so I’m posting this reflection quite late. Part of the reason for that is that after twelve weeks of working at the juvenile court and at two other places in order to save money, I spent the very end of the summer sleeping like a hibernating bear.

I hadn’t realized how exhausting my work this summer would be, but I also couldn’t predict how much I’d learn over those twelve weeks– both professionally and personally. I turned in my first research paper that wasn’t for a grade. I learned how to summarize information and how to organize my research in a way that would be easy for others to understand. I learned to listen and when to ask questions. I learned that this is what I want to do. Personally, I learned how to sympathize with people I couldn’t empathize with. I learned how to live on my own, manage a power outage, and how to survive the New Orleans heat. I learned how to work hard and how to change gears from thinking and questioning to following and serving as I went directly from court to my catering job.

I certainly fulfilled my goals for the summer. I understand the judicial system and its effect on women and minorities better than I did before. I feel comfortable dealing with dense material and my writing skills have vastly improved.

This was an invaluable experience and I’m so grateful to NCI for giving me the resources to have it.

In Reflection: Mongolian Health Initiative

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After a full summer as a research intern for the Mongolian Health Initiative (MHI), my time in Mongolia has finally drawn to a close and I am back in New Orleans reflecting on the amazing lessons I learned this summer. Regarding my first learning objective of obtaining knowledge regarding breast cancer risk factors in rural and urban regions, I was able to gain a great deal of knowledge about vitamin D concentrations in rural and urban areas and its relationship with various prenatal risk factors which are, transitively, related to breast cancer risk factors. I had  discussions with MHI employees about the various initiatives that MHI has helped establish in Mongolia, such as the Zero TB Initiative, which is a global initiative working against tuberculosis. This initiative is especially necessary in a country burdened by tuberculosis such as Mongolia. In speaking with MHI researchers about initiatives such as this, as well as the ongoing clinical TB trial in Mongolia, I was able to obtain knowledge regarding tuberculosis infection in school-aged children, particularly in high-risk nations, which was my second learning objective. I gained practical research skills in that I gained a thorough introduction to biostatistics and various research databases, as well as on methodology in finding relevant scientific literature. I also worked a great deal with data tables and data analyses, which was a realm of research that I had never been as very familiar with. In working with my supervisor, I was able to learn about the methodology and protocol for a number of clinical trials that MHI is currently working on, such as the TB clinical trial, as well as the vitamin D trial. During my time as an MHI intern, I was able to interact with women leaders in the STEM fields, many of whom are doing trailblazing research in Mongolia for and with Mongolian women. This not only gave me personal applications and insight into what it means to be a woman leader in the STEM fields, but also on what it means to be a working woman in general. There was a powerful sense of collaboration and camaraderie in the MHI workplace.    

My internship experience at MHI will be an experience that I build off during the rest of my time at Tulane and beyond as I continue to explore and pursue medical and public health research. This experience has also grown my interest in and passion for cross cultural research, which is a field I feel that my background can greatly aid me in. I hope to continue to be able to advocate for and with women, particularly across cultures and in the health sector.

Having now completed my internship, I have found a great need to be equipped with a thorough understanding of biostatistics in the research field. I am thus currently enrolled in a biostatistics class and am excited to apply what I learn in future research endeavours. I would like to take on more public health research experiences, particularly cross cultural public health research. This experience, in its cross-cultural nature, taught me so much about communication, collaboration, and about what public health research means in both urban and rural areas and countries. Due to this overseas research experience, I have also gained a great interest in medical sociology, another class that I am currently involved in. Through it, I hope to learn more about health disparities, global health, and how medical/public health research can become a more equitable and accessible tool around the world.

To a student interested in an internship at the Mongolian Health Initiative or simply in public health or cross cultural research in general, I would emphasize how important it is to go into the experience with an open mind. Due to the variable nature of research, particularly in a culture that may have a different approach to research than one might be accustomed to, it is so important to remain flexible, teachable, and humble. I learned most in the moments when I lay down my pride and learned new ways with an open mind and good humor. Lastly, work well and work hard – be confident in what you do know and be open to learn about what you don’t know.

My philosophy of women being a necessary and powerful force in the STEM fields was definitely reinforced during my interactions with incredible women researchers at MHI. I have learned that so much about finding leadership is about being certain and proud of personal skills and talents while also always being open to learn and change and grow and collaborate. The women I met at MHI are all incredibly hardworking, intelligent, and humble – they have a clear sense of their identity in the workplace and in their respective fields.  

Throughout this internship, I have become more comfortable with creative problem solving. I have found that in my experiences over this past summer, being an effective problem solver involves being able to work independently, confident in the knowledge and skills that I already own, while also being teachable and knowing when and in what areas to be able to ask for help. I have found that this work – both public health research in particular as well as women working together in general – is only truly effective when genuine trust and collaboration are present.

The End of a Great Experience with Girls Who Invest

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Hello again everyone!  My experience with Girls Who Invest is coming to a close, and I could not have been happier with the program or my internship at Wellington Management.

Through my summer experiences, I was able to achieve all of my learning objectives and more.  My knowledge in finance and investing concepts grew dramatically through both the GWI educational program and my hands-on experience at Wellington.  Through the coursework, case studies, and on-the-job projects, I was constantly challenged and thinking through different ways to value a company or approach a problem.  I was able to increase my knowledge and experience while working in a professional environment, and I was able to form so many new meaningful connections and relationships with both my peers and with industry professionals.

I hope to build off this experience by continuing to immerse myself in the finance and investing world.  I am pursuing a Finance degree at Tulane and have plans to take additional courses to enhance my knowledgebase in various areas so I can directly apply this knowledge in future positions.  I am also pursuing an internship in asset management for next summer to further increase my experience and skillset.  I hope to continue to learn more about the nuances within various asset classes, and I hope to gain more exposure to and experience in research and valuation of companies and securities.

To those students interested in pursuing an internship in investing, I advise you to gain as much early-on exposure as you can through classes, internships, competitions, etc.  Be curious and ask as many questions as you can.  At the beginning of the summer, I didn’t realize how many different career paths existed in this industry.  I advise students to reach out to peers or alumni in the industry to learn more about their experiences to help students narrow their interests and refine their criteria for a position.

While investing is certainly a male-dominated industry, over the course of the summer I have found that there is an increasing amount of opportunities for female investors to enter the space.  So may firms offer gender-diversity programs that aim to get more women involved in the field.  I have met so many talented women this summer who have become successful leaders in the industry.  In my experience, hard work does not go unnoticed, so I advise females to put forth their best efforts and strive for excellence in every task they approach.

I am very thankful to have had the opportunity to be part of the Girls Who Invest program and community, and I’m looking forward to continuing to pursue a career in such an interesting and dynamic industry.

Dream a Better Dream

My internship at DREAM (formerly Harlem RBI) was so much more than I could have ever imagined. Not only did I fulfill all of my goals that I had set at the beginning of my internship, but I’ve also had so many different experiences that have opened my eyes to new perspectives. My biggest goal this summer was to develop and hone my resource development skills. The fact that DREAM was a mid-sized non-profit organization in New York City did wonders for my development skills.

Many of DREAM’s donors were corporate donors that required clear and consistent communication skills, as well as the ability to improvise because their schedules were often changed at the last minute. For example, we had a Blackstone volunteer event that was originally scheduled to be held in Central Park, but on the day of the event, the heat index was too high for the players to be outside. Our baseball and softball coordinators were always prepared for the weather, so my supervisor and I had already contacted prior to coming into the office, to ensure that an alternative schedule was in place for the players and the volunteers. Thankfully, Blackstone was very flexible with the change and things went according to plan. My time at DREAM equipped with the necessary skills to think on my feet and improved my written and verbal communication skills, which were heavily relied on for this particular event.

I was also able to network with a variety of different people at DREAM. From the High School Campus Culture Director to the Director of Community Engagement and Government Affairs, I was able to collect a plethora of new information. I learned from DREAM staff as well as DREAM participants. During my weekly site visits to the East Harlem and South Bronx sites, I was able to interact with the players. I began to slowly, but surely form bonds with the on-site staff members, as well as the participants and when my time was up at DREAM, it was hard to say goodbye. This summer, I made an important decision regarding my academic career at Tulane and future professional career. My unique experiences at DREAM had inspired to change majors from Political Science to Anthropology with an emphasis in Linguistics. I had originally planned to teach in New Orleans for at least several years before heading off to law school to study education policy. But

This summer, I made an important decision regarding my academic career at Tulane and future professional career. My unique experiences at DREAM had inspired to change majors from Political Science to Anthropology with an emphasis in Linguistics. I had originally planned to teach in New Orleans for at least several years before heading off to law school to study education policy. But because I had some incredible and insightful teachers for roommates, as well as my lessons at DREAM, I decided to pursue a career I was more passionate about. I am confident and motivated about my future. I want to study linguistics so that I am more equipped as an ESL certified teacher to serve my students.

Being located in East Harlem and providing programming South Bronx, two heavily diverse areas, I was able to learn more about productive and sustainable community engagement. Having learned these skills, I was able to transfer them to my work as an Ignite EXPLORE OC at Tulane. Ignite is an EXPLORE program that strives to connect first-year students the available resources here at Tulane, as well as people within our New Orleans community. During Ignite, we touch on various social justice issues in New Orleans while on our service and learning experiences. Because I had learned community engagement skills from DREAM, I was able to facilitate meaningful conversations and discussions with my participants and encourage them to pursue sustainable, impactful, and collaborative efforts with community partners. In Ignite, we heavily emphasized that participants should not be entering communities with the mindset that know what is best for the community and its residents, but instead they should enter these communities with the mindset that our community partners and the residents are the experts, and we must learn to listen before we attempt to provide help. This work not only catalyzes their leadership potential, but it also strengthens Tulane’s relationship with the New Orleans community.

As I had previously mentioned in my other blog posts, DREAM provides participants with 4 hours of social emotional learning (SEL) programming every week. This programming is critical for it does not reinforce the toxic patriarchal standards and stereotypes that are currently present in our society. This programming allows children to simply be children, but to also recognize the impact of their actions. SEL programming provides the necessary tool for healthy emotional development in impoverished areas. Some topics that were discussed in SEL programming was respecting regarding each other’s identities and gender stereotypes and how they can impact our identities. It is important to note that these conversations were not watered down conversations, but conversations that were designed for the age level that it was being delivered to. Examples of gender stereotypes and its effects were examples that rising 4th and 5th graders could understand. For instance, an example of a gender stereotype that was provided was if a player had told one of his teammates that they hit “like a girl.” The on-site social worker explored the various consequences of that term and by the end of the discussion, students were confident in their understanding of respect and the negative impact of gender stereotypes. Tackling these issues and conducting important dialogues such as the ones at DREAM ensure that we are raising a generation of inclusive members of society.

My advice to female-identifying individuals looking to pursue in the non-profit sector is to prepare yourself for the long journey ahead. Non-profit work is not easy work and often times, the change we would like to see does not occur in a timely manner. Be resilient, be a catalyst for change, and be unwavering. We are strong and we are leaders. Success is what YOU define it as and it is important to not place a monetary value on the work you may accomplish at non-profit organizations.

My final days as an Intern at The Child Abuse and Domestic Violence Bureau

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After months in the courtroom, and not as a Defendant, I can proudly announce this: my experience as an Intern in the Child Abuse and Domestic Violence Bureau of The New York District Attorney’s Office is over!

I find it strange that a simple internship has changed my perspectives over the past few months. Early this May it seemed unimaginable what I would witness in the upcoming summer as an Intern. Now, writing after leaving the courtroom doors for the last time, I can say with confidence that, as a result of my internship, my character will be forever changed.

Previous to working in the Child Abuse and Domestic Violence Bureau, I had a preconceived notion that law was a male-dominated and female disclosive industry. But rather, over the past months working with both female judges and lawyers, I have come to understand that a positive relationship between gender and social justice is essential to the legal workplace. In fact, most of the attorneys in my bureau were female and were just as passionate as their male counterparts about serving justice to those affected by domestic violence. But, despite the overwhelming amount of female attorneys I spoke to throughout my internship, there still exists a gap in the industry that much of the private law sector is dominated by males.

If I were to give a piece of advice to female-identified individuals who wish to find leadership in the legal workplace, I would say this: do not let the numbers scare you. Women are an essential component of the judicial process and you should not let your gender limit you from achieving what you wish to achieve. And this applies to any women who wish to work towards any profession: everyone has their own inner potential. If we capitalize on our diversity, we can create a workforce not only inclusive but also emboldened by new and different ideas.

In addition, over my time as an Intern, I have learned by studying the techniques of many lawyers in the courtroom the methods to becoming an effective problem solver, change agent and citizen. By observing their behaviors and interactions both on and off trial, I can give the following steps to effect change.

Step One: Identify the problem you wish to change and understand its systemic roots.

Oftentimes, when we go to address a problem which we think needs fixing, we will go about creating solutions which fail to incorporate what our problem is actually about. To understand the roots of the issue you are trying to influence, conduct your own private research and ask those affected by the issue many questions.

Step Two:   Create a strategy.

Without a plan of action, it is impossible to implement your goal into action. You should create a hierarchy of your goals and determine realistic objectives you wish to achieve throughout your advocacy. Most importantly, you should create your strategy while being conscious of the effect your plan will have on others. For instance, In Domestic Violence Court, attorneys must structure arguments which both prove the defendant is guilty of a crime and ensure that the victim is not traumatized once again.

Step Three:   Take action.

Although this step seems simple in theory, taking action involves not only passion on behalf of you and your team, but faith in the mission of your cause. What distinguishes a mediocre change agent from a great change agent is how much work the change agent is willing to input to utilize their strategy to change reality.

This summer, I set out a list of objectives I wished to achieve by the end of my internship. By the end of my internship, I wished to gain experience in legal research and writing, trial preparation, courtroom processes and women’s advocacy work. By assisting the Assistant District Attorneys to compile cases, examining evidence and sitting in on Domestic Violence Court, Integrated Domestic VIolence Court, Arraignment Court, Youth Court, and Family Court, I believe I have accomplished these objectives. But, there is still much I wish to learn.

Within the criminal justice system, there are so many different components which contribute to victim’s experiences and affect the methods by which crime is controlled as a whole. During my upperclassmen years at Tulane, I wish to get more involved in the New Orleans Parish prison system to understand the relationship between incarceration and crime in both New Orleans and the United States.

If there is one thing I have learned from my internship, it is that you can never stop learning. I plan to continue to advocate for female leadership throughout my time at Tulane and beyond and advocate for Newcomb’s mission to educate others towards female leadership and create the change I wish to see in the world.

Reflecting on Transition Projects

This summer has offered me more than I could ever express in a blogpost. From creating a database of volunteers and donors to organizing the donations to be given to the homeless clients, Transition Projects gave me the opportunity to experience a number of jobs. By working with a plethora of professionals, I feel like I have a much stronger sense of how a non-profit functions–one of my learning goals for the summer. This summer has also given me a number of new skills. I learned how to work on non-profit applications, such as Volgistics, DonorPerfect, and Outlook scheduling. With the Point in Time Homelessness Count for Portland in 2017, I have a much better idea of the demographics and issues facing the homeless population.

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Statistics from the 2015 Point In Time Homelessness Count: http://www.oregonlive.com/portland-homeless/

 

Beyond that, I learned about solution-based, effective change. Transition Projects prides itself on working with individuals to help themselves rather than to be helped by others. Close to 100% of the population that go through the program maintain the housing that they obtain and the organization works closely with them beyond that. One of the most moving aspects of the internship was attending the Mentor Program graduation. The Mentor Program trains individuals who have received housing in health, career, relationship, leadership, and self-care trainings. After a few months of programming, they celebrate the accomplishments of those in the program. Hearing the stories was extremely powerful, but seeing people who worked a few desks over from me give such moving talks was indescribable. Going in, I had not even an inkling that they had experienced the trauma on the street, let alone homelessness on its own. Change is built upon relationships and Transition Projects is an impressive display of that.

Homelessness in Portland

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New Orleans, like Portland, is no stranger to issues of homelessness. According to a 2015 report from the National Alliance to End Homelessness, the New Orleans metro area has the second-highest rate of homelessness in the nation. I hope to build off of my experience at Transition Projects by gaining a deeper understanding of homelessness in the South. I hope to find organizations that are aiming to make realistic, efficient, and important changes in the lives of those on the street. From volunteering to interning, I would like to get involved in the work being done in Louisiana. After undergrad, I hope to take this mission abroad.

Having completed an administrative internship, I hope to be working closer to the vulnerable population in the future. This school year, I am hoping to attend trainings on entering communities, many of which have been affected by trauma. After these trainings and beginning to use that training with my volunteer work, I want to work towards entering communities abroad in a respectful and open way.

If I were to give advice to a student interested in an internship at Transition Projects, I would say to not be afraid to ask for more work. Many times, the employees of non-profits are quite busy and always have additional work for you to take care of. If you don’t tell them that you have finished your first assignment, it is likely that you will be waiting until they initiate a second. This is true beyond Transition Projects and the non-profit sector as a whole. Speak up and be brave.

Transition Projects was an extremely safe space for all genders, religions, races, etc. Going into the internship, I don’t think I had set ideals of concepts of gender and social justice in the work place. I just knew that it was an area I was interested in exploring. My advice for women interested in finding leadership is, again, to speak up. More than that, research the organization you will be working for. Go in for a meeting and focus how employees work together and treat each other. If you have concerns about anything, do not hesitate to say something. Most of the time, employers would like to know how their workspace appears to an intern or someone who is not yet a part of the organization. Overall though, I never faced any kind of discrimination at Transition Projects and the characteristics that make me who I am were celebrated. I definitely will be visiting in the future.

End of Sex Crimes Internship

Even at the midpoint of my internship I felt that I was meeting the goals I had set out for myself before starting.

The first of the goals was to learn how to best interview victims. I have been able to sit-in on interviews. Most recently was a forensic interview of a child, which was particularly interesting because there are specific guidelines on how to interview children to avoid leading them in one direction. My office had to have a specialist from the University of Southern California come in and conduct the interview, while we watched in another room via a live-streaming service provided by USC.

My second goal was to learn more about the standard of prosecuting Sex Crimes. I have accomplished this goal by screening cases as they come in, and trying to match the elements of the law to see if the case should move forward. I have also been able to talk to DAs about he difficulties of pursuing cases they know might not seem strong enough in the eyes of a jury.

My third goal was to apply things that I had learned in the Politics of Rape course that I took last semester. I feel that this was best accomplished when I talked to DAs about Title IX processes, because the DAs are largely removed from that system. It was interesting to hear their perspective of the movement going on right now about rapes on college campuses. My office gets cases from USC and the DAs said that they feel there has been a rise in such cases being reported within the last few years.

My fourth goal was to reconnect with attorneys I have worked with in the past and I have been able to do it.

Lastly, my fifth goal was to get a better idea of whether or not I would want to work in Sex Crimes in the future. I can confidently say that I would be very interested in working in Sex Crimes again and plan on interning in the same office next summer!

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Building off of this experience, I would love to get more involved with organizations on campus and organizations in general that help victims of sexual assault. This summer I worked in Sex Crimes and next summer I might want to build off of that experience and work in the Human Trafficking Section of Sex Crimes. I would also like to pursue a thesis that involves Sex Crimes in some way.

I would advise anyone interested in an internship at the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office to apply! I’ve had a great time interning there and the internship lends itself to making connections so once you’re in if you like it you can likely come back again.

I feel very lucky to have been in a workplace where the bosses were all women, and all of the women in the office are clearly well respected. It is always helpful to see women in strong roles, and pick their brains about what it is like to try to have a family with a career. I think it’s important to talk to women in the workplace to get an idea of what it is like for them to work.

The biggest thing (and probably the most obvious thing) that I learned this summer in regards to being a problem solver/change agent/citizen is that people should report sexual assaults. The prosecutors take difficult cases and provide a wonderful support system for victims.

 

Closing Remarks

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It is hard to believe my City Council internship is over, as it seems like the summer flew by quite fast. I learned a good deal about city government, much more than I thought I would. I was able to work on and research a verity of projects, including pre-arrest diversion programs, restorative tax abatement, historical restoration, HIV/AIDs prevention programs, and crime. My largest project, though, was the grammatical editing I did on the entire 1000+ page master plan for New Orleans. While editing might not seem that thrilling, I understood the significance of having an error-free, official document. Furthermore, I read about a plethora of issues I had never considered before, like alternative rain water management methods and zoning restrictions. I also did practical things, like file paperwork and enter data, which will be useful in any field I enter.

Though my end goal is to work either on a national or international scale, I strongly feel that understanding how city government works is vital to being successful in these fields. City government is the basis of our society, and no matter what field I choose in politics, I am sure that I will encounter and work with it. I now have experience in city government, which is not something my competition will necessarily have.

I feel more confident working in a bigger government now that I have a foundational understanding of how most governments function. Next summer, I am going to applying to internships both with the national government and NGOs that work internationally. Because of my experience these past couple of months, I will feel more confident and prepared on the first day of whatever internship I end up at next. I would like to gain experience with topics that more directly relate to my specific interests, such as counter terrorism, national security, or foreign aid. New Orleans” City Council has prepared me for taking the next step towards my future.

The last two months have taught me a lot. In regards to female representation in politics, I have learned that there is absolutely no reason for there to be less women at the table (which is far too often the case). New Orleans’ City is made up of four women and three men, and gender had nothing to do with how strong a member’s will was, how much they cared, or how reasonable they were. Rather, their relationships with others, listening and speaking skills, ideas, and passion dictated how much impact the council members had. To other women seeking to enter the political field, I would tell them not to let anyone tell them no or criticize them because of their gender. It is one thing if they receive criticism because their skills are lacking, but it is unacceptable if anything is motivated based on their gender.

My advice to people wanting to work in politics in general is to say yes as often as they can. My internship would not have been as rewarding and educational if I had turned down projects that sounded boring or that I had no background education in. Topics that seem boring at first are fascinating once one understand them (ex: I never imagined that historical restoration debates could get so heated). Lastly, it is okay not to know everything going into to an internship. Internship are meant to being learning opportunities, and just because a topic might be unfamiliar does not mean you can not deal with it. You will learn and pick up the necessary information faster than you think, and most people are fine with answering any questions you might have.

I am so thankful for my time at City Hall, and I will not forgot the many lessons or people I met. This was a great beginning to my political career, and I cannot wait to see where it takes me.