Inside Scoop of SIF’s Communications Department - A Forest Foundation Intern Perspective

Reflecting on my three month internship at SIF

When I joined the Social Innovation Forum (SIF) as their first Summer Communications intern, I was coming in with a nonprofit background centered firmly around disability advocacy. I was diagnosed with Tourette’s Syndrome and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder at seven years old, and I became a Tourette Association of America Youth Ambassador at 12 after training as an advocate in Washington, D.C., and continued my advocacy in high school and throughout college. My background in advocating for people with disabilities is part of what led me to nonprofit work. At SIF, I’ve been introduced to a myriad of different nonprofit organizations in the Greater Boston area that are committed to working for equity. 

I joined SIF through the Forest Foundation’s summer internship program, an initiative that funds competitive internships for college students interested in working with Greater Boston nonprofits. After I was selected for the Forest Foundation’s program, they placed me with SIF and I was thrilled to be selected and grow my skillset in nonprofit communications and events.

A typical day for me at SIF is eventful. At the beginning and end of each day, I check in with my supervisor, Kassandra (Senior Communications and Brand Coordinator), to outline my priorities and tasks. I spend a half-hour engaging with our community on social media and keeping an eye out for potential stories to spotlight. Then, I might work on our next social media posting during the morning which usually involves drafting up graphics and messaging. I’ve been a part of several team meetings and event planning committees focused on communications, programs, development, and funder education. Later on in the day, I might run tech for a Zoom meeting with funders, update the website, and monitor our social media analytics.

Part of my day is devoted to working on our video projects, and developing them has been the central focus of my internship. The project I’m most proud of is our “Field Insights” video series, which just launched at the end of July. It was in development before I arrived, and it’s been my goal this summer to bring it to launch. From the draft stage to choosing the format, to making graphics, to promoting - and then finally watching it go live. It feels great knowing that something we worked on together will keep going beyond this summer!

I had no idea how much work goes into communications. Our collaborative work process means that feedback is always available, which is super helpful when drafting communication materials. Team communication is central to our work as we bounce ideas back and forth. It’s a lot of responsibility to work on something that will be seen by so many people, but I’m lucky to have such a supportive team in Kass and Pavel (Director of Community Mobilization). My biggest takeaway from this summer has been learning how to work cohesively on time-sensitive, high-pressure communication projects. 

I’ve learned so much this summer, about nonprofit communications specifically, but also about the ins and outs of how a nonprofit organization runs day-to-day. I feel so privileged to have worked at SIF with such genuinely friendly people and such a positive work environment, and it has been exciting to learn about the large network of non-profit organizations that SIF works with. This summer has been wonderful and I’ll miss everyone so much! 

About the Author

Isobel McCullough interned with SIF's Communications Department during Summer 2021 as part of the Forest Foundation's 2021 Summer Internship program. She is a Senior at the University of Rhode Island, where she is majoring in Film/Media, French, and Music History & Literature; and has continued her disability advocacy work across many avenues, most recently by helping to create the @possabilityuri "disability positivity" campaign, which was just picked up by URI's Office of Disability Access & Inclusion as part of their official social media strategy. 

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