Little did I know, Social Innovation Forum would exceed my expectations and have amazing opportunities and lessons for me as I joined at a time of exciting growth and change.
Northeastern University’s Co-op program is praised for placing students in high-level learning positions around the world, based on their field of study and interest. In addition to this, the co-op program is designed to help students excel at the process of applying for jobs, as we do it repeatedly during our co-op period. As a sophomore at Northeastern, the process was still fairly new to me and going into it, my hope was simply to learn as many skills as possible during my six-month co-op position. With this co-op as a starting point, I aspired to be equipped with the proficiencies and abilities required to run a successful business one day in India. Little did I know, Social Innovation Forum (SIF) would exceed my expectations and have amazing opportunities and lessons for me as I joined at a time of exciting growth and change.
I joined SIF as a Northeastern Co-op in the first month of the new year, 2017. I was ecstatic to join this marketplace and be a part of creating positive social change in greater Boston. SIF had just moved its headquarters and acquired another nonprofit called the Next Mile Project – a collaborative community and co-working space for nonprofits. Through this time of adjustment and uncertainty for the full-time SIF staff, instead of being left behind, I was valued from day one in the planning of office management, communication and marketing, event planning, and supporting several of my coworkers. As a student seeking a learning outcome from this co-op, I had definitely landed at the right place at the right time.
During my initial few months, I was able to support SIF with the final logistics as we moved into the Next Mile Project office space. Being responsible for various projects such as inventory management was an incredible learning curve for me in terms of time management, organization, and communication. This is just one of countless ways SIF has acted as a stepping stone to my professional development.
Assisting my coworkers in the planning, preparation, and execution of all the events were some of my proudest moments to date. Through the different events, I was able to build several significant and vital skills needed in the workforce today such as using Salesforce for data management and Constant Contact for digital communication. Even though it was a slow learning process and I made mistakes along the way – the team was extremely patient, supportive, and helpful in getting me there. This is a reflection of the culture here at SIF, the co-ops and interns are integrated with the staff and depend on each other for the remarkable work we do around Boston everyday – a true team effort!
In the past, I have always taken interest in helping an organization that educates children of women in prostitution in the red light area in Pune, India. The organization is run single handedly by an elderly lady, Dr. Ruby, who struggles to find staff to support her due to the area she works in. Previously, I used to draft a few emails and basic social media content for her based on my classroom business knowledge. After joining SIF and gaining hands on experience with how a nonprofit is run, I was able to support Dr. Ruby immensely by using Constant Contact to send out newsletters and appeal letters every month to funders on her behalf. In May, one of the largest corporations in India saw this effort and decided to fund the project as part of their corporate social responsibility efforts. As a result, the children’s lives will change immeasurably and this will help break a cycle of illiteracy in this part of India.
Thank you, Social Innovation Forum staff, for teaching me skills, ability to strive, and giving me the confidence that – intern or not – I am capable of making a change. The impact you have has exceeded greater Boston and reached the North of India, and I am grateful to have been a spectator and participant of this incredible journey! I can confidently say that through the different opportunities at SIF, every day was a true learning curve that helped me build a great foundation for the next chapter in my life.
About the author
Hannah served as a Co-op Student at Social Innovation Forum from January to June 2017, as part of Northeastern University’s Co-op Program. As such, she worked in communication, event planning, marketing, and office management. She is currently studying business and entrepreneurship at Northeastern University.