Wrapping Up an Internship and an Undergraduate Career

Guest Blogger Christine Meyer ’14

meyer1Sadly, this is the last time I am posting on the CUPID Blog as a student, but I wish to reflect on my work with the Hayden-Harman Foundation and share the takeaways from I’ve gained from the internship. For those who are unfamiliar with the nonprofit, the Hayden-Harman foundation benefits philanthropy, voluntarism and grantmaking foundations, focusing specifically on private independent foundations programs. I specifically worked with the revitalization and community development program in High Point, North Carolina, specifically on Washington Street.

After meetings with RPR and weekly blog posts, I reflected on my experience with the foundation and reflected on the benefits of incorporating rhetorical thought in a nonprofit, workplace environment. So, here are some key takeaways to think about when writing and working for a nonprofit or even when interning in general:

1. Challenge yourself when confronted with challenges.
In nonprofit work and community development, you will be met with challenges. The challenges will vary in topic and importance, but challenge yourself to step back from the situation and ask, “what would a rhetorician do here?” Taking this back to rhetorical roots will help you tackle the challenge that you’re presented with. For example if you are met with a challenge in which everyone has conflicting opinions, take Aristotle’s advice and start with something everyone agrees upon. This will create a common ground and friendly base to build ideas off of.

2. Face to face communication works best when trying to build community development.
When trying to revitalize and get the entire community in on an event or activity, go out and talk to the people of the community. Talk to all types of people from all over town to get to know the full spectrum of what you are working with. This reflects Cicero’s perspective that rhetoric has a place in all spheres. Cicero believed rhetoric is used to represent the people. Face to face communication is the most effective way to know the people, so you can represent the people.

3. Clear messages get responses.
The clarity of a message is essential with any kind of promotional and marketing materials. The message will depend on the situation and the audience, but be sure this message is clear. To ensure clarity, think about creating a draft and bringing it to a community meeting or with you when you go door to door. Ask the community members what message they’re getting from the document and make revisions based on their interpretation of the message if necessary.

4. Ask for feedback.
Feedback is integral to the Professional Writing and Rhetoric courses, and professors often even build it in during class time. However in other settings, giving and receiving feedback may not be as facilitated, and therefore could become absent during your internship. To avoid this, ask your internship advisor how you’re doing, what has been successful, what needs improvement, what else would she/he like to see, etc. The feedback will aid you in future projects and help you perfect your skills.

Thanks for letting me share some quick advice, and if you have any questions please feel free to contact me.

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