Lessons and Lingo from my Nonprofit Internship: Morgan Bassett

Morgan Bassett ’23 (PWR)

I felt very fortunate to accept an internship offer from the Human Services Council, a nationally recognized nonprofit. They tackle a myriad of issues pertaining to individuals’ safety, physical, and emotional health. My internship dealt directly with the Norwalk Mentor Program, based out of Norwalk, CT. Although it was a solely remote experience, I still worked alongside a team of interns and supervisors to register new mentors. There are currently over 300 Norwalk students who could greatly benefit from a caring adult in their lives, providing additional guidance and support during a time of difficulty. So, it was essential to develop persuasive deliverables that would encourage adults to mentor this fall.

During a period of eight weeks, I was able to produce and publish 5 deliverables for mentor recruitment. They’re now included in my digital portfolio, alongside reflections about the development process and execution of rhetorical choices. Each deliverable presented a new set of challenges and opportunities to improve my current writing abilities. More importantly, I now recognize several overarching themes that represent this collection of work and even define my entire internship experience. 

  1. Repurposing existing texts/materials saves invaluable time.

I discovered this strategy during my first week while composing an email pitch for potential new mentors. The pitch needed to provide an overview of the Norwalk Mentor Program for unfamiliar audiences, but I too was unfamiliar with these specifics. I ended up utilizing previously written articles about the program and surfing the Human Service Council’s website for other necessary facts. This initial process of repurposing allowed me to write a 5-line email pitch, and I eventually included these lines in other deliverables (i.e., the press release and social media posts). Outside of the internship, I’ve implemented efforts of repurposing to write digital articles and tackle course-related projects.  

  1. Sales-based strategies seep into communication in unexpected ways.

One of my supervisors explained that life is filled with sales lingo and behaviors. I can’t say I agree with their viewpoint wholeheartedly, but I did eventually see how my communicative efforts were riddled with specific sales-based strategies. One of these strategies was persuasion, which seeped into each deliverable. I needed to truly convince my audience to become a mentor before the summer ended. The urgency was heightened, so my final product passionately conveyed how mentoring was fun and easy, free of charge for only an hour (per week) of someone’s time. I was also very direct in my initial pitches and correspondences. My closing line would ask for a phone call with the recipient, then I would provide my own availability for that particular week. I quickly learned this maneuver was producing more sincere and timely responses, even if someone was telling me they were unavailable to mentor. I believe the goals of this internship require a strong devotion to sales techniques, especially since we are promoting the benefits of this program to a busy professional or unfamiliar individual. 

  1. Keep it colloquial!

I’ve always recognized and accepted my technical, formal writing style. It has defined my college research papers, argumentative pieces, and additional academic projects. However, I realized this style wasn’t consistently reaching my target audience for the internship, which included any adult from age 18 to 60 years old. This extremely large range forced me to shift into a more conversational tone, omitting excessive vocabulary and other unnecessary elements. I tackled this approach in all my deliverables, but I paid special attention to it while composing my press release. It was my longest deliverable that included a program overview and multiple quotes from the director. This higher word count held me accountable for a colloquial feel and read of the press release, which could become a document that recruited the most mentors during the internship. I composed each sentence to include the most important details, making sure not to repeat or embellish this information. Additionally, I read the document aloud several times, imagining that I was hearing it over the radio or reading it in a newspaper. Did any words or phrasing trip me up or sound unnatural to the ear? Could I simplify anything I had written even further? These questions allowed me to thoroughly evaluate this deliverable and deeply consider the importance of a clear, succinct write-up. 

I’m very thankful for the opportunity to dive into non-academic spaces and projects while discovering new communicative tools for my own storytelling.

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