The work we do is important, but the work they do is everything.

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As my time at my internship comes to a close, I am reflecting on my time here as a whole. This was the most in-depth experience I’ve had with grassroots organizing. I spent every day going door-to-door talking to voters about the Save Our Public School campaign, having personal conversations with bank workers to discuss concerns they might have involving wages or scheduling, and attending protests and actions to stand in solidarity with other social justice causes such as Black Lives Matter and the Fight for $15.

I took this internship to get a sense for what area of politics/organizing I want to pursue. I’ve been able to explore the bottom up approach more this summer, and if we’re being honest, I can’t say right now that I came to a conclusion about what I want to do. I’ve had an incredibly hands on experience getting to talk to people about the concerns that they have, trying to make a stir and catch the attention of top level decision makers. As of now, I think this has been more fulfilling than my experiences at the “top down” level, but it’s difficult to say because obviously every job and office is very different.

One of the great things about this internship program is the weekly training series that educates us on different skill sets in this line of work. We did one focused on how to develop and communicate to the public a message that is clear, powerful, and leaves enough of an impression to make change. Speaking with the leader of the workshop about how she developed tools surrounding marketing and communications made me realize that this could be an avenue that fits my interests. I was able to dabble with some marketing earlier on this summer when I created images and infographics to support a campaign for university adjunct professors. Trying my hand at marketing  for social justice organizations could be the two things I want in a job – creative work while making positive change in the world. I’m a bit surprised that I actually came out of this summer with a new(ish) type to work to look into and I’m excited to do so!

For me, the most powerful moment of the internship was when we were having a meeting surrounding strategy for carrying out one of our workers’ rights campaigns. One intern asked about giving out a card with our organization’s contact information on it, and one of the employees at JWJ came out strongly against it, warning that a boss finding a card like that could jeopardize the worker’s very job (we are constantly aware of the anti-union practices that some companies carry out). She spoke passionately about this and at one point said, “The work we do is important, but the work they do is everything to them.” This hit me hard and was a reminder that I’m so, so lucky to have the privilege of entering a line of work that treats me well, and the privilege of leaving if it ever doesn’t. Many workers are mistreated, receive low wages, are forced to work long hours, and face discrimination, among so much more. The work we do is important, and I hope to always do important work, but this was a powerful moment that reminded me of the reality of the situation and that I am working with people, for them, not above them.

Written by Megan Flynn, BC Class of 2017

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What Do We Want? Justice!

Megan Flynn

Preparing to knock on doors to inform voters about the Save Our Public Schools Campaign.

Two weeks ago I started my internship at Jobs with Justice, a non-profit in Jamaica Plain, and have easily gotten right into the rhythm of the office and the work we do. The organization is centered around workers and union rights, including how they relate to immigrant populations. We also have been working around public education. Every day I get to meet with new people and learn more and more about issues facing Boston and Massachusetts, and by conducting research, designing marketing materials, making phone calls, knocking on doors, and attending protests and rallies, together our group strives towards making positive changes in the community.

After describing this to one of my friends, she remarked, “that has to be the most BC internship there ever was.” I’ve had much preparation for this type of work – the ability to work with people and to feel comfortable speaking up both to offer my views and to ask questions are skills that I have developed in the classroom and extracurriculars at BC. More than that though, BC has championed the commitment to becoming an active participant in the world. We are taught that our education is not for ourselves but for others, because many others have not been dealt the hand that we have and we have no business taking it for granted. The organization I’m at now encourages me to stand up for those who are not making livable wages, who are not being treated fairly, who do not have access to the educational resources that I have, and who have had their voice taken from them. The importance of engaging with those around us to learn about and adjust our perceptions of social systems, and then to act to make change, is, to me, at the core of what I have taken from BC. It is not so much a skill as a mindset, and it is incredibly important to the work I’m doing at my job.

Much of this mindset was instilled in me through the PULSE program, which is probably the most significant experience that has prepared me for this internship. Working at Rosie’s Place, a women’s homeless shelter, helped me to feel comfortable working with populations I hadn’t before, and to listen to and try to understand their stories. It also taught me practical skills necessary for working in an office, such as how to be flexible as an intern, and to both follow directions but also to take initiative and go beyond what I am told to do. In short, it gave me real world experience to put our “men and women for others” motto into practice. Going forward in my internship I’m excited to see what new things I learn and to find the areas that I truly am passionate about!

Written by Megan Flynn, BC Class of 2017