About a month ago, I completed my internship at the Center for Neighborhood Technology in Chicago. I really loved my time at CNT; from day one I was treated as a member of a team and not as an intern. I worked with people of varying backgrounds and from different levels of the organizational hierarchy on a daily basis. Therefore, verbal and written communication skills played a particularly important role for me.
Working at CNT required me to talk to people in various levels of the organizational hierarchy in both casual and professional situations. It was important for me to be able to tell when and where each conversational style was appropriate. Additionally, on many occasions, I attended meetings as a representative for my boss or for CNT. This required knowing the relationship between the individual and who I was representing, so that I could position myself to accomplish what I was sent to do. I had to ensure that I showed respect when meeting someone new, the trust of meeting with a long time ally, and the strength of being backed by a 34 year old organization. For example, at my meetings for Go To 2040, I had to provide feedback on behalf of my boss. Because she is a board member of this organization it was important for me to be well versed in the topics at hand, and to know the stances that she would take on particular issues. I then had to report back to my boss, so that she or myself could continue the conversation if she felt it necessary.
My writing skills were enhanced while crafting blogs, composting policy documents, and summarizing laws because they all required a different style of writing. The blogs were informal and had to be understood by anyone that visits the CNT website. The policy documents, on the other hand, required two different styles of writing. Some policy documents were for internal use, so they could use environmental jargon. However, some documents were to be posted on the website and therefore required professional, yet less technical writing. And finally, summarizing laws required understanding what aspects of the law are the most important and how they will affect the role of CNT in the environmental field or the relationship that Americans/ businesses have with the environment and how CNT can help. For this writing style, BCEP’s law classes were extremely helpful.
I really learned a lot in the four months that I spent at CNT. I appreciated being treated a member of the organization and never as a stereotypical intern. I enjoyed learning about how many non-for-profit organizations operate in the environmental field and what my role could be if I pursue a career in this sector. I also had fun spending every day in Chicago and getting to know the different neighborhoods of the windy city.