So the past couple weeks at INIE have been very interesting to say the least. The fantastic experiences from INIE can be random and bountiful! So rewind back three weeks to our historical after hours talk at the TCC Center for innovation. INIE is located in the TCC Capitol Center which is now known as the TCC Center for Innovation. Jessica our Executive Director had asked me earlier in the week if I would cover the event since it was an after-hours event and we had to have a member of the staff on site during the event, I told her I would. Now it is about 5:30 and I check in with Brittany Christie, who is over the operations of the center. I get the key to lock up at the end of the night and I wait until the hosts of the event got there. I help them set up and then head back upstairs. Alyssa Duany who is also on this blog, arrives shortly after! So the event is going smooth and then Alexa who is our Office Manager notifies me that we all are about to get interviewed, per usual the random experience.
So the TCC anchor and cameraman give us a quick review before interviewing each one of us one by one. They also filmed us around the space for additional footage. This turned out to be an amazing and made for a very interesting watch as you can see for yourself here! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k4Gpwgfxfr8
Another highlight of the last few weeks was that I got to sit in on a Board Orientation Meeting. The new Board member was William McCluskey. He is the founder of Proper Channel. Alyce Lee Stansbury (Owner of Stansbury Consulting), who is the Board Chair was also in attendance as well as Jessica and Alexa. Being able to see firsthand how an organization brings a new member was a huge opportunity that I really enjoyed. We covered things from financials, to the history of INIE, the goals for the future and more. The meeting often times strayed away into great conversation that Mr. McCluskey initiated through his profound points of view. He has the zig when others zag mentality. It was truly amazing getting to know him as well as Alyce Lee.
I have always linked my interest in the field of social entrepreneurship with my commitment to and passion for activism. The fight for equality and social justice drives me. But there was a gap in my sense of altruism. I always envisioned myself overseas, fighting for human rights or contributing to some global humanitarian effort. Since beginning my work with Heritage Hub, I have realized that learning to foster a love for the environment around me and my own community is the first step in making any sort of change. That connection with a community, that deep understanding of an individual’s needs and beliefs, is what allows for mobility.
My most recently assigned task at the Hub is to go to other farmer’s market in the surrounding Tallahassee area and study them. Because the Frenchtown Marketplace is so young, it has great potential for growth. I created a spreadsheet to track my findings and chart how many produce vendors each market has, how many resale vendors it has, the average prices, and the variation in the product selection. What I have found most effective and beneficial is simply talking to the vendors. This has helped me best understand the mission and structure of the market.
Once I have visited the rest of the markets, I will be able to analyze the data to help my supervisors better understand how to improve Frenchtown Marketplace. I have been looking forward to incorporating business elements into my internship experience and have enjoyed thinking analytically and entrepreneurially for this project.
Additionally, I am assisting one of my supervisors in hosting a vendor education event. This event allows the market’s vendors to present their product(s) and receive feedback on packaging, presentation, customer engagement, and product quality. The event will also feature a graphic designer, a chef, and a marketing expert to help our vendors improve their small businesses. I have also created a comment card (featured bellow) to better facilitate feedback so the vendors can easily sort through or implement the suggestions of either the experts or their fellow vendors.
There is no better place to have given me my introduction to the world of local farming than Heritage Hub. My activism is now more comprehensive and complete because of the lessons I am learning. Change starts in our own backyards with not only our neighbors and community, but also our own small portion of the Earth. My sense of environmentalism has increased greatly because of my newfound understanding of our interconnectedness. I am so appreciative of the edification my experience at Heritage Hub has provided for me and look forward to continuing to soak up of the information and opportunity surrounding me.
February 20th, 2017 5:00 PM. The event is in 30 minutes. Community members are arriving, INIE members are arriving and weeks of hard work have all come down to this. E-mails have been sent, registration links have been clicked and now we wait for the arrival.
The event is called the Board Recruitment Mixer, and I had been given the task of finding the venue for the event and reaching out to members of the community to inform them of the event. I spent hours at the office researching different multicultural and minority organizations in order to inform them of the event. The goal for the mixer was to invite members of the community, looking to join a board, to mingle and meet with current nonprofit organization members, looking for board members. INIE is working towards diversifying nonprofit’s board members in the Big Bend Region and beyond. In my opinion, I think having an event like this is unique and a great opportunity to expand and diversify our sector. I am proud to be a part of a community and an organization that wants to diversify perspectives, ideas, and people.
Now, the moment of truth. 5:30 PM on Monday the 20th. I enter the Lemoyne center for visual arts and it is a scene of high energy and excitement, part of the reason I love working at INIE. I sit at the registration table and start checking people in. One by one, INIE and community members enter the center excited and intrigued about our event and what the evening will hold. About an hour goes by and over 50 people have come to our event! On quick breaks from checking people in, I look around the art center and notice everyone really enjoying themselves and I feel a sense of pride because I played a small part in putting this event on. After talking to some board members and members of the community, everyone gives some great feedback and I was honored to get the opportunity to network with current board members in this community.
The Board Recruitment Mixer was a great success and I was so happy to be a part of it! I learned a lot from this event and feel honored I was able to help and learn from professionals in a field I am thinking more and more about pursuing. INIE so far has allowed me to connect and network with so many people so far, thus allowing me to really appreciate this sector and feel I want to pursue a career in this field!
There are a lot of things runners practice besides the sport itself: staying hydrated, getting good rest, and staying focused. Any runner who has hit a high, subsequently followed by a slump, knows that when you don’t feel well, you don’t perform well. Taking care of oneself is important to being a runner, and staying on top of our game. This is also true in an internship.
I have found that it takes a great balancing act to perform to the best of our abilities. So far, I have been working closely with Ericka McKibbin to get ready for upcoming events. We have the Women in Leadership conference happening next week, where I will be tabling the event and recruiting local volunteers. Additionally, we’ve been getting documents ready for our official season kick off, which started this week!
My scope of leadership roles in my internship has narrowed, to where I will be joining the 5k committee. I will be assisting with planning and arranging volunteers for our big event. I am excited, but also nervous. However, I don’t see it as daunting, due to all of the fun, interactive elements of my internship. For instance, here’s a picture from the FSU Women’s Basketball Game. We spent the night honoring our GOTR volunteers, thanks to the amazing people at Comcast who set us up in the box seats! It was an amazing night, and I’m happy to say I feel like I’ve caught my stride.
My first few weeks at The Apprenticeship Center have been really great. I entered the office on the first day not knowing what exactly to expect, but I was very excited nonetheless. I was welcomed with open arms and felt really comfortable with all the staff and the other interns, and I immediately felt at home. Linda Alexionok and the interns showed me the ropes around he office and got me up to date on the organization, as well as the work that was being done in the community.
Linda Alexionok, the executive director of The Children’s Campaign is a wonderful and motivational person that I am excited to work with and learn from. Being part of the organization pushes me to apply what I have learned about social entrepreneurship, and allows me to continue to learn through hands on work in the office. My role in the organization is to work on the Voices for Florida project, a partner organization of the Children’s Campaign. VFF is a non-profit organization that engages with thought-leaders in the community and pushes them to become change-makers for the most pressing social problems facing families and children in the state of Florida.
My first assignment is to develop a logic model for Voices for Florida. This will help us and the community understand how the organization works and measure the impact it is having on the children of the community. The assignment allows me too think critically and implement entrepreneurial thinking while applying what I have learned in the several social entrepreneurship courses I have taken at FSU. Besides being able to work on my project, I am able to partake in Friday meetings int he ‘War-Room’. This is where I get a chance to listen to and partake in discussions on public-policy issues and changes that the organization is pushing to implement in order to create positive social change for Florida’s children. I am excited to see what the rest of this internship holds and the impact I will be able to make on the community.
I had never given too much thought to where the bananas I ate with my breakfast every morning came from. Yes, I would see the stickers on them sometimes representing my own country, Guatemala and think ” how neat.” But I never truly wondered about the farmers growing them, the problems they may face in the process, or what those fruits meant to them. That is, until my first day at FAVACA.
FAVACA is a small non for profit that works to place volunteers in Latin America and Caribbean countries, in order to train small farmers and grassroots groups. Since I was young I have wanted to work internationally to help developing countries achieve a better quality of life. And while it’s typical to think of hands on work to make this happen, very few people consider the organization, legal, and financial component of this task.
That is exactly what FAVACA does. FAVACA applies funds and coordinates volunteers to travel to these countries with a need in a specific area. My first day, this area was bananas. I was briefed on our latest project, we needed a Panama Disease expert to travel to the Dominican Republic and help train local banana farmers on the prevention of this disease. You see, this disease wiped out the banana industry in the 50’s and has forced banana growers to modify the genetic composition of current bananas. Farmers fear that, should this disease strike again it will wipe out bananas as a whole.
And so my work began, my first week consisted of researching, contacting, and recruiting plant pathologists to volunteer with FAVACA. As a program coordinator I handle the logistics of travel arrangements, insurance, embassy registrations, and communications with volunteers. Seeing as volunteers are critical to delivering our mission, it is important I do my work thoroughly. I have learned and expanded my capabilities greatly in the few weeks I have been at FAVACA. More than anything, I have come to know and appreciate not just bananas, but other products that are produced globally. Through this internship I am able to experience the work it takes to run a non for profit and still feel the impact of the work I do.
For nearly a month I have had the pleasure of being an intern at a upcoming nonprofit named the Institute of nonprofit innovation and excellence. So far this has been one of the best experiences of my life. On the first day I was ready for whatever he day brought. It ended up being more than I expected it to be. The tasks can vary daily which is one of the reasons it is so exciting for me.
INIE was my first choice for internships and I was thrilled that I was blessed to get my top choice. I wanted the opportunity to learn and grow at one of the best up and coming nonprofits around. Also having the ability to work with an amazing director in Jessica Lowe-Minor is so beneficial. She is an amazing person ad never stops working. She is an approachable person and it always willing to help you with anything. She makes the experience very worthwhile. On my second day working she asked me to sit on a meeting with a potential INIE member. It was great seeing how she goes about her business and handling it all with poise.
I am the Rentals Coordinator so most of my work lately has been setting up reservations and potential renters. I email all potential renters and confirm them and put them into our system. I have a standard operating procedure that I have to follow. It helps having the procedure so that way I always know exactly what to do when making a reservation.
One challenge that I had so far was finally figuring out how to do an invoice and send it the correct way. The videos we watched on this made it seem easy but for the first hour I was scrambling. But I eventually figured it out and was able to send it of for a client that is renting the space at INIE for an event.
INIE is a great place that is committed to helping nonprofits sustain and grow. They have amazing contacts and networking opportunities that truly enhance the overall growth of a nonprofit. This is the area that I am most interested in when it comes to nonprofits because I feel like this is the most important.
So two weeks ago Jessica had a meeting so she would not be in the office, she called into the office and told me to sit in on a conference call for her and take notes. It turned out that I would be listening in on the Sustainability Committee meeting. This was an amazing experience for me and I was able to learn a lot just hearing their collaboration. It was one of those moments where I was like “this is exactly the experience I wanted from this internship”. After the teleconference Jessica came in about an hour later and I gave her the notes and told her about my interest in this and she told me she will assign me to the committee. This was a great moment for me personally.
The picture below is the board room where I took the phone call for the teleconference.