The Driftour Experience

This semester I have been given the exciting opportunity to work alongside the Driftour team as an intern. Driftour aims to cultivate connections between Tallahassee locals and the local businesses in the Tallahassee area. They accomplish this task through their online web application which allows users to take self-guided tours as well as to buy a subscription guaranteeing them access to one event each month hosted by a local business.

The working environment that Driftour has given me access to is both exciting and thought-provoking. Members of the Driftour team are often found meeting at Domi Station or a local coffee shop to workshop new ideas. As Driftour founder Val Rodriguez told me “this is startup culture.” Whether I am sitting at the table with members of the Driftour team, or talking to local business owners throughout Tallahassee; it becomes quickly apparent that this position at Driftour places me within degrees of many inspiring entrepreneurial minds.

Currently my responsibilities are very diverse. Much of our  manpower is focused on hashing out the future of our marketing plan, so I have been designing customer surveys as well as a brochure to present potential business partners. In addition to these responsibilities, one of my tasks is to conceptualize a way to utilize user-generated content for our company’s self-guided tours. Overall, I am very excited to be working on such an ambitious project. In fact, I find the ambitions which Val has for Driftour to be very inspiring as well and look forward to an interesting semester


My (Woven) Future

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“The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones that do.” -Steve Jobs

I believe every human being has the capacity to create positive and impactful change and thus change the world for the better. Some may say this is ignorant, but I say those of that belief are ignorant for ignoring human potential. The opportunity to intern for Woven Futures, I am learning more so each day how true this really is.

Woven Futures is inspiration for me. The enterprise, the impact, the artisans, and, of course, the dream team. It is such a holistically positive model and the change and inspiration is obvious in each decision Hannah, the founder, makes. My first couple of weeks at Woven Futures has inspired me so much and I am immensely excited for what we are going to accomplish together. It is so amazing to see the impact that Woven has in Guatemala and how this impact will grow throughout the course of the enterprise.

Hannah and Mackenzie’s, the other intern, passion for meaningful change excited me since the beginning and constantly inspires me to work hard at what we do. Hannah is so dedicated and one can see it in the way she explains her enterprise and how she works tirelessly to ensure that Woven is constantly growing. The three of us have worked so seamlessly together from the get go which makes me think that we’ll be able to not only conquer whatever obstacles may come our way but thrive as well. I can’t wait to see what the future has for me at Woven and I’ll be able to use it as a vessel for my journey of positive change. The Woven vision is one of impactful change and the fact that three college students have the audacity to think they can change the world is what keeps me going.

Weave your path,


Working with Woven

I am already seeing how incredible it is to be a part of Woven Futures. I am so excited to have this opportunity to work both with Woven’s founder, Hannah, and Gabby who is also interning, both of whom are extremely talented and creative. We have already begun the process of some collaborative work intended to improve and advance Woven Futures branding, structure, and marketing tactics. Gabby and I have worked on business and market reports, to compiling lists of possible businesses to collaborate with, to creating content for Woven’s social media platforms. We are working on story telling: how to get the message of Woven’s mission and what we do to our customers in the most interactive and effective way. We keep translucency as one of our most important goals, striving to let customers know where we source, how we source, and we source from our artisans in various areas Guatemala. I think it is so important to understand who you are working for and the core of the cause behind the enterprise.

We have so many exciting projects lined up. Gabby and I will be working together to compile a wholesale catalog, getting to create content and organize Woven’s product inventory. Between getting to table at local markets, to expo shows, I will able to practice working with product promotion and speaking with customers. We avidly search for new markets to enter and how we can deliver the most effect and efficient service to our customers. I personally am working towards making the user experience more interactive on the website and other media platforms.

I already love working with these lovely ladies out of DomiStation, which is proving to be a very unique experience. The work place is open and communal, allowing us to work among ourselves in designated office space, but also be able to collaborate and learn from the incredible individuals that also call Domi home. I absolutely love the space and am excited to further use its resources.

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Ubuntu – The Domi Story

One thing that I have known, deep in my bones, is what I do not want in a future job. It is much easier for me to describe a worst case scenario than a dream one for me. I could paint a picture for a blind man if I was allowed to write in that detail. I can picture the boss, I can smell the coffee, I can see the gray haze. A slow march to an endless and uninspiring goal. A place of insignificance.

Luckily for me, there is Domi. I have never been apart of an environment so alive, so full of hope. This may be because I have never really been exposed to start-up culture, but it really is revolutionary in my ability to see my future. They are my glasses; turning a fuzzy image into a clear one.

I think why they have had such a profound effect on me is because of the sense of community. I am privileged enough to sit with our highest shot-callers and move-makers like Dominick Ard’is and Lucas Lindsay, the former The Director of Programs and the latter The Executive Director, on a daily basis. I was surprised how empowered I am, being that I am only an intern. I am constantly given both positive reinforcement and critique, allowing me to become better everyday. This sense of community transcends just Domi employees. People who are work out of Domi are driven, they have laser focus, with tons of determination. Yet somehow, with those three adjectives, the office is vibrant; it effortlessly buzzes with energy.

What is important, and which is at the heart of this piece, is how they, or should I know say we, have the same effect on everyone who walks in the building. Ubuntu, a word from African philosophy, meaning “I am because we are” exemplifies this notion at Domi. The reason that Domi is dynamic and yet so productive is because our people are empowered to be as vibrant yet focused as possible. It is truly a lesson I will keep with me in this entrepreneurial journey. Domi’s ability to empower, inspire, and promote both economic and social growth is what social entrepreneurship is all about. Reminiscent of some classes I have taken with Bruce, placing empathy above all pays off.

Ubuntu. It perfectly says everything that Domi is about. Domi is excellent and unique because their people are unique. My spot in this world and on my entrepreneurial journey is still fuzzy, but Domi makes it much clearer.

Organized Chaos

This semester I am working with The Children’s Campaign and Voices For Florida. The Children’s campaign is a non-profit organization that advocates for Florida’s children. We raise awareness for an array of children’s issues including juvenile justice, child welfare, foster care, health care, education and more and urge legislators to make children a priority. Voices For Florida (VFF) is the sister organization that addresses issues facing children with an innovative approach. VFF has recently launched the Open Doors Outreach Network to address the pressing problem of sex trafficking in Florida. Unfortunately this is a growing national crisis, and Florida has the third highest records of reports. The billion dollar sex trafficking industry has become intertwined with so many areas of our society, and VFF has recognized that to make lasting, effective change, we need to bring everyone together to fight it. They are using a collective community impact model to build a network across industries in the public, private, and non-profit sectors with VFF as the back-bone organization.

I am very passionate about the issues addressed by TCC and VFF, and I am excited to be a part of such an important effort. I actually started off working with these organizations last semester as a communications apprentice. I have already learned so much from working here, and I am looking forward to getting more involved with the social entrepreneurial efforts of VFF and learning from my advisor, Linda Alexionok. Since the beginning of legislative session in January, our office has been super busy preparing for events and meetings, but this is not unusual. We like to refer to our office as organized chaos. There is always something new to do and learn. That being said, Linda and I have only been able to chat once about the project she wants me to work on, but we are both really excited about it. Finding time has really been the biggest challenge so far. There never seems to be enough of it, but what’s new. I anticipate facing new challenges as the semester continues, but I am excited for the chance to learn and grow.

Wouldn’t wanna be INIEwhere else

This semester, I have the great opportunity to intern with the Institute for Nonprofit Innovation and Excellence. I’ll be working as the events and rentals intern which encompasses many aspects of the organization’s mission which strives towards advocacy, education, and collaboration. In the past three weeks, I’ve already learned so much about the organization with brief glances of the challenges they face as a nonprofit.

Perhaps the most challenging aspect of this experience thus far is that much like many new experiences, the learning curve can be quite steep at times. Having worked in the startup environment and the university administrative environment, the nonprofit sector has always been a mystery to me, but uncovering its aspects has been very educational and insightful. As an intern, I want to represent the organization in a professional manner which can be quite challenging because it’s easy to get caught up in the small details, but much like many things, I think it takes time and I already think I’m getting the hang of a couple things. This past week, I ran my first successful event which was nerve-wracking but also so uplifting in my efforts as a contributing member of the small INIE team.

At INIE, the problems being addressed are much different than what I originally thought it would be. Working with different nonprofits, I see everyone tackling their own social problems, but as an organization that facilitates in their growth, we have different challenges that don’t primarily link to a specific social problem. Instead we face problems that the nonprofit sector contains such as membership, involvements, and collaboration. These are very transferable in many industries but especially prevalent in the nonprofit sector.

Upon joining the team, I knew that I wanted to be exposed to the work that nonprofits contain because they hold vital power in moving the needle of social problems. Having worked for the past three weeks, I’m already understanding what goes on in a nonprofit that seeks to facilitate in others’ missions. Organizations like INIE are really creating impact by being a resource to others which at times, is more important than working at a sole traditional nonprofit. I’m being exposed to a different aspect of the sector, but I’m so thankful for it.

Denise out.