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The Symba Spotlight Part Five: Rose Lopez

Written by Anika Pasilis on July 13, 2020
4 min read

The Symba Spotlight Part Five: Rose Lopez 

Rose Lopez of Pay Our Interns recently helped contribute to a report about racial diversity in congress. Rose has already helped significantly with the #SaveInternships movement through her work at Pay Our Interns. Read her story and get to know her below.

Tell us about yourself.

I am defending my thesis this Fall 2020 toward my Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Florida International University in Miami, and I'll graduate in December. I'm aiming for a career that will bring my skill and love for storytelling together with the opportunity to advocate for and build communities. I'm most passionate about making educational opportunities available to all, and delivering them in fresh and engaging ways. In addition to reading and writing, I spend a lot of time playing and chasing after my two daughters, not enough time hanging out with my husband, and (maybe just enough time) running.

Tell us about your remote internship. What is your title, and what are the projects and daily tasks you work on?

I am an Outreach and Research Associate for Pay Our Interns. I have been interning with them for just about a month, and so far no day has been exactly the same. I have tracked recipients and donors of the Intern Relief Fund, a cash grant awarded to those who have had their internships cancelled, are working unpaid internships despite financial hardship, or were never able to land a summer internship because of COVID-19. I've also crafted language used for social media posts to raise awareness of the Fund.

Last week we released a 23-page report, which I copy-edited, on the racial makeup of interns in the House of Representatives. I contributed to drafts of an op-ed, which I also copy-edited, related to the report. And I helped craft tweets which we shared with Congressional offices to amplify the release of the report.

I write a lot of emails, too: emails to donors of the Intern Relief Fund, thanking them for their contributions; emails to Communications Directors and Legislative Directors and Press Secretaries, sharing highlights of the report, and asking that they share the report with their connections.

Rose Lopez

What are you enjoying most about your remote internship?

I'm glad I get to put my writing and editing skills to use. It may sound strange, but I really enjoy refining a piece of writing until it's just right.

I've also absorbed a ton of information about communications strategies, through conversations I've either had a say in, or as note-taker. It's fascinating to hear and be a part of the way a message is crafted.

But the best part of my internship so far has been knowing that the work I'm doing is impacting people's lives. The report Pay Our Interns released last week, for example, will hopefully push Congress to change the way they hire interns. Hopefully, it will push them toward more inclusive--or, better, more representative--and more transparent hiring practices.

What new skills have you learned so far? 

I'd say so far my internship has allowed me to put skills to work, more than it has taught me new skills. For example, I took a course on Microsoft Excel and Microsoft Access (which are really cool programs, by the way). In the last two weeks, I've been able to put what I learned about Excel to use: I froze the top row of a spreadsheet to make it more readable, and then filtered results to find information in one minute rather than one hour. It sounds simple, but it was thrilling to apply a skill I'd learned in class to my work, and then turn around and give that information to my boss.

I've also learned more about creating a social media content calendar--the timing of posts, the format, etc.

How have your company and internship manager supported you through your internship? 

The organization with which I'm interning is a very small team, so I get to interact with and give my input to the head of the organization every day.

I have a lot of responsibilities outside my internship, and my boss is very mindful of that, and very flexible about how I manage my time. I dedicate the morning hours to my work while my husband watches the kids, then we switch, and then I squeeze in a couple more hours after the kids have gone to bed. I really appreciate, too, that my boss asks me things like, "Are you happy? What are you most excited about?" It's clear to me he wants to get as much as I can out of my experience.

What advice would you give to other interns about to embark on their first remote internship?

1) Be honest about your needs and obligations. If you have classes to study for, or family obligations to fulfill, keep your superiors aware. Communication is key.

2) Be proactive. Don't just do the tasks you've been asked to do and stop there. Try to stay one step ahead. If you've crossed everything off your to-do list, ask for more to do. Better yet, find ways to be helpful on your own. Figure out how you might streamline a process. Come up with ideas for a project that's on everyone else's back-burner, then send those ideas to your supervisor in an email or share them on the Drive with the group.

3) Check in. Your organization will probably (hopefully) make the effort to set up virtual gatherings with the rest of your cohort, or have group calls once a week, but try to check in with your supervisor at least once a day if you can. Even if all you do is keep a written log of all the tasks you've completed that day and emailing it to your supervisor, checking in daily keeps you connected and keeps everyone accountable.

By Anika Pasilis

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