All jobs and internships are learning opportunities. Being the Communications and Fundraising Intern at the Iowa Coalition Against Sexual Assault was no different. I obviously learned about communications and fundraising and how those two functions support one another in non-profit work. Just because it is a non-profit, does not mean that IowaCASA does not need money. The communication department communicates the need for funds to the community and the need to fundraise to members and member programs of the coalition.
Working at IowaCASA was also my first experience working in a traditional office. I learned about all that happens in an office from the policies to who makes sure there are coffee filters. I also learned about non-profit work and the battles that are fought for funding. The first step in working for IowaCASA was learning about the what is being done to promote a world free from sexual violence in Iowa. As an individual, I learned about the importance of social justice organizations and why they are needed in our communities. My time at IowaCASA helped me grow as a human operating in this world.
Working in non-profit arena is its own little world. The jargon sounds like a different language. My first two weeks at IowaCASA I kept a notebook of all the acronyms I heard so I could go figure out what they meant. My boss spent staff meetings texting me descriptions of all the organizations and legislation mentioned. I now have a vague understanding of the power players in the social justice world. My ears perk up when I hear an acronym that I actually understand. I would not say I am fluent in non-profit, but I’m at least conversational.
From a professional standpoint, I learned about the multiple levels that communications professionals have to operate on. At IowaCASA there was one communications specialist for the entire coalition who has to communicate within IowaCASA, with all of the member organizations, and with the press and public on behalf IowaCASA and member organizations. I got a front seat to learning the differences between all of those levels of communications. I understand them. It is the greatest piece of knowledge I took with me after leaving the internship. I also got hands on experience creating materials that needed to communicate on those levels.