Broadened Horizons: My Experience as a LIFT Intern
I have always considered myself to be an adventurous, vivacious individual. And this summer, I took that to an entirely new level. Alongside my good friend Rosie Arbittier, I decided to spontaneously move to D.C. for the summer. It’s important to keep in mind that I spent the last 9 months of my life studying abroad in Paris. Considering that returning to the U.S. was challenging enough, repacking my bags and moving to another city was quite the endeavor. I felt lost as I endlessly searched for a summer job, essentially drowning in applications and cover letters. Within all the madness, I found LIFT.
Though I had never envisioned myself working at a nonprofit, I knew that this opportunity would allow me to learn so much about the issues affecting low-income families across the country and the possible solutions for them. Beyond that, I had no expectations, and I went into it with an open mind, for I did not know much about LIFT or even what I would be doing. As soon as I stepped into the office, I was greeted with a big hug and a charming, handmade welcome sign. Following that, a long list of assignments. These two contrasting moments truly epitomize my internship at LIFT. I had never seen such a driven, collaborative team of goofy, fun individuals. And from that day forward, I knew I would love every minute of it.
Because I wasn’t placed on a specific team like the other interns, I had a unique position that allowed me to work on a variety of projects and interact with all of LIFT’s departments. Every day there was a new job to be done and even the simplest of tasks seemed exciting. This feeling of elation did not diminish as my time at LIFT continued. The work I was doing was actually meaningful, contrary to any other freshman-level internship.
To this day, I am amazed by the LIFT staff’s effortless charisma and humility. I always received boundless support and encouragement from everyone on the team, even from people with whom I didn’t work with directly. This variation of continuity is rare, and it is something that will stick with me as I continue on in my career. I have to say that it seems as though nonprofits have a reputation of being too soft and forgiving; however, the hard work and dedication I saw from each and every individual at LIFT was moving, for I knew a group like this would change the world.
Outside of my work at the national office, LIFT provided so many other learning opportunities, ranging from volunteering at community organizations to participating in educational webinars. Our trip to So Others May Eat (SOME), a local nonprofit that provides basic needs and services to the homeless and poor, resonated with me the most. As we toured the facility, I noticed small things, such as the pleasant music playing in the background and the fun decorations on the tables that seem so rudimentary to most people. Yet in this setting, I was deeply touched by their presence. It was so heartwarming to see the extra steps taken by the people at SOME to make the community members feel as welcome as possible. I had never seen such compassion before. Later that day when we were dripping with sweat working in the clothing warehouse, I took a moment and smiled, looking around at the dedicated LIFT and SOME volunteers around me. It was reassuring to know that in a world full of malice, people are dedicating their lives to fighting exactly that.
This moment, along with so many others at LIFT, lead me to reflect on my career path, considering occupations and fields that I had never thought about before. I participated in many LIFT & Learns as well, where I sat down with members of the team and heard their story. Every single one was inimitable and inspiring in a different way, for I learned that the most conventional path is not always the right one. I learned that picking one career path and sticking to it till you have dentures is not actually how the world works. And most importantly, I learned to always pursue what you think is right, despite what others may say. My six weeks at LIFT have exceeded all of my expectations, and I am so grateful to have been part of such a powerful movement.
This blog post was written by Mackenzie Swartz, a student at George Washington University and a summer 2017 intern at LIFT.
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