Sunday, August 12, 2012

Takeaways from my internship

Advice for work:

1. At the beginning of the summer, make sure you set up the metrics of your internship with your supervisor. In other words, make sure you know what qualities will make you a good intern in the eyes of your boss. This will also help you think about the end product of the internship: what you get out of it, what you deliver to the company, and what standards work for you.

Important questions to ask include:
  • What are the deliverables? What are some tangible things I will bring to the table at the end of the summer? For me, these would include a written strategic and operational plan, research on potential grant makers, and a letter of inquiry for several local banks.
  • What is expected of me? This includes expectations for how quickly you turn in assignments, how you should approach asking for more responsibilities, and the expectations for coming into the office. I had really flexible hours and would often show up pretty late. My boss didn't say anything about it until the very last week, but by then it was already too late to change. 
  • What am I being measured against? How do I exceed the legacies of past interns? What do I need to do so that you consider me a successful intern at the end of the summer? 
2. Don't leave the office without asking your co-workers if there is anything you can help them out with. My boss actually praised me about on this during the mid-internship review. 

3. Ask to learn the skills you want to gain. If you don't know what skills you want to gain, ask to learn the most marketable skills. That ways, you at least leave with something desirable. If you're at a nonprofit and don't know what skill you want to gain, ask to learn about development. Development is generally the fundraising side. I've learned that I don't care for development. However, knowing how to write successful grant proposals is a highly desirable skill. The program side of a nonprofit is also a good place to start.

4. Ask for a mid-internship review and an exit interview.

5. Write a personal mission statement. This is a good exercise to figure out what you want to purpose of your internship to be. Also, it's a chance to ask yourself, what must be true in order for me to be happy at this internship? Then, make sure those factors which are critical to your happiness exist at your internship.

6. Make sure your organization is ready for your arrival. For example, I didn't get a key until the last two weeks of my internship, so I almost never knew when I was coming in; it always depended on who was in the office that day. They ordered a key two weeks after I arrived and the order was lost, so it took even longer than usual to get me the key. Some places really will forget to prepare certain things for the intern. I should have asked about the key situation in the email I sent them a week before the internship started.

What I learned:

I found that working at my particular nonprofit was a nice ease into the the working lifestyle because my hours were flexible and my deadlines were nebulous. However, I also didn't find the work particularly challenging. I was doing a lot of research that I felt like anyone could do. I also didn't feel like the work I did actually impacted the organization. I liked working on the strategic and operational plan because it would really shape the organization, but I couldn't see the impact as much when I researched potential funders. One thing my boss suggested I work on during the mid-internship review was seeing how the smaller projects I worked on fit in the 'big picture'. However, I often found that difficult to do, especially with the really small projects I was assigned. I suppose that's why I need to work on it more. I will not return to the nonprofit sector in the near future.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

What I do for fun

This is specific to Los Angeles.

I'm so used to watching good comedy that's it's weird to see somebody bomb on stage. I don't normally go to a lot of stand-up comedy shows in Kansas or Boston, but I've gone to a lot in Los Angeles. It started as an accident actually. The building next to my crossfit gym happened to be the Downtown Independent, a movie theater that hosts weekly free stand-up comedy shows. I kept hearing the name, so when I saw an event that piqued my interest, I finally visited the venue. The comedy show they host is called Holy Fuck Comedy. 

Here are three stand-up comedy venues that you simply must visit if you're into comedy:

1. Largo at the Coronet

Bo Burnham performed here last month! I didn't go to any shows, but clearly good people perform here.

2. Laugh Factory

Sarah Silverman will be doing a show here this month with a few other comedians. Too bad I'll already be out of town when she performs.

3. Holy Fuck Free Comedy 

Tuesdays at 9pm at the Downtown Independent. It's a weekly comedy show. And did I mention that's it's totally fucking free? 

4. Meltdown Comics

The Meltdown is hosted at Meltdown Comics on Sunset. I actually just got back from it tonight. David Spade dropped by, which was awesome. He was really scruffy and self-depreciating, his humbleness making his set extra fun to listen to. 

Here are three improv venues you simply must visit, period:

1. IO West

I took classes here! The bummer is that their mainstage is 21+ because it has an open bar, but sometimes the bouncer will let you in through the back if you say you're a student and just there for the show. Or if the bouncer is not checking ID's really closely. Aside from the Mainstage, there's the Del Close theater and the Loft, but the Mainstage has generally funnier acts. 

2. Groundlings

The all improv shows are at 8pm on Wed and Thurs nights. Wednesday is more long form improv. It starts off with three suggestions, each of them spawning three scenes. After the initial three scenes, new scenes are created through tag-outs. Thursday is all short form improv. Games and lots of audience suggestions create the scenes in this show. Personally, I love short form improv, so I really enjoy the Thursday show. 

3. UCB

I’ve gone to the OKCupid show, ASSSSCAT, some improv experiment form with famous plays, and DC Pierson’s stand-up night.

© Yuqi Hou
Maira Gall