National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Waltham, MA
For my summer internship, I worked at the National Multiple Sclerosis Society as a Development Intern. The MS Society had never had a remote intern before, so I was interested to see how my projects and day-to-day responsibilities would change from an in-person internship. I focused primarily on helping the development team prepare for the Challenge Walk MS: Cape Cod event in the fall. Challenge Walk is a multi-day, endurance walking event where the participants walk 50 miles in three days. There is a lot of preparation and planning that goes into these events—coordinating teams, prizes, programming, decorations and fundraising—and that is when the event is in-person. Much more work was needed this summer, as the MS Society prepared for their events to go virtual in the fall. This required collaborative problem-solving and thinking outside the box to figure out how to incorporate aspects of the in-person event into a virtual setting. Never before has the organization tried to recreate an event into a virtual one, especially in this short amount of time.
To start every week, I had a video call with my supervisor to go over my task list and how each of my projects fit in the virtual event. After our video call, I would primarily communicate with her over email with any additional questions I had. Although it was definitely hard to adjust communicating with a supervisor in this way, she was able to help me with any questions I had and we were able to bounce ideas off of each other in a more informal way. Even though I had not met any of my supervisors in person, I learned to adapt to the remote environment and still converse with my coworkers while building connections with them.
For many of my projects and tasks, I was asked to look into ways on how to use virtual tools in the best way for our specific event. In one instance, I was tasked with researching how to recreate letters of encouragement, that are distributed to each participant at the in-person event, into the virtual setting. I gathered information on different tools such as Kudoboard and many different e-card businesses. I also learned how to reach out to possible donors and communicate with them in order to maximize the mask and hand sanitizer donations for our future events in the 2021 event season. We looked towards other non-profits and multi-day events that turned virtual and tried to adopt the strategies they used to ensure participant engagement and fundraising. I was also tasked with posting on social media and sending out emails to update our participants as well as give tips on how to continue to fundraise.
This internship has been such an amazing and rewarding experience. I was so grateful and honored to be a part of such a wonderful organization that helps people living with MS get the resources they need as well as raise money and awareness to end MS forever.