There is only one thing better than a summer intern… two! This summer the DreamTeam welcomed La’Treil Allen and Summer Nguyen as Education Interns. Entering the DreamWakers community amidst a pandemic made this year’s remote summer experience a complex one, but by embodying creativity, adaptation, and flexibility, Summer and La’Treil created worthwhile summer experiences — and lots of fun along the way.
Each intern brought unique talents to the DreamTeam. Summer is a rising junior at the University of Michigan studying Information Science at the School of Information. She has an interest in information ethics and design practices that lent well to her work with social media planning and graphics. La’Treil is a rising junior at Cornell University studying Government and English. His interest in writing poems and short stories proved to be a great asset in crafting summer blog posts. Both their talents were put to use in many distinct ways this summer!
As their tenure at DreamWakers concludes, Summer and La’Treil shared their own perspectives on the remote internship experience:
At the beginning of my internship, I didn’t know what projects I wanted to take on. Besides helping manage social channels for DreamWakers, I knew I wanted to take on another bigger, more ambitious project. It wasn’t until I was talking about making graphics with Erinn, a Program Associate, that I took interest in making a style guide for DreamWakers.
That idea grew very, very quickly. Shortly after my chat with Erinn, I connected with Jillian, DreamWakers’ Executive Director, to talk through the project and establish deadlines. To officially get the project started, I was given the time and space to lead a meeting where I walked through my ideas, received team feedback, and presented our peer organizations’ styles. I was surprised at how much my efforts were valued even though I was just an intern, but in reality, no one on the team viewed me that way — they saw me as a strong asset to the team.
From there on out, there was a lot of independent work. Researching design and typography principles, sketching various layouts of the style guide, finding the right colors and fonts, learning more about the organization’s personality… the list doesn’t end there. Thankfully, I wasn’t alone — my peers always made time to talk through my ideas with me and support me in any way possible throughout the project.
Never would I have imagined that during this internship, I would get to pursue a project of this scale that would have a long-lasting impact on the organization. Without the support, encouragement, and help of the DreamTeam, the project couldn’t have been as strong as it is now. I can’t emphasize enough how much this project — and, more accurately, everybody on the DW team — has helped me grow both professionally and personally. Thank you to Jillian, Erinn, Celete, and La’Treil for the best internship experience I could’ve asked for!
To say that my experience with DreamWakers has been transformational would be an understatement. I have learned invaluable lessons that I will carry with me forever. My summer included a variety of tasks from planning our fall fundraiser to facilitating flashchats. One ongoing project that taught me a lot was working on our blog posts.
During my tenure I got to work on three of our summer blog posts: A Deep Dive into NOAA, Money Matters: Tips on Navigating It, and Learning Doesn’t Stop at the Classroom. Through writing these blog posts I obtained three important lessons.
The first is that writing doesn’t have to be a solo activity. All my writing prior to my internship consisted of essays and stories in my journals. Working on the blogs showed just how collaborative writing is and how much input from others can take your writing to a new level. The second lesson is that words hold a lot of power. The language we use can bring people in or alienate them, and sitting down with the DreamTeam to discuss the language we use helped me recognize just how much work I have to do to use more inclusive language. The third lesson was that I am a pretty good writer. I say this only because as a first-generation college student I am often in rooms with students whose educational training surpasses mine. Due to this, I often feel intimidated and often discouraged to share my work. However, this summer I was surrounded by a team that made sure to remind me I am talented. Even when my writing was not the best, they were there with constructive criticism to help me past the finish line.
By their own accounts, the internship experience for Summer and La’Treil was nothing short of spectacular. In their respective projects, both interns took away career and life lessons that will stick with them every step of the way. Even though they are leaving the DreamTeam after three short months, their impact on DreamWakers will last long after they return to college classrooms. One day, we all hope to meet — not over a video chat, but right at DreamWakers HQ! Until then, Summer and La’Treil say thank you to everybody who has made this experience what it is, and farewell for now. After all, it’s not “goodbye,” it’s “see you soon!”
Written by Summer Nguyen and La’Treil Allen, DreamWakers Education Interns