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    Posted June 24, 2013 by
    Arlington, Virginia
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    What was your best internship?

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    Changemaking from 9-5

    My summer with Ashoka has been an exercise in understanding, empowerment and responsibility. The first week at Ashoka is dedicated to grasping the complex goals and mechanisms of the organization. One of Ashoka’s core beliefs is that understanding the bigger picture is the best path to meaningful success on a smaller scale. This mantra means that interns with seemingly specialized positions – I, for example, am a marketing and communications intern – get a chance to truly explore the wide scope of possibilities at Ashoka and beyond. Ashoka combines the incredible opportunities available internally with talks and meetings with other organizations and remarkable individuals, creating a well-rounded yet personalized internship experience.
    An organization which stresses empowerment for all, Ashoka makes sure to practice what it preaches when it comes to the interns. All interns are given a wealth of opportunities to become involved with various projects and finishing your work efficiently doesn’t mean a heap of new busywork, but rather choosing to either cut out early for the day or dive into a new venture of your choice. Though I’m normally a bit of a minimalist, the incredible appeal of Ashoka’s work leads me to nearly always choose the latter. Ashoka’s “Dashboard” is a Google Doc Excel sheet which regularly lists twenty to thirty current projects for which interns can sign up at any time. Each project is described by the applicable skillsets, approximate time commitment, the project’s overarching goal, and most importantly what supervisors believe the interns will learn from this project, whether through mere exposure or through active teaching of a new skill. The ability to choose projects which I find both interesting and challenging has made my experience at Ashoka truly meaningful.
    Even the busywork at Ashoka, which is quite minimal, takes on a surprising significance. After preparing a presentation suggesting a new giving campaign at Ashoka, I recognized that this campaign could be much more effective given better information about our donors. My first experience with data entry at Ashoka came not because I was a lowly intern, but because I understood the greater importance of good data and asked my supervisor for the opportunity to improve Ashoka’s information. At Ashoka interns are given serious responsibilities because we understand Ashoka’s mission and how to craft projects which fit into its fabric.
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