MCAH was fortunate to have two amazing interns assist with our election work during the 2020 fall semester. As we look back on a difficult year of remote work, we’re honored to have Haley and Cate share their reflections on a most unique internship.
HALEY ALLGEYER, SENIOR PUBLIC POLICY INTERN
I worked as the Senior Public Policy Intern for Michigan Coalition Against Homelessness beginning in January 2020. I’m currently a senior at Michigan State University finishing up my two bachelor’s degrees in Anthropology and Political Science. When I was hired as an intern in January, I had a severe lack of knowledge of the nonprofit public policy world. After spending a couple weeks researching and educating myself, I was able to prepare myself to jump into the work. With the help of the guidance of my boss, Laurel Burchfield, and the entire MCAH team welcoming me, I learned much more than I anticipated in this past year.
The COVID-19 pandemic forced us to work from home, which the whole office has done since March. We had to cancel events and move some to virtual webinars, and had to engage with most of our coworkers and outside partners through Zoom calls. The transition to working from home came at a time of great uncertainty about many things in the world, but I was grateful that the MCAH team was able to make the transition as easy as possible.
The 2020 election came quicker than we imagined, as COVID-19 had distracted a lot of our time. When I was hired in January, my time with MCAH was supposed to end with the Spring semester in May. But I was rehired and excited to be able to engage in election work through MCAH. We mainly worked on candidate engagement and voter registration and education for the election. We were able to understand more about the knowledge of candidates and election officials on homelessness and housing related issues. We also developed educational materials for the voter registration process and built up partnerships with many agencies and organizations to engage in this work.
After the election, it was important to recognize that despite the great things we accomplished with voter registration and education, our work is never over. We got started on our post-election work beginning on Nov 4! In order to determine the overall impact of our voter education and registration work, I conducted interviews with all of our sponsored sites. I found that many of the efforts were successful, despite the limitations of COVID-19. Sites were able to register many individuals experiencing homelessness to vote, and empowered so many people to learn more about the voting process and politics as a whole.
Working at MCAH for this past year has helped me grow both personally and professionally. Learning to work in an office environment, then from a home office environment was a great opportunity for me to understand the professional world even more. I was able to have creative freedom in thinking through ideas and implementing them into our work, which helped me further understand and evaluate many of my professional goals. This was an overwhelmingly fulfilling experience and I am so thankful for the entire MCAH team for it.
CATE NOVAK, PUBLIC POLICY INTERN
I began working at MCAH in September 2020 as a remote Public Policy Intern. Collaboration and creativity were two of the biggest components of my internship this semester, and are my greatest takeaways from working with such an amazing organization. Each project we completed was not the responsibility of just one person, but a product of the entire team working together. We each came up with ideas, listened to others, and provided helpful advice.
One of the most innovative projects we worked on was the Tweetstorm, where the goal was to work with a variety of advocates around Michigan to encourage candidates to fill out the MCAH questionnaire and voice their knowledge on housing issues. Together, we worked on designing graphics, creating action plans, and executing the event. It took a couple of weeks to plan, and it was so rewarding to be able to collaborate to reach a common goal.
Overall, I loved working with a team where every member’s opinions were valued, and where we all shared the same passion for helping others. Each project we completed was a result of original ideas and teamwork, and we accomplished so much even with adjusting to a virtual environment. I will always treasure my time at MCAH, and am grateful for the opportunity to have worked with such an intelligent and talented team.
WANT TO INTERN WITH MCAH IN 2021?
We’re currently looking for interns to work with MCAH in our communications, fund development, and public policy work. These unpaid internship opportunities are available to current Michigan-based students or recent graduates. To learn more and see if you’d be a good fit, contact Laurel Burchfield, MCAH Associate Director, at firstname.lastname@example.org.