1. Introduction to the report
Students are required to participate in activities that help them gain first-hand experience of the many facets of academic work and practice as part of the Master’s Degree studies in English – Speaking Cultures and the completion of a compulsory elective module (Academic Work Experience 2). When a more extended activity, such as an internship, is undertaken to meet the module’s requirements, the student submits a report to the institute at the end of the training as part of the module’s graded assessment.
The intern did a six-month internship (March 15 to September 15, 2021) at European Activism Incubator. The European Activism Incubator was established in April 2018 as a non-profit organization in the form of an association (ASBL: association sans but lucratif). In addition to the board members, trainers, executives, and operations, the organization has two departments—the Communications and Fundraising Department. The organization assigned the intern to the department of communications. The primary responsibility was to support the communications team in achieving the department’s objectives. The responsibilities include developing the organization’s communications for social media channels, website blogs, and video interviews, developing resources to support changemakers through research and article drafting, organizing training and workshops, and other administrative tasks. The intern kick-started the internship with an onboarding conducted by the organization’s senior team lead and communications team lead. The onboarding gave insights into the organization’s corporate culture and the kind of communication content the organization expects. The organization ensures to share an ever-green and 360 communication content, which means the communications team develops suitable content across all communication platforms and target audiences.
This is a report on the intern’s motivation for doing the internship and how it relates to her academic program, the intern’s chosen organization’s profile, the intern’s duties and schedules in the organization, the intern’s contributions to the organization, the intern’s application of theories to real-life situations, various lessons learned by the intern, challenges faced, and conclusions.
2. Motivation for the internship engagement
The intern opted to acquire an internship with a European company to complete the Academic Work Experience Module 2 (AWE 2) criteria of the English-Speaking Cultures program, allowing her to gain some work experience relevant to the study program and her future professional ambition. In addition, she wanted an experience that would teach her about discipline and European work values. The intern started an internship search at the end of 2020 on erasmusintern.org, focusing on language and philological experiences. She was motivated to apply for the communications trainee position advertised by European Activism Incubator due to the skills and advantages the internship promised to offer by the end of the experience, previous professional experience that fit the role description, and present academic engagements. Her experience as an executive assistant showed organizational skills as required for the internship position. At the same time, her previous work experience as a business development officer proved negotiation, research, and writing abilities for the internship since she was involved in activities such as researching target customers and writing proposals. A background in Linguistics was one of the top considerations for the placement, which was also the case for her admission into the English-Speaking Cultures study program. The focus of the study program, which is to give specific training in advanced communication ranging over independent research, presentation, and negotiation skills, showed her to have adequate abilities to function in the internship role and the proper background to receive the further training the internship promised to offer after completing the internship. By the end of the training, she had gained competencies in the assigned aims of the AWE2 module. These competencies include the following:
- enhanced academic writing abilities,
- first-hand expertise in research, reviewing and editing,
- professionalized presentation skills,
- professional organization and network skills,
- knowledge of a non-profit organization’s structure and regular operations.
3. Summary of the organization
The European Activism Incubator is a Brussels-based non-profit organization located at Rue Xavier de Bue 10, 1180 Brüssel. They pursue the values of social justice and inclusion, equality and equity, liberation and empowerment, ecology and sustainability. The Incubator’s approach is to stay cross-cutting and inventive. They aim to identify effective ways to enable positive change by weaving together practices from many sectors and bringing commercial and non-profit thinking closer together. The European Activism Incubator (EAI) is now operating in the following areas, following its mission:
- Projects and Incubation: launching and testing non-profit and for-profit impact projects.
- Training, mentoring, and support: EAI provides training and expertise to support impact projects, organizations, and businesses in areas such as strategy, organizational development and innovation, funding and fundraising, capacity and movement building, activism, and campaigning.
- Campaigning: The EAI develop, launch and run awareness-raising campaigns to spark change and inspire dialogue on meaningful topics.
- Research: EAI sees change-making as an art and a skill. Their work is based on systems thinking, and they see power as a living organism emergent from interconnected structures. They seek to discover ways of driving change effectively by understanding this inner circuitry. They experiment with change-making through small-scale projects that combine non-profit, business, political, cultural, and entrepreneurial approaches. Their analysis serves as a tool to develop and deepen theories of change and experiment with driving change methods.
4. Overview of the internship experience
During the internship period, the intern was assigned to the Communications Departments of the European Activism Incubator. The communications department is responsible for internal corporate communications, the media, public relations, and public affairs of the organization. The responsibilities include: creating a relevant weekly content calendar to manage the organization’s website and social media accounts, post regular social media updates, execute promotions, interact with users on social media, explore cross-promotion and advertising opportunities, prepare communication materials, such as online video interviews and graphic designs and maintain communication tools. The intern’s core obligation was to assist the communications team-lead with accomplishing the department’s goals, as listed above. The organization assigned the following duties and responsibilities to the intern: drafting content that communicates the organization’s mission, co-organizing online events, managing social media platforms (Linkedin, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook), and researching and writing articles for website blogs.
It was the duty of the intern to come up with ideas for the organization’s communication content either independently or with the team. The proposals that result from critical thinking processes are made into different communication modes that suit different audiences across the various social platforms that the intern manages. The guideline term used in content creation was ‘360 comms and ever-green.’ That is, communication content can cut across most social platforms and stay relevant for years.
All of the responsibilities that the organization assigned to the intern typically engaged her in writing, researching, analyzing, condensing and synthesizing, creative storytelling, image design, and video editing. Adapting existing skills from her studies was essential to complete each task efficiently. Some of the guidelines the intern adopted when writing an article or short text was to incorporate an elevator pitch or argument in the introduction, tell the importance of the write-up, and bring the reader to a conclusion.
4.1.1 News digest
At the beginning of the internship, the intern considered this task as the most challenging as it required her to seek opinions of top news on several news media, comprehend bulk information and break it down into smaller bits of information that are either conclusive or actionable. The intern makes these news digests using the design tool called Canva. She chooses a cover image that summarizes the theme of the digest and condenses the rest of the information in a bullet point design format—the intern mainly designs the news digest to fit the Instagram and Facebook platforms. The intern had a bi-weekly target for the news digest.
See appendix b for one of the news digests the intern made.
4.1.2 Films and books review
The intern sourced films and books that would meet the interest of changemakers. She watched the movies or read the books and prepared a review in a design using Canva. The communications’ content calendar scheduled a book review once every two months and a monthly film review.
4.1.3 Online interviews with changemakers
Due to the goals of EAI, the audiences that are interested in the communications of the organization are young changemakers, impact leaders, non-profit organizations, GenZ impact makers, and activists. The idea with the online interview with changemakers is for the intern to find these changemakers, reach out to them, and request a conversation she holds on a live streaming platform. One of the missions of EAI is to support and equip changemakers. This interview is a form of support to changemakers as it tells their change-making stories and inspires viewers to take action towards this area of change-making. The online interview task was to develop the intern’s ability to prepare constructive and relevant questions in line with a professional conversation, online or public speaking skills, and form networks with changemakers. When a changemaker agrees to an interview, the intern designs an announcement flyer to post across the managed social media pages and arranges a prep talk with the interviewee. On the interview day, the intern goes live on Instagram or YouTube (using stream yard) with the changemaker to have a conversation. The intern allows the changemaker to give the viewers background into their projects before asking other relevant stimulating questions. After the interview, the intern makes the conversation a resource by saving the video to the organization’s social account for people to view at a convenient time or write a summary of the interview as a blog post. An example of the kind of interview the intern went after was a conversation with Maria-Beatrice Giovarnardi- the women’s rights activist who successfully changed the Oxford University Press dictionaries’ humiliating definition of “woman.” The intern worked with another intern in the organization to edit the article about this story.
The intern practiced content recycling as she also was responsible for promoting the resources and content that she created. Amongst other resources that she publicized, the saved online interview video is an example of a resource the intern had to promote. She promoted the interviews by picking out quotes from the conversation, putting the quote in a design format, and referring back to the live interview when sharing this quote. The intern also came up with video content in the form of what Instagram calls a reel to promote an article and other resources. In some cases, the intern took a short extract from existing video resources. Other times, she became creative with storytelling and recorded herself.
4.1.5 We Love, Good News concept and Inspirational Quotes
The We Love content is a celebration of changemakers discovered by the intern. She makes a 1080px by 1080px one-page design with the changemaker’s picture and the name of their change-making project for highlight. The Good News is also 1080px by 1080px that highlights a positive impact story. This task was also mini research for the intern as she had to look out for small but trending changemakers and their activities and search a pool of 90 percent negative news (according to quora) to find positive impact news.
4.1.6 Power phrase campaign
One of the thriving topics of the impact sector is the topic of gender justice. The European Activism Incubator has a keen interest in women empowerment, feminism, and the fight for gender equality. As part of the support to this area of interest, they organized the power phrase campaign to enable women to overcome gender preconceptions and inspire men to do the same. The campaign raises awareness about the linguistic part of gender stereotypes, unjustifiable microaggressions that women face regularly, and the power of language in influencing norms. The Power phrase campaign also urges everyone to challenge gender bias in their speaking patterns, inspire empowering linguistic choices, and promote positive adjectives that highlight women’s extraordinary contributions in all aspects of life. In this campaign, the intern’s role was to share her power phrase, collect data on people’s power phrases, share the story behind the power phrase, and make the power phrase into a meme if they are unwilling to share their picture.
In one of the weekly reflections that the intern submitted to her internship supervisor, she highlighted the relevance of the campaign and other activities to the courses she has undertaken in her study program, especially Feminism, Fashion, and Film, Use of English in the professional world and Multimodality. The power phrase campaign task was one of the opportunities for the intern to have first-hand experience with gathering linguistic data.
See fig 1.2 in the appendix for a power phrase meme example, the intern’s power phrase, and the accompanying text written by the intern.
4.1.6 Article writing
Part of the intern’s duty was to write articles suitable for a change-making audience. The intern’s most successful article published on the organization’s website is a grant guide for women empowerment projects. She researched grants opportunities for women empowerment projects worldwide, condensed several options with their requirements and actionable steps. In the intern also promoting the article, the oldest international women’s fund – Mama Cash, discovered the article and shared it across their social media pages as they found it resourceful. The intern’s last piece to be published after her placement was an introductory article on a newly launched campaign, ‘Depleted Joy in the Impact Sector,’ birthed from one of the online change-making interviews she conducted.
5. Everything Fun and Living in Brussels
One thing that also stood out for the intern when selecting the host organization was the opportunity to network with interns at her level, seniors partners of the organization, and external affiliations of the organization. One month after the intern started, the host organization had an online event supported by European Youth Forum and Citizens Europe titled ‘ROADMAP TO RESILIENCE: NGO FUNDRAISING IN POST-COVID19 RECOVERY.’ The program itinerary included network time which was the first opportunity for the intern to network with members of the organization’s sector. Over three hundred people registered, and around two hundred people were in attendance. The organization allowed interns to organize outside work hours socials for bonding purposes and an opportunity to experience international socialization outside the workspace. Drink evenings and weekend trips that the intern could participate in were her favorites. The intern had a native French speaker who was also an intern that supported her in her interest to learn French and introduced her to other French natives. Accommodation at a family house was the best offer the intern could get. She felt well integrated into the culture as she was in the basic unit of the internship community.
6. Conclusion and Appreciation
The intern’s priority in the internship period was to prepare contents that kept the organization’s social platforms active daily and attract people’s attention to the organization’s mission as a non-profit. In carrying out these activities, the intern applied and developed valuable skills for people in the communication career field. She also developed a more profound interest in developing her career in global communication. Knowing that she has the skills required for roles in communication specialization, the intern’s confidence to seek job placement in the field has grown. I wish to thank the management and Staff of European Activism Incubator for accepting my internship application amidst other applicants and their commitment to my professional growth, care, and support during my stay. Special thanks to ERASMUS for the mobility funds I received, which unburdened some financial responsibilities, to Angela Schuette, whose encouragement to send a follow-up mail to the host organization about my internship application led to an interview, to my friends, family, and relatives who always reached out to me and motivated me during the internship period. It was indeed a valuable and memorable experience.
All images are from the European Activism Incubator’s social media pages. The intern had access to the resources as one of the managers of the organization’s social medial platforms.
In the four-slide movie review post, the first slide has the reviewer’s face showing a movie cover, and the other slides summarize the movie and argue why it is an essential watch. In the post’s caption, the intern gives a brief description of the accompanying image (review design in the slides) and ties the review to another resource for its promotion.