JFS Perspectives

Thursday, July 27, 2017

A Grateful Reflection on My Summer Internship at Jewish Family Service



A Grateful Reflection on My Summer Internship at Jewish Family Service

Celebrate JFS tastingDespite all I’d heard about what interns do, I didn’t go on any coffee runs during my time as a Jewish Family Service (JFS) intern. Instead, I went on photoshoots and learned how to capture the excitement between Colorado Senior Connections members passionately discussing the program over lattés. I happily accompanied coworkers to catering tastings for our Celebrate JFS event rather than ever being asked to go pick up everyone’s lunch. I never was directed to monotonously organize files for the office, but I did spend a rewarding afternoon organizing fruits and vegetables at the JFS Weinberg Food Pantry with volunteers to help feed the Denver community.

Edenne and Shelley at staff partyMy expectations of what the internship would be like were created by a movie with Meryl Streep and by the horror stories related to me by friends about bosses at internships who led with superiority complexes. Probably the most important contrast point between my expectations and the reality of working for JFS: I never (not even once) felt like I wasn’t valuable to this incredible and influential organization. JFS, its employees, and countless volunteers welcomed me with open arms, just like they do with every single person who walks through those doors or signs up for a program. JFS works hard to help those in the community who are typically overlooked, including its interns, who, generally would be expected to get coffee, organize files, and listen and learn instead of being encouraged to always speak up about things for which they are passionate.

Edenne with marketing and development team

I spent my summer working as an intern in the Marketing and Development department closely interacting with my department’s incredible team members. This team included Erica Cruz, JFS’s development database manager and my cubicle mate who somehow made our work with the database fun and interesting; John Kayser, our innovative and funny marketing and communications director who taught me how to work the camera on photoshoots and gave me insight into the world of web design; Kari Mikulski, the office’s awesome graphic designer who saved me from having to awkwardly stand by myself during JFS events and showed me that it takes lots of hard work to create mail pieces; Alaina Green, the associate director of marketing and communications who was the first adult I’ve met that has a better understanding of social media than most of my friends and who constantly was working to better connect the organization; Lisa Benoit, the development associate who not only taught me that networking makes the world go round but also inspired me to chase whatever my dreams might be with chutzpah and with love; and last, but as all of Denver knows, certainly not least, Dawn Richard, JFS’s gem of a development director and the main reason I originally came to work for the organization. During my summer at JFS I watched in awe as she rallied the community every day through meetings and phone calls with warmth and brightness. Dawn taught me the ultimate lesson that hard work is worth the struggle if you are working for a cause in which you believe.

I could go on about my extraordinary department, but the true triumph of Jewish Family Service is that my team is one of many teams working tirelessly for programs which help the Denver and Boulder communities. JFS alone is its own community of ardent, intelligent individuals, but the community within this office building grows and strives to solve problems alongside the greater community of Colorado which it supports. JFS embodies its own value of Tikkun Olam, the obligation to make the world a better place, by existing as a beautiful strong world within the greater community which it is constantly trying to better and to support.

I spent my summer as an intern working with the unsung heroes of Denver. In hindsight they probably deserved my delivering of coffee and making copies, but instead they took the time to teach me life lessons and give me the confidence to actually believe I could help in a variety of ways to make the world a better place.

Edenne GrossBy Edenne Gross
CEIP Hillel Intern

 

 



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