A Freshman's Internship Through the DCSI
My name is Love Tsai and I am a rising sophomore at Dartmouth ('23). My freshman summer, I am working at a nonprofit in San Francisco, learning about the realm of real estate, art, and social change in the Bay Area. Because of the coronavirus, I am completing my work remotely, but it still has been such a blast so far. I got this internship through Dartmouth Center for Social Impact's Cohort Internship program, which I highly recommend incoming freshmen to check out if you're interested in social impact work. Spots usually go to rising sophomores or rising seniors and in a typical year, you can expect to live in SF, Boston, or Philadelphia, living with other Dartmouth students completing different internships in the same city for around 10 weeks.
What does my average day look like? I start working on my projects around 11AM EST. My long-term projects are mostly research projects gathering data for the nonprofit to work from for their future endeavors. I stop working on my own projects around 5PM EST. My work schedule is a little weird because of my internship being on the West Coast. Throughout the week, I have various meetings at different times—on Thursday, for example, I have a meeting from 6-8PM EST. On Wednesday, I attend a meeting from 5-6PM. In total, I make myself available to my colleagues and managers from 11AM - 8PM, although I am typically not expected to work that late. If you are doing an internship in the future, you will most likely work normal hours (this specific situation is just because I am in EST and my nonprofit is on the West Coast).
My long-term projects are researching average rent prices across SF and Oakland, as well as putting together a database of founding sources for artists. I also do many smaller tasks, such as calling Wi-Fi companies, going through operating budgets, and proofreading reports. The best part of my internship has definitely been meeting all the people and getting to learn about a new part of the world that I haven't ever encountered before. Everyone who works at CAST is incredibly driven, dedicated, and talented at what they do.
The most challenging part has been all the meetings—I discovered very quickly that I do not like meetings in general, but a lot of the daily operations surrounding business, real estate, and nonprofits not involved in direct service are meetings. I'm very glad to have found this out about myself this early in the process! It gives me a lot of direction and clarity into the type of job I would like to have after graduation—task-oriented, people-oriented, and fast-paced.
The DCSI program also pairs each intern with an alumni mentor through the DPCS. The pairing happens through shared interests, backgrounds, or career goals. I've met with my mentor three times now, and we plan on meeting every other week through the end of my internship. Before my meeting, I brainstorm some questions that I have for her surrounding my internship, my career, and even my time at Dartmouth. Being able to hear another person's insight has been very helpful! I often have a lot of things swirling around in my brain that I need clarification on, and this mentorship has been invaluable for me in being able to get a first-impression perspective as well as the perspective that comes with a deeper relationship.
All in all, I am really enjoying my time so far. The work is challenging and thought-provoking, and I have met so many people and encountered so many industries that I had never even heard of before this summer. Even the things that I don't enjoy as much, such as the meetings or staring at a screen all day, have been useful for me to figure out where my priorities lie and how I can make sure that my future, lifelong career is one that doesn't include these things. I encourage everyone, particularly incoming freshmen, to hop onto the DCSI, Rocky, or Dickey websites to learn about possible internship opportunities!