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As a social impact intern, you’ll be tasked with learning a broad array of skills. You’ll also figure out how to balance competing priorities and rapidly switch between industry and advocacy contexts. My practice area works for organizations and non-profits locally and globally – working to improve health, the economy, the environment—in a nutshell, improve people’s lives in a multitude of ways.

My “typical” day begins with a review of news articles related to two subjects important to clients of mine: digital financial inclusion and global sanitation. This leads me to draft short summaries on exciting developments like the opening of a new human-waste-processing plant outside of Bengaluru, India, or the announcement that Kenyan mobile e-payment apps will soon be interoperable (think: being able to send money from your Venmo account to your friend’s Zelle account).

I draft summaries like these every morning, and at the end of the week I use them to create media synopses for our clients to have as a handy reference for the latest news in their lines of advocacy.

This is where the “routine” part of my job ends.

The rest of the day could bring anything: a time-sensitive synthesis of an article fresh off the press, or an hour spent analyzing events a client is interested in attending. It’s not always easy, but it’s never boring. In our office, every day is different, exciting and impact-driven.

Deep-dive
By noon, I am deep in the middle of conducting research for a new business project related to health systems in Washington State. Opportunities like this, where we try to win clients by pitching big creative ideas, tend to span a few weeks at most. And the first step in the process is gaining a comprehensive understanding about the client and their industry or field of advocacy.

In this case, my team needs to understand the competitive field of healthcare providers in Washington. So I spend some time comparing different services marketed by different hospitals, as well as how they talk about their work with patients and employees. My discoveries and insights will not only help my team better understand our client, but may also influence our strategy and creative process.

Quick turn
At 3 p.m., my manager calls on me to support with a unique request. A client of ours will be meeting with an elected official from an African nation – and needs background on short notice.  I conduct some quick desk research and do a media scan to understand more about this leader’s point of view on a variety of issues, and draft a short backgrounder. The best part: this country has a woman Vice President.

Six Months Later
When I started my internship with the Health & Social Impact team, I knew very little about public relations and communications work, let alone the public and private sector debates surrounding sanitation systems or healthcare services. Months down the road, as a Junior Associate, I know my way around a media brief, can analyze and pull stories out of a financial inclusion database, and revel in helping nonprofits and advocacy groups talk about their work.

Best of all, I learn something new each day and am always driven by the missions of our clients to bridge gaps, reach out and make change.

About

Emlyn Foxen is a Junior Associate (previously an intern) with Weber Shandwick’s Health & Social Impact team, where she supports a broad array of nonprofit, health, and social justice advocacy clients. She studied Politics and Gender & Women’s Studies at Pomona College, and has a background in nonprofit administration, public policy research, and education.

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