Social Change Intern Experience

Metropolitan Group knows how valuable an exceptional internship can be. That’s why we’ve crafted an intentional internship experience focused on personal and professional growth. We pair each intern with two mentors and a supervisor to guide them through their internship. During their experience with us, they practice skills such as project management, design and social listening, to name a few. MG is a compassionate environment that encourages interns to be creative and follow their interests to produce their best work.

To apply for our 2020 Social Change Internship, please visit our open positions here.

Read more from interviews with our Summer 2019 interns below.

What was the application and interview process like to become a Social Change Intern?

Tanner: I saw the application for the Social Change Internship on Idealist.org, a website listing jobs and nonprofits in the social impact space. After applying and being selected for the second round, I had to complete a research brief (something we do quite often here at MG). I asked a lot of clarifying questions before I submitted the brief. After submitting, I was selected for the final round: the interview process. I did an online interview using Zoom with three interviewers. I had a lot of fun with my interview and really got the sense that the people who worked at MG were very fun, unique and driven people.

Tynan: I applied in late April off the recommendation of my D.C. colleague. He was impressed by how focused MG was on social change. It was easy researching their website for summaries of past projects and getting a precise grip on their mission. During the application process, the MG staff were extremely receptive to my questions and generally wanted all the applicants to succeed. Working on a research brief in order to apply gave me a genuine look at the work I was going to be doing before actually doing it. Seeing all the enthusiastic faces in my interview confirmed MG’s positive, collaborative, curious work culture.

SummerI was able to interview with MG through the Emerging Leaders Internship Program (a program that connects students of color to internships in a normally white-dominated Portland workforce). Originally MG had wanted me to interview in person, but they were super flexible and let me interview over video, which spoke a lot to me because they were willing to take those extra steps to make sure I still had the same opportunities that everyone else did. For the whole interview, I had never felt alienated but more on the lines of comfortable as if I was talking to an old friend. Overall, the interview and the interviewers made me feel comfortable to be myself and show my talents without having to do any code switching.

 

What kind of things have you worked on as a Social Change Intern?

Tanner: I’ve done a lot of copywriting (something I had never done before coming to MG), primarily for social media. That’s been really interesting, as well as working with such a large variety of clients across our focus areas. I’ve worked on things for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Oregon Health Authority, the World Resource Institute’s Global Commission on Adaptation, and I’ve done a lot of research on federal agencies for new business development—so just an amazing breadth of work for an incoming college senior to be doing.

Tynan: I’ve been involved in a wide array of work while at MG, signifying the breadth of involvement in social justice. I developed online posts for social movements like a piece on a trans activist’s center in Stonewall and #BlueForSudan, brainstormed and collaborated with partners on the World Resources Institute’s Global Commission on Adaptation, surveyed media for tone and progress on lead poisoning for the Green & Healthy Homes Initiative, and researched positioning for leaders such as Ducks Unlimited and the National Academy of Medicine.

SummerAs a graphic designer and motion graphics artist, I got to work with clients such as Oregon Health Association, the San Jose government, the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the Oregon Nikkei Endowment. I was recently assigned to make five GIFs based off of World Resources Institute mission pillars for their newest social media campaign #AdaptNow. I also got to make/edit a couple of decks under the supervision of my mentors for NASA JPL and the Oregon Nikkei Endowment.

 

Who are your mentors? What sorts of advice have they given you?

Tanner: My mentors are Tovar Cerulli (senior director) and Kirsten Gunst (senior associate). The two have provided great advice on how to present myself professionally and how to excel in my future career. Tovar is actually a successful author and has a Ph.D., so he’s had a lot of fantastic advice about writing and academia should I choose to pursue grad school. Kirsten has worked at MG for about 12 years. She’s given me a lot of great advice about speaking up and getting your foot in the door in a work environment and beyond. But even beyond the two of them, I think that everyone here at MG has served as a mentor in some shape or form.

Tynan: My mentors are Shakirah Hill (digital director) and Rob Sassor (D.C. lead), who are constant inspirations. Beyond all of the amazing, personalized advice and tips they’ve given me, such as establishing healthy systems for productivity and success, their actions are where their leadership really shines. They center their work around a culture of collaboration, encouragement and health, and produce quality work by demonstrating stellar work qualities and through supporting their teams on a personal level. The extraordinary work environment that they both produce is unlike any I’ve seen before.

Summer:  My mentors are Sean Garrison (art director) and Corinne Nakamura-Rybak (vice president of Visual Communications). At the beginning of the internship, Sean and Corinne had asked me what I wanted to learn/gain from my time at MG, and I mentioned typography and building my portfolio. Immediately Sean and Corinne put me on a bunch of design projects that challenged me in all aspects creatively. Both Sean and Corinne have also given me multiple design lessons and software support whenever I had any questions or when I was struggling with a design.

 

How has being a Social Change intern challenged you to grow?

Tanner: Being an intern at MG has certainly taught better time management skills. Dabbling in project management revealed to me how effective it can be to plan ahead and set aside time for how long you think a given task within a project will take you. My internship has also taught me how to communicate better and work with others in meetings and other group contexts, setting aside your personal investment in a project in order to do the best work. I’ve also learned from MG that good business can actually be good activism, something I had previously been skeptical of.

Tynan: The biggest challenge at MG is learning and prioritizing how to utilize the resources available to you to improve your contributions, which is a continual process. Whether it’s lunch-and-learns to better inform yourself about an issue, tech conversations to improve digital proficiency, mindful moments to ensure space for creativity, cultures of health and wellness to establish and maintain self-care, or constructive feedback from peers to greater polish your work, MG is chock full of opportunities to refine and grow on almost any area of professional development. And there the challenge lies, taking advantage of it all.

SummerFor me, one of the biggest challenges that I faced at MG was learning how to manage my time and that it was OK to say no to opportunities. I used to take every opportunity I could and eventually burn myself out like some vicious cycle, but in my time at MG, I learned the importance of blocking time out for work while also being able to ask for help. I wouldn’t have been able to do it without the countless support and kindness of the MG staff.

 

How would you describe MG’s workplace culture? What sort of relationships and/or connections have you made here?

Tanner: I made some really good, intergenerational friendships in my time at MG. I ended up spending some time outside of work with fellow MGers because I enjoyed being around them and wanted to get to know them better outside of a work environment. The people at MG will set aside time to genuinely get to know you and your work style, personality and interests, regardless of how busy they are. 

Tynan: The D.C. office is a place of wonder. So much collaboration happens in the creative kitchen between the carbonator and the Scrabble board and the fruit basket. Laughs and jubilee abound in the midst of revolutionary communications work. Serious conversations about the impact of social movements both outside and inside the office fulfill our time here.

SummerIn my past internships you were expected to show up and do your work in a timely matter; there was never any room to socialize because it just didn’t seem cost efficient. With my time here at MG, I have gotten to know my co-workers not just as co-workers but also as a support system. Everyone at MG always makes sure to greet each other as soon as they see each other and asks the simple yet meaningful question, “How are you?” Everyone here is deeply passionate about doing social change through their respective talents, and it shows in how they come to work every day.

 

Would you recommend the Social Change internship to others? If so, why?

Tanner: Yes! This is such a versatile internship, it can truly be whatever you want to make out of it. The people at MG are so creative, forward-thinking and kind, and they treat interns with the same respect as regular employees. I’d highly recommend it.

Tynan: Enthusiastically and invariably. Your heart, soul and mind have been waiting to thrive at Metropolitan Group. MG is a place of welcome, celebration and progress; come experience it for yourself.

SummerWholeheartedly yes. Metropolitan Group treats me not just as an intern but as an employee—my opinions are heard and taken into account for projects and the designs. At Metropolitan Group, they’re interested in not just giving you work experience but also helping you build connections/friends. Whenever I struggled on a project, it was never seen as a failure but an opportunity to get back up and learn. With my time ending at Metropolitan Group eventually I know that the skills I learned at this internship will prove valuable in my future endeavors.