Gibely joined Project Citizenship in September 2014 as a Cristo Rey corporate work study student. She interned with Project Citizenship throughout the year. Project Citizenship is very grateful for Gibely’s assistance copying, collating, running errands and assisting with whatever was needed.
My time at Project Citizenship was both informative and thoroughly enjoyable. When I started working there in September 2014, I stepped into the organizational process for one of the most important events of the year – Citizenship Day! My co-workers were incredibly friendly and welcomed me to the team, preparing me for one of the busiest weeks of the season while simultaneously orienting me to life at a non-profit. I was able to take my high school Spanish skills out of the vault in my brain where they had been stored, and put them to good use screening people from Boston and surrounding areas for Citizenship Day. Though I was slightly apprehensive at first, I came to enjoy conversing with applicants who were eager to apply and grateful for any help I could give them.
Citizenship Day was possibly the highlight of my time at Project Citizenship: the sheer number of applicants we were able to help was incredible, and I felt like the organizing, screening, and scanning had absolutely paid off. I applied the skills I learned at this workshop to the rest of our events throughout the year, and I also enjoyed traveling to partner organizations to help with screening even more applicants!
Working with Project Citizenship was educational, gratifying, and helped me build a skill set that I know I can use for the rest of my life, regardless of where my career path takes me. I am grateful that I had the opportunity to learn about the legal side of the citizenship process and assist people with an application that can be incredibly beneficial, but difficult to complete.
Intern Guest Post (Originally posted to Boston College Career Edge)
Like many undergrads, I’ve spent the last few years of college debating my future. I started my freshman year with the hopes of becoming a neurologist, and have considered everything from speechwriting to music production. Yet, throughout my college career, there has been one significant constant: immigration. I’ve been very confident about my interest in the field, but I’ve always been indecisive as to how I should approach it. This summer, I was able to put my interest to the test.
Project Citizenship is a nonprofit organization located in downtown Boston. It was created by the Fish Family Foundation and its goal is to help legal permanent residents become naturalized citizens. Project Citizenship largely does this through “Citizenship Workshops,” in which staff and volunteers help applicants fill out the appropriate forms for naturalization. The organization also refers applicants to civics classes, ESOL classes, and legal representation as needed.
If I had to pick one word to describe my experience with Project Citizenship, it would be fulfilling. While I put in as much time and effort as I could, the organization gave back to me just as much, if not more. There were many responsibilities required of me:
-Maintaining our social media pages
-Updating our website
-Working on our monthly newsletter
-Studying Google Analytics
-Reaching out to businesses for volunteer raffle donations
-Communicating with prospective applicants
-Participating in meetings, ranging from staff to reps from the Mayor of Boston’s office Reorganizing our applicant database (yes, I can now do excel sheets in my sleep)
Finally, I was able to work on my Spanish (for which my Colombian family is very thankful) and participate in Citizenship Workshops. This was perhaps the most rewarding part of my experience. At workshops I was able to interact with immigrants themselves and make a direct, positive impact on their journey to naturalization. I learned about their unique stories and truly got to witness how thankful they are to have Project Citizenship as a community resource.
In return, Project Citizenship was highly supportive of me as an individual. I really can’t stress this enough. Not only was everyone kind and respectful, but every single member of the office was open to my questions, opinions, and more than ready to impart words of wisdom. Project Citizenship made sure that I soaked up as much quality information as possible (giving me access to online webinars and professional training workshops), and they were very accommodating with my schedule so that I could complete my summer classes. My fellow interns were also amazing co-workers. Our intern room was far and away the best part of the office, and you probably could’ve heard us laughing and joking from a mile away.
Overall, I feel incredibly lucky that I got to be a part of Project Citizenship. They managed to dodge the usual internship stereotypes and I learned valuable lessons about the nonprofit world, immigration, citizenship, and Boston in general. More importantly, not once did I get tired of immigration this summer. I look forward to staying involved with Project Citizenship, participating in their Citizenship Day this fall, and I’m certain now, more than ever, that immigration is where I belong.
Thank you to Professor Peter Skerry for introducing me to Project Citizenship. Thank you to Project Citizenship and the Fish Family Foundation for providing me with so much opportunity and advice. Last, but not least, thank you to the Boston College Career Center for awarding me with this stipend, which made it more possible for me to spend my first summer in Boston.