I can’t believe it’s already been eight weeks. The girl who joined the Frank Karel Fellowship program and the National League of Cities (NLC) eight weeks ago is not the same one that is writing this blog right now. Eight weeks ago, the imposter syndrome was killing me alive. I did not have a background in public interest communications and I was scared to start my internship at NLC. Thankfully, the communications boot camp provided me with the necessary tools and prepared me for the work. 

On the first day of my internship, I was anxious and excited to virtually meet the members of the team that I was joining: the Digital Engagement Marketing and Communications (DEMC) team. The DEMC team was very welcoming and made me feel that I was part of the team even though I was only going to be there for a few weeks. From them, I learned the importance of teamwork. Having a good relationship with other coworkers can speed up the approval process of social media content. Once you know your supervisor’s or teammates’ styles, likes, and way of work, you will be able to create good quality content that will be approved faster. They also taught me that what you major in does not determine your future because you can always change your path. Rather, it is important to discover yourself and find something that you are passionate about. Passion is not only the fuel for advocacy-related work but also for everything you put your mind to. At NLC, passion is what keeps every single team going through the grueling process of assisting in getting legislation passed and working with organizations and people whose ideas and points of view differ from their own. Most importantly, I learned that change is possible at the local level with the right leaders, resources, and support from awesome organizations like NLC. 

During my time at NLC, I was exposed to the economic and social disparities that are affecting millions of Americans. COVID-19 has only highlighted these issues of inequality, and I wanted to use my voice to make a change. This summer, I learned that there are ways to address the issues of inequality at the city level. Local and state governments have the power to influence what resources and opportunities are available to citizens in their communities, which can set them up for success. During this critical period in our country’s history, all levels of the American government structure play a key role in ensuring an equitable recovery. The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) is not only providing much-needed relief for local communities but also giving city leaders the opportunity to reimagine and rebuild their communities better and stronger. Because of this, I worked closely with the Institute for Youth, Education and Families (YEF) to assist cities to properly and strategically allocate ARPA money to the right communities and resources. 

As a volunteer tutor working with young kids, I was excited to be working with the YEF team in developing an article that highlighted the importance of a partnership between local and state governments to leverage ARPA funding to maximize the efficiency of investments, and in that way, set our youngest residents and their families up for success. The majority of my young students often do not receive help at home because most of their parents are frequently not present in the earliest months and years of their children’s lives. However, they do not have to do it alone because local leaders can help them. Cities across the country can team up to support early childhood success and create more opportunities for local children and families to thrive.

This summer was a summer where I said “I’ve never done this before” so many times, but I have had a very supportive team for which I am grateful. NLC and the Frank Karel Fellowship program gave me the opportunity to immerse myself in the public interest communications field — a field that is no longer unfamiliar to me. Storytelling and communications, in general, are powerful and can drive lasting social change. The internship may be over but I will continue to use my voice and advocate for the causes that I believe in.