“Time flies,” that’s what I’ve been repeating for the past two weeks, as my time at the National League of Cities (NLC) slowly came to a close. It’s surprising that time can fly under such unprecedented circumstances, like surviving a global pandemic. But I’ll share a secret I learned this summer, time flies when you enjoy what you’re doing.  

That’s why it feels like the past eight weeks just flew by. During the course of the Fellowship, I did a lot of new things I’d never done before. And I mean a lot. One of my biggest challenges was putting together the strategic plan for NLC’s Constituency Groups Virtual Summit.  

During my first week at NLC, I helped Melissa, my supervisor, draft a couple of emails for a virtual event. Four weeks later, Melissa asked me if I wanted to take the lead on drafting the marketing and communications plan for the Virtual Summit. I did not hesitate to accept, but I didn’t realize how much work it would be. She sent me a copy of a previous event plan as a guide, and it suddenly felt like so much pressure.  

Of course, I got scared. It was a lot of responsibility! But what helped me pull through  and enjoy the process was something I’d never had before: a supportive working environment. Without Melissa and the rest of the team’s patience and encouragement, I would not have been able to enjoy the work as much as I did. I had to schedule, write, edit, test emails, and do social media outreach.  

I walked away from that project with more than just pride or fulfillment, I had learned an essential lesson. Planning is important in communications, but teamwork is crucial. I was really awed by NLC’s collaboration. I relied on my team as much as they relied on me. Despite being “just an intern” I  always felt like an integral part of the team.  

By being part of this event planning team, I also found myself navigating and learning about the cumbersome process of designing a website. Although I was not part of the design team, Karen, our visual design director, was kind enough to answer my questions  and accept my feedback.  

All in all, I ended up learning way more than  I expected, from writing blogs to helping organize a virtual event. I have also matured during these past eight weeks. I came into the program as a shy and nervous first-gen student, but I am leaving as a confident Fellow who understands the value in seeing challenges as opportunities.  

I’ll be honest, as someone who overthinks everything, reframing how I thought about challenges was not easy. But fortunately, both the Karel Fellowship and NLC provided a warm, friendly work environment/ community that contributed to my growth!  

It all starts by taking a leap of faith in yourself. My leap of faith was applying to the Karel Fellowship. Now, public interest communications is no longer an unknown field. As I learned about this field, I also learned about myself. I learned that I cannot lift others up if I’m feeling down. I learned to be open to new opportunities. And I learned that it’s okay to be nervous in front of the unexpected, but it’s not okay to walk away without trying.