I’m sitting in front of my laptop like I have been for the past four weeks since the virtual Karel Fellowship began. I have to write a blog, but instead, tears are rolling down my cheeks. Let me explain why…

As I paused to reflect on the past weeks, I was reminded of how far I’ve come. Growing up, I was a shy but tenacious little girl who wandered around her amado Peru. I thought I had it all planned out, but life proved me wrong, taught me hard lessons, and dampened my dreams. I never thought the same little girl, years later, would become a Karel Fellow and intern at the National League of Cities (NLC)!

Despite the excitement of becoming a Karel Fellow, I also felt very nervous and apprehensive. Not only was interning at NLC going to be my first professional experience, but I was also entering an unknown field: public interest communications (PIC). Let’s add to that, the working remotely experience.

Thankfully, my journey as a Karel Fellow started with a three-day virtual boot camp, where I meticulously took notes to soak up as much knowledge and tips as possible. I learned the basics of PIC, from the importance of a concise and persuasive message to the valuable work of graphic design. The boot camp helped me feel much more confident to work at NLC.

The National League of Cities is a nonpartisan organization that works closely with local leaders across the US. Its mission is to strengthen local leadership, influence federal policy, and drive innovative solutions. One of my roles at NLC has been to support the Digital, Engagement, Marketing, and Communications (DEMC) team with various communications projects. Two of these projects were to write blogs about the impact COVID-19 has had on various cities, using stories NLC had collected from local leaders.

When Melissa, my supervisor, asked me to write these pieces, the tenacious girl in me smiled and went for the challenge. Writing for an organization is different to writing a college essay or a journal. You have to consider a different and broad audience, as well as the style and voice of the organization you are representing. In other words, it can be overwhelming. Fortunately, working remotely didn’t prevent me from feeling Melissa’s encouragement and support throughout the process of writing, editing and publishing the blogs.

Looking back on these four weeks, I’ve realized I didn’t have to worry too much. Although working virtually is challenging because it’s difficult to meaningfully interact with people online, my supervisors and team have shown a level of support that I’ve yet to encounter in another job. They trust me to take the lead on various communications projects and value my input and perspective.

I can only compare my experience these past four weeks to a phrase my mom says “raíces para crecer y alas para volar” – “roots to grow and wings to fly.” The Karel Fellowship gave me the roots through the boot camp and workshops to be prepared for my internship. The National League of Cities is giving me wings to strengthen my professional skills by letting me run different projects.

Being a virtual Karel Fellow at NLC has been, without a doubt, a learning experience I will never forget, and there’s still four weeks left to go!