A reflection on my last six months at Washington STEM
On the second day of my internship, I was asked if I wanted to attend the Zeno Math Institute, an event hosted by one of Washington STEM’s early STEM partners. It was all new to me and I didn’t know what to expect but I agreed to go and would later write a blog post about it. Looking back, Zeno Math was a great introduction to our partners here at Washington STEM.
When I entered the room full of educators, leaders, and parents, I realized that the work I was about to be a part of was bigger than me and required the collaboration of a community that is passionate about equity in STEM for underserved students.
I graduated last Spring with a degree in Journalism from the University of Washington, which means I am no stranger to writing. In fact, one of the very first things I told my manager is that I was tired of journalistic writing and wanted a communications internship to diversify my skills. However, I quickly learned that my role at Washington STEM would be steeped in writing- but not in the way that I’d imagined.
These past six months have challenged the writing skills that I have and pushed me to keep learning and growing as a communicator. I learned how to copy write for social media, how to keep a consistent tone throughout all brand messaging, and how to create and share meaningful engaging content. However, the best parts of my internship were the community events I was able to attend such as Charting Your Path to a Healthcare Career event where I witnessed more than 400 hundred high school students from across South King County meet and interact with professionals. But more importantly, students could see themselves in these healthcare professionals. It was refreshing to see students of color gain exposure to careers that they might not have otherwise known about. I was surrounded by like-minded leaders at the Washington STEM Summit and again at the Pierce County Apprenticeship Summit, where I really came to understand the importance of cross-sector collaboration in order to build sustainable pathways for students.
Our CEO, Angela Jones, said something that stuck with me at our last staff meeting. To paraphrase, our work is challenging because unlike Starbucks employees who have the satisfaction of seeing their customers taking their first sip of coffee each morning, we go home every day and may not see tangible results immediately. Moving a system towards equity means we have to be in it for the long haul, and that means our impact will take year to come to full fruition. The work that we do is a part of a large continuum and is so meaningful that it takes a passionate, hardworking, and patient team. That is who Washington STEM is and those were the people I got to work with every day.
If I had to summarize my time here at Washington STEM in one word, it’s exciting. It has been exciting to see the way our impact team gathers data and presents it in a way that is usable for different audiences. It’s been eye-opening to learn from the Program team about the importance of culturally relevant early STEM programs. It’s been inspiring to see how we can advocate for students on a systemic level through our policy team.
But most of all, it’s been rewarding to see that I can start making a difference and working for underserved communities so early into my career and I can’t wait to continue doing so in the next phase of my journey!