This winter I had the opportunity to intern with the Oral History in the Liberal Arts Initiative (OHLA) and work with Brooke Bryan on her project. I had really wanted to go back to Washington, D.C. where I had my last co-op but, when presented the opportunity, OHLA seemed to be the best choice and I’m very glad I took the opportunity. I could work remotely, stay close to friends and loved ones, and did not have to move across the country again.
Interning with OHLA has given me a new breadth of knowledge in the realm of oral history and my intended career path in journalism. OHLA has a wide range of tutorials available that helped me gain knowledge of tools that could make transcribing or uploading and archiving interviews a breeze.
My day-to-day responsibilities as the Digital Archives Coordinator at OHLA involve maintaining the project’s social media accounts and helping with the needs of the website and student projects, but I was also required to learn and make tutorials for programs at a moment’s notice. OHLA is an exhilarating exercise in staying on one’s toes, but I thrive off of being given tasks to complete on short notice so that worked out for me.
When I started my position with OHLA, I was completely oblivious as to what oral history is or how it pertains to a liberal arts education. I learned very quickly that oral history isn’t just one specific subset of historical analysis, but almost any spoken or transcribed conversation between people. If I reminisce about my younger years with a friend of mine, record that conversation, and then transcribe it, that could be considered oral history. So could asking a group of strangers on the street what they had for lunch today. If I gained one thing from my time at OHLA, it’s a whole new understanding of oral history.
This newfound understanding of oral history has helped me not only in this internship but also in my intended career path of journalism. The knowledge and tools available in oral history have given me a new awareness of how to effectively transcribe and archive interviews, as well as incorporate interesting user-friendly aids into stories to keep readers interested.
Overall, my experience with OHLA let me stay close to home while granting me access to information that I had no idea existed before.
Photo credit: http://brookeblackmon.com
For my first co-op term, I chose to do a self-designed co-op at the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce in Washington, D.C. The focus of NGLCC is to get small LGBTQ+ owned businesses (LGBT Business Enterprises, LGBTBE’s for short) certified with NGLCC, opening the door for opportunities with larger corporations down the line. During my time with them I’ve learned a ton about the interminglings of the organization and about the dynamic between my co-workers, the LGBTBE’s we represent, and the corporations that partner with us. Some of our partners include Altria, a tobacco lobbying firm, Boeing, the NBA, the MLB, and almost any big bank you can name. As a corporate partner, corporations get constant press from NGLCC and also get stickers and banners to put on their web page and office space letting everyone know how LGBT-friendly they are. Any corporation has to have a 50 percent or greater Corporate Equality Index score from the Human Rights Campaign, a yearly score published to reflect a corporations policies, donations, and other factors pertaining to equality within their workplace and their suppliers. This is then evaluated and scored.
As far as the work I do is concerned, it’s kind of the seen but not heard work. I alter and update spreadsheets for meetings, write up proposals, find new services for us to use, update online resources, and do some work that keeps the organization organized and up to date. As the Corporate Relations and Supplier Diversity Intern, the two departments of Corporate Relations and Supplier Diversity often have the same information in different places or the same spreadsheets but one isn’t as updated as the other, so my job is mainly to coordinate those sheets and make sure everyone is on the same page. It seems minimal sometimes, but occasionally one of my supervisors will tell me that I’m making their lives easier and that I’m doing good work, so that makes me proud.
Overall, my co-op has been extremely helpful as I have learned much about myself, my interests, my abilities, and my drive.