Lily Paltrowitz

It was Monday, June 28, 2021, more specifically, day one of the Teen JUST-US internship, even more specifically, the first day at my individual organization, Community Action Works.  My friends, family, and pretty much anybody who has ever been in my presence, knows how anxious and nervous I am, and the way that self-doubt often consumes me.  So naturally, at 7:00 am on June 28, I was in what I like to call “full panic mode.”  I spent the hours before 9:00 am pacing around my house, re-evaluating the outfit I was wearing for the millionth time, stress cleaning my kitchen.  Unfortunately, the list does go on.

When I tell you I had zero work experience, I had ZERO work experience.  The most professional environment I had ever been in was school.  Personally, when I am gearing up to face new challenges, I like to be prepared.  I like to know what’s in front of me, and the tools and strategies I will need to succeed.  But I had absolutely no idea what to expect on my first day at Community Action Works.  During my first meeting, I nervously scribbled all I could on my notebook hoping to grasp every last detail my supervisor communicated.  By the end of the day, I felt completely out of my element, and expecting failure.  And as a new intern online, I felt isolated and alone.

But when Wednesday rolled around and I was with 16 other kids who were also new summer interns with little to no working experience, I realized I wasn’t alone.  I had a group of peers going through it alongside me.  We were able to take comfort in our shared anxiety and truly be there for each other even though we had just met that very day.  I was able to confide and be vulnerable to the cohort about how I was feeling and raise questions and concerns.  Words truly can’t describe how comforting it was to have a support system like that.  One that allowed me to be vulnerable, authentic, and real.  By the end of the day, I felt reassured and gained the confidence I needed to give this internship my best effort.

And looking back at the six weeks, I was able to do just that.  With the encouragement of the Teen JUST-US cohort, I was able to succeed at Community Action Works.  I gained the ability to support my internship site in multiple different realms of work: donor cultivation, media, administration, fundraising, zero waste campaigns, etc.  And at times, when I was having a rough day, was tired, or just lacking confidence, I had the Teen JUST-US cohort as my support network, my home base.

Lily Paltrowitz
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