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Not Your Average Internship

The pandemic was difficult for everyone, and I was crushed when COVID-19 canceled my 2020 summer internship with NCFA. So, when the opportunity for a 2021 summer internship presented itself, I was ecstatic. As my May start day approached, the internship unknowns felt daunting but exciting.

As the communications intern, I focused on legislative advocacy initiatives, research, and publications.

My responsibilities often involved creating, scheduling, and monitoring content for NCFA’s social media platforms. Outside of digital communications, I assisted with NCFA blogs and even getting the ball rolling for press releases.

I am a Public Policy major at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, so I loved the opportunity to meet with congressional staff members as NCFA lobbied for various legislation. The policy aspect expanded my understanding of both the United States’ congressional process as well as the collaboration and dedication within an organization that must occur to advance a bill in Congress.

I enjoyed tracking senator and representative outreach and celebrating new congressional sponsors for adoption-related bills. NCFA’s smaller staff size and the nature of the communications field allowed me to enter into and learn more about the research, education, and development programs of NCFA. I am thankful for the well-rounded internship experience that allowed me to gain exposure to the policymaking and procedural sides of adoption.

Early in my internship, Kristen Hamilton, Director of Strategic Initiatives and Communication invited me to participate in and observe a NCFA call with an African Delegation. The video conference, facilitated by Meridian International Center, allowed NCFA staff to outline and discuss ethical intercountry practices with representatives from eight African countries. Kristen also gave me the chance to share my brother’s adoption story and the positive impact it has had on my family. Being trusted to speak in front of international professionals speaks to how NCFA treats interns. I was never sidelined nor was I thrown into anything without direction. Kristen, along with all of NCFA’s staff, tasked me with meaningful work and trusted me to complete that work within the given instructions.

While a remote internship format was not my first choice, the experience allowed me to cultivate my adaptability and discipline skills. Without direct supervision, I quickly realized that I had to keep myself motivated and on task while managing my time effectively. My sense of responsibility expanded throughout the summer as I gained a clearer understanding of the professional world.

Although I am a North Carolina native, I lived in Colorado this summer which meant working east coast hours from the west coast. But the time difference never felt like a hardship or concern. There was not a day this summer that I woke up and did not look forward to starting work. My daily tasks engaged my problem-solving and communication skills in an exciting way. From the beginning, I was brought (and bought) into the vision of reconciling children into loving homes. My heart beats for adoption so it was easy for my heart to start beating for the work NCFA handed me.

But overall, the most formative aspect of NCFA has been the staff. I consistently felt encouraged and valuable. I realized that enjoying the day-to-day work is important but company culture is essential to the success, wellbeing, and retention of an organization. NCFAs operates smoothly and productively because of their shared set of values and goals coupled with positive attitudes among the staff. I loved how NCFA functions as a team -- collaborating with, supporting, and respecting one another.

On some level, I anticipated growing professionally this summer. But my experience with NCFA surpassed my expectations in terms of personal development. I was inspired by working for and with individuals who are in passionate pursuit of ensuring permanent, stable families for all children everywhere. I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to intern for NCFA and I encourage anyone who cares deeply about adoption - whether that be adoptive parents, birth mothers, or adopted individuals - to apply for an internship. My time with NCFA was invaluable - I cannot imagine spending this summer any other way.