Mapping Inequality in the City

By Emme Weisenfeld, FCLC 2023

Poster from a citywide anti-obesity media campaign

Briskly walking along 125th St during a 105º heat wave surveying New York residents on their occupations, health, and quality of life was, frankly, not how I originally expected to spend my summer. Burning heat aside, my time as a Research Data intern at MAPSCorps, in association with Mount Sinai’s Adolescent Health Center, proved to be an incredibly formative experience. The guidance and encounters I had with staff and peers alike greatly helped to determine the attributes I want to work into my future work and volunteer experiences, as well as redefine my views on the foundation and complexities of what gives New York City its identity. My primary role as a Field Coordinator (FC) at the MAPSCorps summer program was to lead students of New York’s Summer Youth program through a series of tasks that would, ideally, prepare them for a potential future career in public health or related sciences. The students were exposed to various virtual modules highlighting the criticality of high quality data collection, participated in excursions to the South Bronx and East Harlem to collect in-person business and survey data, and, as a capstone of sorts, produced an end-of-summer research video on New York City’s health data to be presented (virtually) to a panel in MAPSCorps’ headquarters of Chicago. Throughout their learning experience, my fellow FC interns and I supervised and challenged the students to expand their knowledge of public health disparities and their understanding of New York as a whole. 

This summer, the MAPSCorps team in New York’s research was focused on addressing the link between lower socioeconomic status and higher obesity prevalence within the communities of the South Bronx and East Harlem. In order to collect the data needed to address the proposed link, FCs, such as myself, led the mappers through virtual and in-person mapping; this work required using previously documented information (such as store names, hours, etc. on Google), as well as phone calls (virtual) and conversations with business owners (in-person) to verify the status and accessibility of businesses within our determined communities. As someone who has faced quite a bit of anxiety speaking on the phone with individuals I’m not familiar with, I found the process to be quite difficult at first, especially considering I was leading and teaching 10 mappers on how to do the same. Luckily, hour after hour of calling individuals to ask about their businesses quickly turned the act into a familiarity; I grew to be quite comfortable asking about the stores’ experiences during the pandemic, how they address the needs of their community, and what they’ve noticed about their primary consumer base from a health perspective.

From all of the responses I received, I began to conceptualize New York in a much broader light, experiencing it as a city filled with deeply complex issues based in the city’s complicated history and current wealth, social, and racial inequalities. Though I had previously been exposed to New York’s history and the many challenges it faces in many of Fordham’s courses, being in the field gave me an entirely new perspective. Having the opportunity to ask (often uncomfortable and revealing) questions, particularly in communities I hadn’t previously been exposed to, heavily reconstructed my vision of the city I’ve known for 21 years.

My time with MAPSCorps and Mount Sinai’s Adolescent Health Center was an experience that taught me how to be more outspoken in both the academic and work setting. I gained a new sense of confidence and pride, particularly when it came to teaching data and health curriculum to the youth mappers and advising them in their mapping endeavors. Interactions and conversations with my peers, mappers, and advisors at Mount Sinai have ultimately challenged me to view the communities I interact with through a much broader, inquisitive mindset.

Interning with mPrints Creations

By Adah Unachukwu, FCLC 2023

Logo designs that Adah proposed for the app

During the winter break, I was extremely focused on finding an internship. In addition to applying for internships on Handshake and other job sites, I also gave my resume to my friends and family so that they could pass it along to their friends who worked in relevant fields and industries. My aunt has a friend, Maggie, who owns a branding company. She made websites, logos and increased the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for brands. At the time, I was searching for brands that had a focus on social media where I could learn how to present a brand on social media. I met with Maggie, and we had an informal interview where we discussed what we wanted to get out of this internship. Payment was discussed, which made me very uncomfortable, but I soon learned the importance of advocating for yourself. The interview went very well, and I became an intern for Maggie during my spring semester.

My job description was to aid her in the research for an app that she wanted to launch. I was to sketch up a rudimentary business plan for the app as well. Because I was so interested in seeing how businesses manage their social media, Maggie also taught me a lot about what goes into building a business persona on social media. By the end of the internship, I was focused on the physical parts of branding such as the logo and on building a customer profile. 

Because this was my first internship, there was a lot of trial and error. Depending on what I was working on, I could make as many as five or six versions that would be carefully edited and critiqued. I never thought of myself as someone who could take criticism well, but working under Maggie really helped me appreciate constructive criticism. I also learned a lot about time management and how to lead a healthy work-life balance. Since the internship was remote, I had to figure out how to get my work done in a timely manner without the actual physical presence of my boss. I was also required to fill out a timesheet where I had to specify the exact projects I was working on during my hours. This forced me to be mindful of my time efficiency and I applied the same logic to my school work as well. 

All things considered, I really enjoyed this internship. I developed important skills which carried over into my current job, and I learned to have a lot of faith in my own skills. Although the remote aspect was ideal with my school schedule, I wish that I could have worked on a larger team and bounced ideas off a few more people. Although I enjoyed this internship, I will say that working with family members or close friends is very tricky. I doubt if in the future I would choose to work with family again. This internship was definitely interesting and I’m excited to work in social media even more!

Working at the Cannes Film Festival

By Sophia Henderson, FCLC 2023

Sophia Henderson and other interns at the Cannes Film Festival

The Cannes Film Festival is a two-week festival in the south of France, showcasing a multitude of breathtaking films both new and old. It is a frontier for new filmmakers to make their mark in the film landscape and an opportunity to see classic and restored films in a completely new form. I participated in the Cannes Film Festival this May–and no, I wasn’t debuting a film…yet. I interned at this prestigious festival through the American Pavillion and I gained great insight into the film industry. From May 17th to May 28th, I spent my time working at important industry events, meeting directors, actors, and everything in between. Most excitingly, I was able to be among the first to see some of the newest films. 

I arrived in Nice, France on May 15th and enjoyed the beautiful scenery on my ride to Cannes. During my first two days, I had the opportunity to settle into my temporary way of living and dust off my French skills. I explored the festival grounds with the other interns and became accustomed to my surroundings. The festival grounds were astounding, with theaters that looked like a film enthusiast’s dream, a row of tents called “The International Village,” and a big screen on the beach for Cinéma de la Plage. I was ecstatic to head straight into this internship. I worked daily in the International Village at the American Pavilion’s Tent. Within the International Village were tents for each country, which acted as a home base for films and filmmakers coming from all over the world. The American Pavilion provided a space for industry professionals to relax between film showings. It also acted as a space to network with many people having meetings or events. My job was catering to their VIP members and ensuring they had everything they needed while they were at the Pavilion. Luckily, that allowed me to talk to many industry professionals, who were thrilled to give me advice about building my career in the industry. Over the festival’s two weeks, I spoke with producers, directors, actors, agents, and even festival chairs. It was an eye-opening experience that allowed me to reevaluate my career goals (I even had to reevaluate where I may live as many of them told me that I would be successful in LA). In addition, I had the opportunity to attend many industry events, some run by Kodak, Deadline, and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. Sitting down and gaining real insight into what life and success look like in the film industry provided me with knowledge and skills to translate into my professional life. It was an experience that allowed me to think about the industry in a tangible way. 

Thankfully, the two weeks weren’t all about work. I connected with other interns to see some films, including two red carpets. There were so many films to see, and despite an overloaded ticketing website server, I managed to catch six films. Some of these films you’ll maybe never hear about, such as The Dam (dir. Ali Cherri), and some might be one of the summer’s biggest films like Elvis (dir. Baz Luhrmann). Seeing these films was amazing, and watching filmmakers talk about their films and their message/purpose made the experience more memorable. My favorite film was War Pony (dir. Riley Keough & Gina Gammel). It is a fictional story that details the experiences of two young men on the Pine Ridge Reservation. The creators carefully crafted this story with people on the reservation. They made a very realistic and relatable film that created a space for the Native Lakota people on the international film platform. This one film alone made me laugh, cry, and enter deep thought, and it’s still not available to the general public. The chance to see films pioneering the way for filmmakers of color on a global scale was honestly transformative. Also, walking the red carpet with Tom Hanks and Austin Butler (and yes, Shakira) was totally awesome. Surprisingly, those weren’t the only stars I got the chance to be in the same room with and meet. Jamie Foxx, Woody Harrelson, and Letitia Wright are just some celebrities who stopped by the Pavilion to talk with the interns. It was so cool just to be able to hear them talk about their experiences in their films and the industry. Lastly, of all the fun activities, exploring Cannes was definitely one of the best. The opportunity to just explore the town during its busiest point of the year and walk past all the events or watch a red carpet premiere made the experience that much more enchanting.

The Cannes Film Festival will be an opportunity that I will never forget and has taught me so much about the industry as a whole. I made some great connections in France, and I can’t wait to bring them with me into my career.

An Internship Abroad

By Natalia Zabala, FCLC 2023

Slide from a presentation on Colombia, showing Colombian flag

When I arrived at my study abroad program in Strasbourg, I learned of the community-based internships opportunity offered by my program. Due to my interest in language learning, the internship advisor Ms. Hardenberg found me an internship where I could use my knowledge of French, Spanish and English to help in the learning environment. I agreed to work at the Université Populaire Européenne for two courses, an English class on Wednesday mornings at nine o’clock and a Spanish class on Friday mornings at nine o’clock. The director of the university and my supervisor, Madame Barrière, also asked if I could help with some administrative work. 

I started with the administrative work right away. After a few meetings with Madame Barrière, she outlined my project: to draw up a diagnostic report on the @upestrasbourg Facebook page and on the website to assess electronic accessibility and the effectiveness of virtual engagement. She asked me to prepare the report for a meeting with her and other university administrators. Even with my experience presenting in front of crowds, I was nervous about presenting in French, especially on such a specific topic like virtual engagement. I prepared notes based on my research on how other universities created virtual student engagement as well as my own limited experience. When it came time for the presentation, I was extremely anxious as I stared at the Zoom link. All of a sudden, the meeting started and I started introducing myself and answering questions; I did not have time to be anxious because I had to pay attention to other administrators’ comments on the report. It was the first time after arriving in France that I spoke without thinking at every moment about exactly what I was saying. I was more fluent than I realized!

The English course was taught by Scottish teacher Madame Wagner. In each class, I brought my American perspective and accent to our discussions of topics like the healthcare system. During discussions, Ms. Wagner split the class into two groups to talk, and she sat with one group and I sat with the other to facilitate their discussions. In March, she gave me the opportunity to teach a class, and I chose to present on Mexican cuisine in the United States. I created a visual presentation and corresponding worksheet to lead the conversation, but I found that the questions from the students guided the presentation more than the notes or the work I had prepared. I received positive feedback at the conclusion of the presentation from the students and Mrs. Wagner, who asked if she could use the materials I had prepared for future classes.

 The Spanish class was totally different. All the students in Madame Rodriguez’s course were of a higher level and very lively. The students had a lot of questions about why I speak Spanish and my knowledge of and connections to the Latin American world. Every lesson was an opportunity to speak with the students because they were always eager to converse with me. I thus brought my knowledge of the language as much as my knowledge of culture to this course. Despite my competence in speaking, writing, and reading Spanish (because it is my mother tongue), I had never taken a Spanish class before, so the grammar was difficult even for me! I learned a lot with the students, such as how to use the subjunctive, something that I always did without thinking. I gave my presentation for this course on my very last day in Strasbourg about my home country of Colombia, and the students were excited to hear about the culture and the specificities of the language.         

Overall, my internship was an amazing and positive experience. Every day I learned something important about my knowledge of French, Spanish, and even English. I am grateful to Madame Hardenberg and Madame Barrière for the opportunity, and to Madame Wagner and Madame Rodriguez for welcoming me into their classrooms.

Learning the Ropes at the State Department

By Alyssa Macaluso, FCLC 2023

On a sunny Friday afternoon, I wrapped up my 12-week-long internship with the U.S. Mission to the United Nations in a flurry of emails, thank-yous, and promises to keep in touch. It was a semester unlike any other, in part due to our return to fully in-person classes after two and a half semesters online. But it was also the first semester during which I essentially balanced a full-time job on top of school, my extracurricular activities, and my social life. 

I wasn’t nervous about the challenge of waking up at 5 a.m. every morning, working until the early afternoon, and then going to classes and club meetings. Nor was I apprehensive about the work I was doing, the gravity of it, or the consequences should I mess anything up terribly. For me, the discipline of working on a different schedule than the rest of my roommates and friends, was the most difficult part of the semester. 

I am a night owl, through and through. I work best between the hours of 2 and 4 a.m., when no one else is awake except for the other New Yorkers who also thrive in the dark and quiet. This semester, however, I couldn’t justify staying up that late to work on an essay or finish an assignment: The bulk of my work took place between 5:30 and 11 a.m. It almost felt like a betrayal to turn of the lights and will myself to sleep at 11:30 p.m., the earliest to bed in my suite, because I knew that if I stayed up any later, I wouldn’t be able to work at my best the next day  — and I am proud to say that I never pulled an all-nighter. If this semester taught me anything, it’s how to maintain a schedule that may, at first, seem incompatible with the rest of my life. 

Apart from working on time management, learning how to work within a team embedded in a very firm hierarchy was another hurdle I had to overcome this semester. In college, usually you work in teams of peers, all of whom are more or less equal in age, experience, and authority. For my team at State, however, there were clear leads and no ambiguity about where everyone belonged on the ladder. This really surprised me because we worked so intimately as a group. Every morning at 8:45 a.m., we’d log onto a call together to figure out assignments and recap the week’s events. Throughout the day, we’d email one another for help or advice or to flag memos. At times, it felt like there was no rigid structure in place, even though the roll call each morning reminded members where they ranked. This may be more a revelation about working in a setting where people of many different backgrounds — especially ages and experience — engage, but working with my team at State certainly provided insight into what it was like to navigate such a structure while also not losing sight of the camaraderie.  

One last insight I gained from this internship was networking. As interns, especially virtual ones, we were encouraged to reach out to anyone and everyone at State to set up individual meetings to learn more about different career opportunities, experiences, and stories of those working at State. I met with almost all of my team members individually, but I also reached out to staff in other sections and branches who held portfolios that interested me. It was sometimes nerve-wracking to send the initial email, even though plenty of colleagues assured me that they received emails from interns all of the time, but I’m very happy I did, since I was able to meet and form connections with so many new people. Learning to network with people professionally, especially soliciting meetings from them and even talking with them during meetings, is an invaluable skill that I will use without a doubt in my future endeavors. After this internship, I can say that I feel more prepared for whatever adventure I embark on next.