August 15, 2014

Reflecting on the Summer with AmeriCares

Today marks the end of my time with AmeriCares. It was good since it was the first real job I’ve had that dealt with so many digital areas I’ve studied all at once, including social media, web management, WordPress, and content writing. It was great since, through it all, it hardly ever felt like work. The classic sign we all feel when we’ve found our calling.

So on my last day with AmeriCares, I can honestly say I’m extremely satisfied.

Don’t get me wrong, there were plenty of challenges that varied in how much they made we want to kick something. If I may list them…

  • There were daily duties for posting social media content I always had to get around to finishing but never seemed to find enough time for until the end of the day (meetings are curious things).
  • My workload could change drastically in a few minutes depending on what was trending, and I’d have almost no time to adjust these face-heel turns made me crash into a wall.
  • Some long-term projects would appear that needed careful thought to capitalize on, such as posting about the recent Ebola outbreak, and having to do so on Pinterest only made it worse.
  • A few select projects were so big that they needed plenty of approval and attention to detail to finally try out, mainly redesigning the health blog site, and even after finishing them they need ironing out. Otherwise the ghosts of the web management Gods will refuse to stop haunting me in my sleep.

Sounds difficult (and borderline in several cases), but oddly enough, dealing with each one of these obstacles never felt like work. The solutions just came naturally, like going for a walk (albeit sometimes with too many mosquitoes).

Daily posting was a matter of just scheduling posts far enough in advance, and I’m already in the habit of scheduling at least a day in advance for my own accounts. This time, for many posts, it was often for days in advance, which wasn’t a major leap. Maybe a light skip, even though doing that in the office gets some odd looks.

The 2014 AmeriCares interns with the CEO

When a new trend popped up that AmeriCares should post about, solving the time issue was just about finding a tool that was quick, easy, but could still make an impressive photo so share. So I wound up finding QuotesCover, and used it for both #MalalaDay, #MandelaDay, and the recent passing of Robin Williams to great effect both times. Like using a slow-cooker to cook, it creates an illusion of working harder with a veil of resourcefulness.

The Ebola outbreak was a major global health story with legs, and on the second day I realized it was as easy as setting up a Pinterest board on the virus to curate news from AmeriCares and other sources. Another way to capitalize on the trend was making a simple infographic for people to share and use to spread awareness on Facebook. Both wound up doing very well almost right away, and only my personal opinion of Pinterest remained low afterwards.

Redesigning the health blog was a lot of work, but also an idea I pushed a lot on my own initiative. Finding a theme, editing the color and functions, making sure all the content transitioned smoothly, and keeping the look and feel consistent with the AmeriCares brand. The project slipped naturally into my workflow without overloading my mind with extra stress that couldn’t be handling with some extra-loud headphones music.

In some cases I was even a big resource of social media knowledge to others, mainly to the other interns when giving a “Twitter 101” presentation on how the social network can be a valuable tool for marketing yourself to potential jobs (aside from originally using Prezi instead of SlideShare, it was a reasonable success).

For other areas of the internship, such as every intern needing to make a blog post, it just seemed to happen on its own. I wound up doing an animation on one of the lesser-known garden projects AmeriCares supports in Japan, and thankfully it stayed true to the brand and has been received well for something filled with stick figures.

All my subtle bragging embellished with sarcasm now aside, the thing that keep striking me this last week or two is that none of this ever felt like work. It was all natural, enjoyable, yet still challenging, much like a good gym day where you can keep pushing yourself since you don’t get tired, only more energized and determined. With a blistering playlist that only plays the good songs to boot. You know the feeling.

I wasn’t perfect by any means (my fellow interns will happily testify to that if you find them), but I also don’t have any regrets about this summer internship. While none of my other positions online have ever felt like work, this was the first time it was at a large enough scale for me to really realize it. Finding that affirmation for the work you do is always one of the sweetest feelings.

For all of us, it’s one of those priceless things that sits with you forever. Amidst how screwed up and dissatisfying we feel our life is, it’s one thing we can never twist into something we regret. A solid pillar that even our subconscious can’t find a way to destroy, making for some true happiness, which is truly priceless.

So thank you, AmeriCares.