Immanuel Mitchell-Sodipe ’18 270 Strategies – I started my internship at 270 Strategies on the first Monday after finals. It had been a rough semester for me with a brief stint in the hospital and other hardships. I had studied abroad in the Fall of 2016 and upon returning in the Spring, one day President Hess stopped me in Center Hall (mind you, I was running late for a class) to talk about my study abroad experience. We then ended the conversation with his query: “Do you need a job?” Of course, I did! I told him I was interested in doing some political work in Chicago. He told me about 270 Strategies, took my number down, and told me he’d try to set up a meeting with Jeremy Bird – CEO of the company and Wabash alum. Jeremy would be at Wabash for the Celebration of Student Research and I was presenting a paper I wrote for Dr. Carlson’s epistemology class. And though Jeremy couldn’t make it to my presentation, President Hess sat us down at dinner together.
This leads me to my first take away from my internship experience: say, “yes.” Say yes, even if it’s an opportunity you didn’t even think you wanted. To be honest, 270 Strategies was not the type of work I was expecting to do – I was expecting to do a lot of door knocking, grass roots type work – but it was fun and informative nonetheless. Through just talking to different folks at the company, from my supervisor to the COO, I learned about different aspects of political organizing that I never knew before. I also learned how my skills as an organizer could be applied to work in the legal profession and in the consulting industry, and vice-versa. So, if I were to give some advice to a young bright-eyed Immanuel, it’d be this: say yes (even if your Aunt offers you a summer job at a finance firm in New York City).
My second take away is: ask questions. I don’t come from a family of collegiate people – I’m a first-generation college student. I never knew how the whole internship thing was supposed to work out. I thought that interns were there for free labor – kind of like trying out for a spot on a sports team. But my supervisor at 270 Strategies told me something different. The purpose of an internship is to learn how to do a job. I came in with grassroots organizing experience but wish that I asked more and learned more about digital organizing.
I don’t come from a lot of money and frankly, could not have afforded to do this internship if it wasn’t for the Small Business Internship Fund. Because of the funding, I was able to cut my teeth in labor organizing, political organizing, and a marketing campaign. I hope whoever reads this takes heed of these take aways: say yes, ask questions.