Caroline Soffer ’20: American Friends Service Committee

Name: Caroline Soffer
Class Year: 2020
Major: Political Science
Hometown: Chevy Chase, Md.

Internship Organization: American Friends Service Committee (AFSC)
Job Title: Grants and Communications Intern
Location: Philadelphia

What’s happening at your internship?

This summer, I’m interning at the American Friends Service Committee in Philadelphia. AFSC is a social justice oriented nonprofit that oversees programs here in the United States and around the world. It’s been fascinating to learn about the breadth of AFSC’s work, which stretches from fighting for migrant justice at the U.S.-Mexico Border, to advocating for Palestinian rights through both U.S. and international policy.

I feel incredibly lucky that I’ve been able to work with many different departments throughout my time at AFSC. With the Development department, I learned about creating lasting relationships with donors, and what it takes to write a successful grant. The staff at AFSC were incredibly supportive of me when asked if I could write a grant myself, and I was so grateful for their patience, expertise, and helpful edits. My time with the Communications department has felt like a miniature stint in journalism school! I learned about how AFSC chooses to write about their various programs, and how researchers analyze data from social media hits.

Why did you apply for this internship?

I applied to work at AFSC through Bryn Mawr’s Summer of Service Program. I was looking for an internship that would align with my political science interests. When I applied, I’d just gotten back from working at the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh. I was looking for something more academic, and thought it would be interesting and different to work at a nonprofit.

What has been your favorite part of this internship?

My first day at AFSC was particularly memorable! I was nervous and overprepared for my first day — I had chosen my outfit the night before and gathered all my favorite pens and notebooks in preparation. When I arrived, I was set up at my desk, given a laptop, and sent off to set up my email and password. “OK, I thought, so far so good, this is the amount of IT I can handle.”

I was soon called in for an early morning meeting, where the staff told me that there was a surprise waiting afterwards. A surprise? My mind raced to what it could be, or what I had done wrong. Was my password not strong enough? I used numbers and letters!

The surprise turned out to be a party in my honor, to celebrate my first day at AFSC. My boss explained that it was AFSC tradition to dispel first-day nerves and make newcomers feel especially welcome! The whole office gathered around plates of cheese and crackers, grapes, and Oreos. It was such a lovely way to start an internship, and I felt so supported by everyone in the office.