The following post was written by our fabulous summer intern, Sarah Halperin. Sarah was with WCA for 10 weeks this summer through Cornell University’s Blumenthal Internship Program. She will certainly be missed and we wish her all the best as she enters her sophomore year at Cornell University. Thanks Sarah!
Going into the summer, I did not know what to expect from my internship here at WCA. I went in with an open mind and eager attitude ready to do whatever was thrown my way. This attitude, as demonstrated by my previous blog post about going to lobby in Albany for Raise the Age on my second day here, explains why I enjoyed my experience so much. While a small organization of eight women, the span of projects and issues WCA tackles is truly incredible and made my summer here very engaging. I continually learned so much about Westchester County (that despite growing up here I never knew) from not only a policy perspective but also from a data, communications, and overall organizational one.
My main projects this summer have been my work with our Home Visiting Survey scanning Westchester County for what programs and services are available compared to the needs of communities, our Vote For Kids Campaign researching new methods and questions to ask candidates this upcoming election cycle (don’t forget to vote!), our Youth Funding Sub-Committee gathering data on the current need areas of Westchester County, and our GPS4Kids Collective Impact Initiative planning the GPS4Kids Summer Celebration! In addition to this, I have also had the ability to help with data collection for our Community Snapshots and briefly aide in fundraising efforts, along with anything else that popped up along the way.
Data is Key
Despite the variety in my projects this summer, one thing that remained constant throughout was the importance of data. Whether it was gathering current raw data from databases such as https://data.ny.gov/ and then further analyzing it in Excel to researching past statistics and data presentations, the work I did was fact-based. Since I would not refer to myself as a “numbers person”, it is particularly interesting to me that I actually liked how much of my summer here related back to data! When presented correctly, I have learned that data becomes less number-focused and more story-focused. So, in my work creating infographics, it was always a priority to ensure that the data was compelling and visually appealing. While naturally there are things words can express that numbers simply cannot, for a quick overview or first glance at an issue, data is key. Further, it is much easier and time efficient (for me at least) to be presented with a page of statistics that highlight an issue in a community instead of a 100-page report presenting those same concepts. When going more in depth on an issue, presentations, such as the one Sarah Yergeau and I gave to the Old Guard on Raise the Age, and reports can be made to further explain what the numbers and infographics convey to the audience.
Aside from my array of projects and newfound appreciation for data, over the past 10 weeks I have had the opportunity and pleasure to work under and get to know everyone in the office and am inspired by how motivated and hardworking each of these women are. I cannot wait to see what amazing things WCA will continue to do in the future!