Stories of Empowerment: My Internship at Ventures

I remember walking into the Ventures office on my interview day and being greeted by the energy in the space. The minimalistic décor with orange accents might have added on to my excitement, but I instantly knew this was the team I would gladly commit my 9-months long capstone to. As a graduating UW student in Educations, Communities, and Organizations, my program required an internship that fulfilled our prospective career vision. Inspired by the mission statement rooted in community empowerment and my aspirations in public policy, I applied to Ventures’ Advocacy and Communications internship wanting to learn more about policy and professional communication.

My internship experience entailed a variety of communications analysis and policy research. I started by analyzing Ventures’ social media to identify recommendations and new ideas for the team to use. As Ventures’ advocacy program evolved, my work naturally transitioned into advocacy, where I began researching Ventures’ policy priorities, drafting policy briefs, and creating power maps to identify key partners. As I moved forward with advocacy work, I learned about the many facets of the legislative process, from classifications of different initiatives and referenda to coalition building and a bill’s trajectory through different committees. Writing policy briefs also helped me predict how different policies will impact the community.

Rewinding nine months to when I was applying for the internship, I had a hard time grasping how advocacy and communications could be paired together, as I was oblivious to the foundational components that made policy advocacy so powerful—narratives of communities who are impacted by the policy, who can also be the agents of change. When I began my Ventures social media analysis, I recognized how transparent communications with stakeholders catalyze a positive change in creating a path to equity. Without a meticulous look into current policy implementation and its impact, it is difficult to find accessible opportunities for underserved population with limited resources. So, by maintaining an open communication with our stakeholders, we identify the issues our communities are struggling with and use data to move forward with effective advocacy work.

As an example, Ventures presents a number of policy priorities to promote accessible opportunities for our entrepreneurs. One of them is the Working Families Tax Rebate, which aims to alleviate the burden on low-income families and offset high sales tax rate in Washington state. To gain momentum for our advocacy work, I identified the Senate and House committees for our policy priorities and their respective legislative districts. Then using Ventures’ database, I worked on identifying Ventures entrepreneurs who are constituents of each legislator’s district to leverage our voice and step towards an equitable change.

There are many reasons to consider interning or volunteering at Ventures, but perhaps none is more worthwhile than being a part of something that remains firm to what it stands for. Ventures’ objective to empower low-income entrepreneurs wasn’t solely by the terms of economic mobility—it went well beyond business coaching and management workshops. It is the sense of agency Ventures instilled in our community that makes this work even more powerful. Ventures’ mission—empowering those of limited resources with unlimited potential—had, in fact, empowered me along the way.