This blog was originally published in December 2020.
When I graduated in May 2020, three months into the COVID-19 pandemic, I felt extremely lost and confused about a career to pursue. While I was finishing my summer job as a mentor for first-generation high school students, I often encouraged my students to ask for help, reach out to others, and most importantly do their research. I decided to take my own advice and research careers that would put my political science degree to use. I found the Full Court Press Fellowship Program on LinkedIn and immediately loved how FCP stood for enacting social change and telling powerful stories. I applied for the position, and soon after began my fellowship at FCP.
What did I learn about the communications world?
Every day, I learned something new and exciting during my fellowship at FCP.
Storytelling with Images
The first takeaway is that I recognized the power of storytelling through graphics and inclusive images that speak to different audiences. I discovered that it can be challenging to find stock photos that showcase people from different backgrounds and cultures, but it is still important to include as much diversity as possible.
The Importance of Language
I grasped the significance of using uplifting language. As a person of color, you often hear your struggles attached to your identity. Through FCP’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion training, I realized that a person’s struggles do not define them. Instead of focusing on the negative aspects of someone’s experience, it is more powerful to highlight a person’s strengths.
I experienced what it truly means to effectively communicate with the team. To be successful, it is crucial to ask as many questions as possible upfront and maintain communication with the team and client throughout a project.
FCP also taught me the importance of organization. I learned the value of sharing slices of my work in order to make sure I was on the right track. In the communications world, there may be days when unforeseen projects will be assigned to you, and these methods help to make space for unexpected client requests.
Finally, I realized in my fellowship that research is never-ending and does not stop after college. By researching different outlets and reporters, I gained insight into how different media channels reach different audiences.
Why fellowships are so important, especially for first-generation students.
As a first-generation student and eldest daughter of immigrant parents, I was always forced to “figure it out” on my own. I did not grow up with family members or people who worked “white collar” jobs. During high school and college, I often worked two or three jobs at a time while being a full-time student. Experiencing my first fellowship not only gave me real-life work experiences but taught me what an inclusive and caring working environment is supposed to be like. I believe every first-generation student during or after college needs to experience a fellowship that will open doors for them and exposes them to uplifting work culture.