Our interns have been so busy this fall, they hardly had the time to give us responses to this post. But it’s time now to meet the students and recent grads who’ve been helping us keep the charity: water wheels greased for the past few months! Take a minute to learn about each of them:
How did you hear about charity: water?
Mutual friends introduced me to Scott + Viktoria and I was intrigued by the organization from hearing updates of their trips to the field. Their enthusiasm was contagious. Seeing the same aspirations in their staff and supporters inspired me to ask questions at every opportunity for ways to get involved and support their work. Once hired, I booked the next flight I could find out of Sydney back to NYC!
What has surprised you most about working here?
The team is small but dedicated, hard-working, and they know how to have cheeky fun. There is also great potential to contribute and add value to the organization as an intern. Oh, and seeing a pink tutu worn at the office can brighten a workday like nothing else.
What is it that you do here exactly?
I’m assisting on projects with our executive producer, and in particular all things charity: ball, which is right around the corner. The scope and variety of work keeps it interesting! We’ve been communicating with partners & donors for sponsorships and awareness raising, walking through logistics on site at the venue and managing the guest list and ticketing sales. It’s also been fantastic seeing how each part of our team fits in the process of bringing the event together. We’re all excited to see it be an incredible night for our guests + supporters.
What do you think is the key to charity: water’s success as a non-profit?
A combination of their commitment to the 100% model, capturing people’s imagination through multimedia in support of their cause and a creative, motivated team driving the long-term vision.
What’s your favorite thing about the charity: water office? Anything you’d add or change?
The couches are my favorite. They’re definitely the best place for creative working sessions. A fishtank or aquarium would get my vote!
Ok — getting personal… what’s the most memorable dream you’ve had?
A recurring childhood dream that I was welcomed into every house in the neighborhood to see how they lived and ate Vegemite toast.
And what’s your favorite animal?
The polar bear. Any animal that calls the Arctic its home I’m convinced has special powers.
Where would you like to see charity: water work next in the world?
This November, charity: water held its first ever Australian event and connected media, tech and business leaders in Sydney to our global story. I’d love to see influential partnerships grow out of this to further benefit the water programs we are already developing in the Asia-Pacific region.
What’s your favorite thing about NYC?
Aside from the fact that NYC is an all around awesome city, I’ve been amazed by all the different cupcake places! Since cupcakes are almost a staple in the charity: water office, I’ve had a nice sampling since I started interning here.
What do you do when you’re not at charity: water?
I work at J. Crew near my home, outside of Philadelphia.
What’s the best song to listen to while riding the subway or commuting?
This changes for me on a weekly basis, but right now I’ve been listening to Fleet Foxes on the train. I normally have time to get through an entire album, but my favorite songs to chill out to on a long ride are White Winter Hymnal and Ragged Wood. They’re relaxing, but still keep me awake so I don’t miss my stop.
Anything special you’ve learned while working here?
Just how passionate the staff is about all of charity: water’s supporters. At any point during the day, someone in the office can be found talking about how amazing our fundraisers are, whether they are major donors or a seven-year-old donating the profits from his lemonade stand. Everyone is so genuinely appreciative of the selflessness involved behind every contribution, big or small.
What part of the world do you think charity: water should focus on next?
I would love to see charity: water extend its work to Somalia. The situation there and throughout the rest of the Horn of Africa is considered one of the worst humanitarian disasters to occur within the past sixty years. I know that it’s been nearly impossible for any Western aid organization to intervene due to geopolitical reasons, but I hope someday it’s possible for charity: water to facilitate projects there.
Don’t be afraid to speak up! As an intern at charity: water, your ideas and opinions are always appreciated and valued.
How did you prep to start interning at charity: water?
I think I watched every video ever posted on the charity: water website. All of the footage is so powerful, and despite facing the enormity of the water crisis, made me feel like any small way I could contribute through this organization could really make a difference in the world.
Any advice for future charity: water interns?
Don’t be afraid to speak up! As an intern at charity: water, your ideas and opinions are always appreciated and valued. It’s easy to feel intimidated initially when so much of importance is going on in the office, but you’re treated as part of the team from the beginning.
Tea or coffee? Favorite post-it note color? Can you curl your tongue? Favorite animal?
I’m a coffee addict for sure. Hot pink. Sadly, no. A panda. It rhymes with my name, so that works right?
What’s your role at the intern table?
I’m a Development Intern here at charity: water. It’s a lot of administrative work — replying to emails, processing matching gift requests, organizing donor data, reporting on monthly giving — things like that. I also clean up the left over bagels. And by “clean” I mean “eat.”
How did you hear about charity: water?
I was assigned a project on charity: water in my marketing class. We had to design a marketing campaign directed at college students for charity: water. The professor presented the project as a class competition. Needless to say, my group won.
Coming from the West Coast, what’s your impression of New York City so far?
New York is a little rougher around the edges than where I’m from. The city seems to have a very blunt, direct manner, which contrasts California’s laid back persona. It’s actually kind of refreshing though. I love the city and I’m continually impressed by it.
What’s the most notable thing you’ve learned while working at charity: water?
I’ve actually learned a lot about the history of our water project sites and countries. I didn’t expect to be so informed by our water projects staff at our weekly meetings. I think I have a much more educated view of some of the countries charity: water works in.
Anything you’d change about the office?
I’d like to see the ping-pong table get used more often. I think an office-wide ping-pong tournament would be awesome.
Any advice for future interns?
Bagel breakfast isn’t just bagel breakfast… it’s also bagel second-breakfast, bagel brunch, bagel lunch, bagel afternoon snack, bagel supper and bagel dinner.
How’d you hear about charity: water?
I heard about charity: water through a friend of mine who has previously interned here. She had posted the Water Changes Everything video on Facebook and I just thought the organization was amazing after watching it.
Tell us what you spend most of your time on here.
I’m one of the Communications and Development Interns. I update the project status reports online. I also answer questions that people have in regard to media and charity: water, help prep for events and do pretty much anything the Communications Department needs.
And outside the job… what do you do when you’re not in the office?
I’m a senior in college, so most of my time is spent working, but I recently moved into an apartment. Now I’m really enjoying cooking, so when I’m not busy working, I’m experimenting in the kitchen.
Now for some silly questions. Can you curl your tongue? Do you believe in ghosts? What is your favorite color of post-it notes?
Yes, I can even do it into a three-leaf clover! No, I don’t believe in ghosts, but sometimes after I’ve watched a horror movie, I look through all my closets before I go to sleep. I love post-it notes, I’m always writing reminders for myself. Right now I’m going through a neon green phase.
What is your favorite thing about NYC?
I love the little parks all over the city. I love the High Line and Bryant Park, those are my two favorite places in the city. I like just taking a book and relaxing there, it kind of takes me away from the business of the city.
What’s your favorite thing about working at charity: water and living in NYC?
I really enjoy the fact that I can get around anywhere without having to drive! I’m a sucker for public transportation. But because I’m a native Georgian, I definitely had to learn how to read subway maps. I’ve also learned to walk super fast and to weave through people so I’m not late for work.
When you’re not working, you’re…
Doing arts and crafts and DIY things. So when I’m not in the office, I’m perusing the internet for some awesome blogs.
What has surprised you most during your time here?
Honestly, the amount of traveling that my supervisors have to do. How they keep their sanity still boggles my mind!
What is your power animal?
I’d say a monkey or a koala. Mainly because they’re both so cute and I have no idea what a power animal is.
Fun fact about you?
I’m a sci-fi geek at heart.
Andi Rae Heely:
What brought you to charity: water?
I’m pursuing an accounting degree right now and I came across a posting on Idealist.org I was amazed to learn that 100% of the donations are actually used for water projects. It’s a great philosophy and quite a feat to pull off from an accounting standpoint.
So what goes on in the accounting department?
Our biggest job is dealing with all the checks that come through the mail. Even though we receive a lot of our funds through mycharitywater.org, we also still receive a lot of physical checks. I help to make sure they get to the bank and into our accounting system.
Where could we find you outside the confines of the charity: water office?
Probably performing with my band, Andi Rae and the Back River Bullies. If I’m not playing a show then I’m most likely tending bar or working on homework so I can finish up that accounting degree.
Are there any elements of songwriting that cross over into your work as an accountant?
If there is any element of songwriting that crosses over into accounting, I would say it’s the idea of putting together a puzzle. Once I start a song, it feels like putting a puzzle together — finding the right pieces for the right places. And I think accounting is a little like that, too.
What is your favorite part of the charity: water office?
Definitely the photographs. They’re huge and beautiful. Really, all of charity: water’s media is great. The website-based fundraising initiatives, the photographs and the videos are all incredibly well-done. It doesn’t hurt that making sure everyone has access to clean water is something we can all get behind. I take great pride in being a part of the process that makes sure our donors know how thankful we are for their support.
Jan Way Chen:
What do you do at charity: water?
Like Andi, I’m also an Accounting Intern. In addition to making sure all the checks are copied and logged into our system, I also make the deposits for the donations during our month-end cycle.
Once you found out you got the internship, how did you prepare for the first day?
I tried to get in more sleeping at night so that I’d be ready and able to work in the morning. I skimmed briefly through my accounting books to jog my memory of some basic accounting terms and concepts. I wanted to be prepared in hopes of learning a great deal from working with this organization.
Anything surprise you about working here?
The most unexpected thing I’ve learned would be how everybody plays an important part in making the organization what it is today and how it grew over the past five years. It’s pretty surprising how much you can learn in such a short period of time.
Where would you like to see charity: water work next in the world?
charity: water is providing a basic need that every person should have access to. It’s currently water, but maybe they can move to other human needs when the water crisis is resolved. Maybe charity: water could work on the hunger issue or any other necessity that we humans need.
Do you have any words of wisdom for future interns?
I’d say be prepared to learn a lot when working in this organization. Get to know your fellow interns and through helping each other, you can learn a lot from one another.
Tell us how you heard about charity: water and what your impression has been so far.
My best friend’s family has been involved for awhile, with volunteering, donating and interning. They told me that not only is charity: water an amazing organization, but their internships are hands-on and interns are given real responsibility, which is all true. The people at charity: water are absolutely amazing. I don’t want to sound corny, but I barely knew anyone at my other internships, and they had very cold environments. charity: water is warm and it truly is like a family. It’s very clear how much everyone loves working here and loves what they do. You honestly couldn’t ask for a better place to work.
What do you do at charity: water, exactly?
As the Happiness Intern, my job at charity: water is to help Shayna, charity: water’s Chief Happiness Agent, with any projects she has. This involves answering phone calls or emails that come in from folks with questions about our programs or how to donate. I also help with the monthly volunteer nights, and generally trying to engage donors and keep them happy.
Where would you like to see charity: water turn its focus in the upcoming years?
I visited Laos last December and I was blown away. Laos is rich in culture but is one of the poorest countries in Asia. I would love charity: water to expand into some of the rural areas and help provide the people there with some relief.
What do you like to do around the city when you’re not at the charity: water office?
I stalk food trucks and hang out in the West Village. I love getting brunch at Pastis, but I probably shouldn’t say that… it’s going to get even more crowded than it usually is! I love walking up and down Perry Street; the cobblestone streets are beautiful, and it’s such a great place to people watch!
What’s your favorite subway line?
The ACE goes to all of my favorite stops, like 14th street and Spring street. I feel like I live on the 123 commuting from Barnard to charity: water, but I think the ACE has the most interesting people.
Have any pets?
I have two dogs named Frickleness and Rudy. I know, Frickleness is a very strange name. There used to be a cat on the TV show the Big Comfy Couch named Snicklefritz, and I called him Frickleness. My parents thought it would be funny to name our dog Frickleness, and I will never live it down.
What is your role at charity: water?
I’m officially called the Development Intern, which translates into intern who handles tax receipts, special acknowledgements, and doing research for potential donors.
What’s your favorite nook in the office?
The entire structure of the office space, really. The minimalist design exudes a sense of simplicity and openness which has the dual effect of keeping people focused on their work without isolating individuals. The music in the background is also a nice touch.
What is the best song to listen to on the train?
I usually like to fall asleep on the train so Falling Slowly by The Swell Season. My goal over break is learn it on the guitar.
Being a born-and-raised New Yorker, what’s your favorite thing about the city?
That’s a really hard question. I’ve traveled to a couple cool cities, but I must say NYC is still my favorite. I love that nobody stands out here. You can be your crazy self, crying on the subway or wearing an insane outfit — both of which I’ve done -– and no one offers you a second glance.
Being surrounded by intense eclecticism, even your craziest moments become a mere cliche. Others may feel lost or neglected in such a city, but in this melting pot I feel truly liberated.
charity: water is successful because it constantly strives to reinvent the idea of charity. Many generous individuals are disillusioned by charity scams and systemic non-profit inefficiency.
Any thoughts on what makes charity: water stand out in the non-profit world?
charity: water is successful because it constantly strives to reinvent the idea of charity. Many generous individuals are disillusioned by charity scams and systemic non-profit inefficiency. People who would otherwise be altruistic are disinclined to donate because they’re skeptical. Recognizing these tendencies, charity: water works toward transparency. Donors can be assured that their hard-earned money, no matter how small the contribution, goes directly towards clean water. charity: water accomplishes the task of winning donors’ trust through many innovative initiatives such as proving water projects with GPS coordinates and tracking every dollar donated through the Dollars to Projects campaign. It’s not an easy task, but charity: water is really good at it.
How did charity: water catch your attention?
During my senior year of college I enrolled in a Social Entrepreneurship class. On the first day of class my professor brought up three people that were making a difference as social entrepreneurs: Muhammad Yunus’ for micro-banking, Victoria Hale for health insurance, and Scott Harrison’s work for the water crisis. I was hooked.
Why are you in NYC and what do you do at charity: water?
I had just moved into my apartment in Massachusetts for grad school, so when I got the call that I had been selected for the internship, I packed up the car and made my way back to New York. I also had been studying the organization so I couldn’t wait to see everything I had studied first hand. As for what I do here, I assist Scott’s Executive Assistant, Lindsay. I deal a lot with the day to day tasks of organizing meetings, as well as some long-term projects like speaking requests, travel itineraries and contact lists. Since charity: ball is just around the corner, I have also been working on some pre-gala events. I have learned so much from this organization. Seeing how such a successful non-profit works from the inside out has been truly inspiring.
And when you’re not working?
I’m in grad school right now getting my degree in conflict management and resolution. When I’m not at charity: water, I spend most of my time working on my degree, which means lots of studying and reading.
Where in the world do you think charity: water should head next to battle the water crisis?
The Ekipe Village on North Efate Island in Vanuatu. Water is forty miles from these villagers’ homes. They have no access to running water near their homes, let alone clean water. There have been some attempts to provide them with access to clean water but I think that this would be a great place for charity: water to go next.
What do you think makes charity: water special?
The passion everyone in the office exudes about providing people with access to clean water is contagious. No matter what task I am working on, I know that it is helping the mission of the organization. It has been an honor working with the other interns and the staff of charity: water.
How and when did you first come across charity: water?
This past summer, I was the social media intern for the Direct Marketing Educational Foundation, an awesome non-profit whose board Paull Young currently serves on. Meeting Paull led me to learning more about charity: water, which caused me to fall in love with its mission. He encouraged me to apply for the Digital Intern position, and I’m so happy that I did!
Where could we find you on a day when you’re not here?
When I’m not at the charity: water offices in NYC I’m on campus at my college, Princeton University. There I hang out out with friends and enjoy living life as a senior college student.
What has been the most interesting or surprising tidbit you’ve picked up while working here?
Although I was aware of the water crisis before I started working here, I really had no idea how many places it impacted. The water crisis is a global crisis, not just one that afflicts African countries.
Finally, what do you think charity: water owes its success to?
I really like the fact that charity: water tries to make every donor understand that they have made a significant contribution to the cause of eliminating the water crisis. I think that thanking every person who fundraises and giving them proof of the water projects they helped build has a big impact. charity: water gives every person who donates special attention and I believe really lets them connect to the cause, which leads to them inspiring others to donate as well.
What is your duty when you’re in the charity: water office?
As a Happiness Intern, I help Shayna, our Chief Happiness Agent, manage all the awesome volunteers for our Volunteer Nights as well as the upcoming charity: ball. I also relish my role as a “walking FAQ” for all our visitors in the office.
Charity has become personal; it doesn’t only change another person’s life, it changes our own lives. Every supporter becomes a catalyst and in a sense, everyone becomes a part of fighting the water crisis.
What’s the story behind you first hearing about charity: water?
Two years ago, a friend of mine asked me to donate to his sister’s birthday campaign on mycharity: water. I didn’t even know her very well but my exact words to her were “I’ve never been so glad to give someone a birthday gift. Happy Birthday!” and from there I started to learn more about the water crisis. After hearing that about a billion people don’t have access to something we all can’t live without — well, I haven’t been the same since.
What’s your favorite feature of the office?
I love the map of the world on the wall in the front. We take note of all the areas charity: water works in by placing a Jerry can sticker in that region. It’s the first and last thing people see when they come and leave the office and it’s a great reminder of where charity: water is working.
Tea or coffee?
Tea! I am proud to say that I am no longer a coffee addict. I went through at least a month of withdrawal symptoms including night sweats, headaches, nausea and terror! I have resorted to the black tea we have in the office although my favorite is jasmine green tea.
What do you do here exactly?
I’m the Multimedia Production Intern so I put together blog posts like this one. It’s fun to ask questions to my fellow interns, but it’s a little weird to ask them to myself. I assemble the Campaign to Watch posts and Photo of the Day tweets. I’ve also done a lot of video and photography work. The experience has allowed me to get more familiar with the 5D and hone my editing skills.
Favorite moment at charity: water thus far?
Well, charity: ball hasn’t happened yet and I have a feeling that’s going to be pretty epic. But, the two video shoots I’ve been a part of thus far have been a blast. Shooting the water balloon fight with Mo was one of the most entertaining things I’ve shot and edited in a while. Shooting the Quest for 101 Campaign to Watch with Mo and Greg was doubly fun. Especially trying to cross the Veteran’s Day Parade. Gotta love New York City!
How did you prepare for the internship?
I consumed everything regarding charity: water that I could. I read about them, watched their videos, and began following their Twitter and Facebook feeds. You can learn a lot about an organization really quickly this way. It was a fascinating learning process.
Any advice for future interns?
Be a sponge. Be open and willing to learn. But also don’t get too comfortable just sitting on your haunches taking it all in. The staff is really accessible and I tend to learn best by speaking with people one-on-one. I would set up small 15-20 minute meetings with different departments to get a more intimate understanding from the people who know their work best.
You help edit blog posts… so, were you ever good at spelling bees?
I made it pretty deep into a regional bee. The competition was at a local mall and things were going well for me. I would say about half the field had been eliminated at that point and I was starting to feel confident — as confident as an 11-year-old Brandon can feel — but I lost focus. I went through the word “receive” too quickly and transposed the “i” and the “e.” When the judge said no, I was shocked. I’ll never forget him saying into the mic as I walked off-stage “i before e, except after c.” Needless to say, I haven’t misspelled that word since then.
What do you think makes charity: water a successful non-profit?
Integrity. This is an organization with a clean house and an excellent mix of start-up entrepreneurial energy and credentials. From the transparency of their finances and 100% model, to being one of the first non-profits whose clean branding and unconventional marketing can not just hold the attention, but capture the imagination of Millennials, I’m constantly impressed.
What’s your favorite Thanksgiving food?
Pumpkin pie. Use the recipe on the Libby’s label, but substitute sweetened condensed milk for evaporated milk. Just try it. You’ll never go back.
Favorite thing about NYC?
Running into friends unexpectedly — it’s happened three times in the past week. I love this small town.
What’s your advice for future crops of interns
If you finish a project, ask for more work! charity: water grew 85% from 2009-2010 and is holding that momentum. There’s always more that needs doing, and no task is too unimportant.
What has been the most unexpected thing you’ve learned while working here?
You can’t “over-thank” a donor. I love that even though charity: water is a leader in using social media and technology — when I joined in September, we were reviewing 250 Youtube “thank you” videos for standout mycharitywater campaigners — we’re still committed to the handwritten note and a phone call on a donor’s birthday.
What is your favorite thing about the office? Anything you would change?
My favorite thing about the office has to be Jasdeep’s wardrobe. That man can rock orange pants and a bedazzled hoodie like no one else I know. If I could change one thing… I would add more carpeting. The epoxy floor is cool, but there aren’t many soft furnishings so everything — from coughing to high heels clacking — is amplified.
Finally, how did you prepare for your internship?
Before charity: water, I was a public relations strategist for International Justice Mission in Bangalore, India. As a result, I have a fuller picture of what it takes to provide communities with clean water, and that’s not just from my personal encounter with a waterborne parasite! While managing the implementation of a grant from Intel to fund a deep water well and irrigation system for a community of IJM’s clients in Tamil Nadu, I realized success is not just about access to equipment and manpower to dig a well. Ensuring a well is sustainable also requires strong relationships with government officials and the local electricity board, along with a sense of ownership among beneficiaries.
What led you to charity: water?
I first heard about charity: water on Hulu. One of the ads –- the one featuring Jennifer Connelly, in fact –- played around mid-episode. It definitely held my attention, probably because charity: water did a great job of putting things in perspective. Sometimes, that goes a long way.
When not hard at work at charity: water, what are you doing?
I’m currently a sophomore at NYU majoring in Economics and Environmental Studies, and I work part-time. I also recently bought a ukulele and have been trying to teach myself to play it. Song number one to learn is Happy Birthday and I’m getting there — slowly.
What’s been the most unexpected thing you’ve learned so far?
I was always very interested in how nonprofits worked on the organizational level, and charity: water is giving me the chance to see this for myself. It’s a misconception to think that a huge staff is needed to get things done.
Where would you like to see charity: water focus their efforts next?
Myanmar has one of the worst healthcare systems in the world and the poor infrastructure there likely limits people’s accessibility to resources. Although the political situation there may be an obstacle to NGOs at the present, there’s potential to one day help start to address these health and infrastructural issues by providing access to clean water.
Being a native New Yorker, what is your favorite song to listen to on the train?
Sometimes I listen to (dramatic) movie scores, especially when I’m reading during my commute. My picks: anything by Hans Zimmer, Carl Davis, or Joe Hisaishi.
And what makes charity: water successful?
charity: water offers a sustainable solution to the water crisis instead of simply handing money over. The fact that fundraisers and donors know exactly where their money is going is a testament to charity: water’s commitment to bringing visible change. I also like that education is incorporated into the installation of water infrastructure. This not only encourages sustainability, but also enables community members to play an active role in maintaining and improving their communities themselves.
Thanks to all the interns for participating in the survey and big thanks to Stacie for helping me on both photoshoots! — Brandon, Multimedia Production Intern