Learning Skills to Last a Lifetime

At the beginning of the summer, I had no clue what I was going to do. I was feeling the effects of COVID-19 and all the uncertainty that came along with it. All I knew was that I wanted to do something purposeful with my summer; do something to make a difference. So I applied to the JVS Kohn Internship, an opportunity for Bay Area Jewish college students to get professional experience over the summer. After receiving an acceptance letter into the program, I was quite honored. I felt lucky to be wanted for this opportunity. My brother had previously done it, but I didn’t really know what to expect.

Turns out this was the best thing I could have done. I was placed at the Diller Teen Tikkun Olam Awards department within the Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund, an organization I am very familiar with. My first day on the job, I actually had a socially distanced picnic with my supervisor, Jessie Austin, and co-worker Lia Woertendyke. We immediately connected over our love of kombucha, yoga, Judaism, and making a change in the world. From that day on, I knew this summer was going to be amazing.

Everyone I worked with was so warm and welcoming. I had daily check-ins with my supervisor, which was the most wonderful way to start my day. I also had daily check-ins with my team, and while most conversations were spent having “work talk,” I always felt comfortable talking about daily life and the struggles we all face in today’s society. I felt valued. I felt needed. And all for who I am. I was given important tasks, and I was honored to do them.

I learned more than I ever thought I would this summer.

I had workshops every Friday with the other Kohn interns, where we learned about LinkedIn, informational interviews, and opportunities for activism. We asked questions and were challenged by different beliefs. In my specific position, I learned how to ask for help when I needed it, a skill that has proven useful in my day-to-day life. I also learned about organization and goal-setting.

One of the most important things I learned was how to balance my mental health with work. Especially during these crazy times, this skill proved the most valuable and I was encouraged to practice it. I am so grateful for my team, and everyone who supported me.

Categories: Young Adults, Community


September 16, 2020


Emma Tick-Raker