Well, my fellowship has officially come to an end. It’s been a few weeks since I finished actually, and I’ve taken this time to really reflect on my experience.
What did you accomplish with your host organization? What was the impact of your work?
I accomplished a lot during my time with the NYC MOCR! I was able to develop a written proposal with a set of recommendations to build on the City’s public outreach and engagement efforts with NFIP stakeholders (primarily residents, but also other city, state, and federal agencies and some NGOs too!). Alongside that, I developed some supplementary material, including a one-pager, sample social media content, etc. The work that I accomplished this summer will provide direction for the City’s long-term engagement platform with strategies that provide a stronger emphasis on maximizing city resources and meeting residents where they’re at. While I wasn’t able to see any of my recommendations implemented in the brief time I was there, my suggestions were met with positive feedback, and I hope some of them will be implemented in the future.
Describe the benefits of this experience for you professionally and personally?
This experience has been immensely beneficial. Professionally, it has given me a stronger sense of the type of work I want to focus my energy on, the type of work environment that I thrive in, and the sectors I might be interested in. While my work this summer focusing specifically on the National Flood Insurance Program has been highly illuminating, I’ve discovered that I am more interested in working on other aspects of coastal resiliency and sea level rise. One thing that was particularly frustrating is that because the NFIP is a federal program, state governments have very limited ability to make changes to the program itself, which limits their ability to help residents (i.e. with affordability), so I’ve discovered that I might be more interested in working more closely with communities through an NGO (however I haven’t completely ruled out government work either!)
Beyond just giving me a sense of the subject matter I’d like to focus on, this experience has also highlighted how important a good work environment is to me. I need a good work/life balance in order to not burn out, and one thing that makes that work for me is a really flexible work environment. I think the typical 40 hour work week in the U.S. doesn’t work for everyone, and it definitely doesn’t work for me. So going forward, prioritizing finding an employer who is flexible and adaptive to employees needs and abilities is definitely something I’ll focus on.
Did your experience provide any unexpected discovery, self-reflection, or epiphany?
My experience definitely provided time for self-reflection. I was really lucky to have a supervisor who wasn’t only interested in the work I produced, but in my professional development as a whole. Together with her, I’ve realized that my speaking and presenting skills have gotten much rustier over the past year and half of working remotely. I’ve also had time to reflect on my own insecurities and instances of imposter syndrome. While I am usually confident academically, when it comes to professional settings, I tend to doubt myself – my skills and knowledge, my worthiness of being in the position I am, etc. Having this opportunity for this self-reflection is important I think, because it gives me the chance to focus on developing my confidence in professional settings for the future.
Overall, it’s been a really great summer. I’m proud of the work I accomplished, but mostly I’m grateful to have had this experience and opportunity to grow and further discover my interests for the future.