This is a guest blog by Strategies for Children intern Kathryn Zimmerman. Kathryn is entering her senior year at Boston College, and she expects to graduate in May, 2018, with a major in Applied Psychology and Human Development and a minor in Sociology.

I have greatly enjoyed my eight months at Strategies for Children (SFC). After being connected to Strategies through my instructor and research boss Kyle DeMeo Cook, I was nervous and excited when I started as an intern last January. I had never worked for a non-profit or for such a small organization. However, I quickly realized that I loved the culture and environment at Strategies. The staff is in this field because they care about and enjoy doing this work. Since there are only a few employees, everyone was very welcoming and took the time to get to know me. I felt like I was an integral part of the team; doing important work for children, their families, and the state.

During my time at Strategies, I learned important lessons. To accomplish anything in this field, you have to be creative and willing to share ideas, even if they get turned down. This field is still new, so there’s no formulaic way of solving problems. Thus, the people who are truly good at this work understand the field and find creative ways to introduce new programs or advocate at the state level. I like to think that while I was here, I started to develop my own voice and share my own thoughts and ideas.

Everything we do as advocates involves strong relationships. My bosses understand the value of relationships and stress this. Whenever we went to meetings, they always took the time to introduce me to people and build my network. Whenever we were in a room of people, someone always knew Amy, Titus, Chris, or Laura; that always impressed me. Having strong relationships helps Amy further the agenda of the Early Education for All campaign.

Through this network of relationships, I was able to learn about and interview for a part-time position at the Department of Early Education and Care that I will begin in September! I’m excited to take on this new job and gain experience in government. I believe that what I have learned about connections at SFC will help me. I think that there are definitely fields where everyone works independently toward their own goals, but in this field it is clear that the more connections and relationships you have, the stronger voice you have to get things done.

I have truly appreciated my time here at Strategies. It is a great organization with a clear mission and a history of accomplishments. Many people, including Amy, told me that this work can be challenging because it feels like you’re working so long at something and there’s little improvement. However, they also taught me not to be discouraged because there are lots of small victories, and every day that you chip away at it, things get a little bit better for children and families. This field really values young people who care about the work and see its value. Strategies for Children has been a great place for an internship to learn about policy, advocacy, and early childhood.