PITW #112: City Year is not what you think it is.
Opening with a PITW is far from an original hook, but I think it’s the best way to demonstrate just how far down the City Year rabbit hole I now find myself since beginning my internship here two months ago. I walked into the City Year Columbia office on my first day with certain expectations: to gain insight and experience in non-profit management and learn more about the work that City Year does and how they accomplish their goals. But City Year is not what you think it is.
Yes, I absolutely learned more about non-profit management. I shadowed most of the staff members here in the Columbia office, working primarily with Kaitlin Nichols, the awesome Operations Manager. I sat in on conference calls and a grant orientation, participated in a staff meeting, worked with partners in off-site events and programs, and I assisted and learned about various tasks and operations that keep City Year moving forward. I learned about social media, branding, fundraising, recruitment, and the difficult but rewarding process of working with young AmeriCorps members to help students in need. I also made a lot of copies…so many copies. However, there’s more to City Year than day-to-day operations.
PITW #8: City Year-ize everything.
Early in the summer, I spent several hours in the office learning about City Year culture. I started off with some teambuilders and an introduction to PT, learned some callbacks, read the Idealist handbook, watched PT videos, sifted through the Founding Stories, and picked out my favorite PITWs. As an introvert, my initial reaction was similar to a turtle being poked and retreating into its shell- “Nope, nope, nope.” While I connected with the core principles and outlook of idealism, I found it difficult to see how my shyness and City Year culture could mesh.
But learning about the organizational culture of City Year didn’t end when I left the office that day. Once you’ve been indoctrinated, City Year culture sticks with you. It’s the underlying thread that strings together each facet of the operation and unites the City Year team. At the staff meeting, “PITW #__” is followed with an automatic “Bing!” Meetings are debriefed with teambuilders. Conference calls begin with ripples and joys. Last week, as the team leaders ran through PT exercises preceding BTA, Vice President and Executive Director of City Year Columbia, Dr. Gail Wilson-Giarratano, joined them. You cannot shake-off or escape City Year culture, and despite my initial hesitation, I wouldn’t want to.
I really appreciate that I’ve been able to be a part of the City Year community. One of the core values is inclusivity, and I’ve felt that every day this summer. City Year culture isn’t exclusive to any type of person or group of people, but is something that everyone can partake in and learn from.
PITW #66: Do three squishy things a day.
Debriefs make me feel squishy. Chanting makes me feel squishy. Talking in front of a group of people of any size will always make me feel pretty squishy. I did my fair share of squishy things at City Year Columbia, and oddly enough, I’ve really enjoyed that. In fact, I feel like doing the squishy things motivates me to further action, and even though those hesitations and hang-ups and fears may stick around, rewarding experiences are to be had when you challenge yourself.
PITW #100: City Year is an act of will.
With my internship at City Year coming to an end, I find myself more inspired than ever to find the time to dedicate myself to service work. Looking at the world through the lens of idealism and witnessing the important work City Year does in the community is extremely motivating. I look forward to committing time post-graduation to service work and volunteer efforts, to putting everything I learned at City Year Columbia to good use in my professional and personal life, and to holding onto and cultivating the vision of idealism.
Written by Nichole Mayberry, City Year Columbia Summer Intern