Women’s Studies Minor Kirsten Fedorowicz’s Externship

Getting to “The Room Where It Happens”

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For two weeks during the summer of 2017, I was lucky enough to have an Externship through the Women’s Studies Center. After applying in early March, I received an update in April that I had the opportunity to work with Angelika Lee of the organization Creative Many. Angelika graduated from Aquinas with degrees in Communications and Theology. She serves as the Director of Communications for Creative Many, an arts advocacy organization that seeks to empower creative individuals and the creative economy. The Women’s Studies Center paired me with an alumna and an organization that share my creative and social justice interests, while still allowing me to grow in a professional way.

In my work with Angelika, I split my time between two weeks. One week, at the beginning of the summer, was spent doing research of channels to reach college students and Michigan communities outside of the major cities with which Creative Many already works. During this week, I worked from home and discussed my progress with Angelika over Google Hangout. The second week, right before Fall Semester 2017 started, was spent working directly with Angelika in Grand Rapids. I sat in on conference calls with the rest of the Creative Many team to take notes, provided proofreading for Angelika’s company writing, and pursued a research project that examined other organizations and their membership programs, as Creative Many is looking to begin their own.

On Friday of the second week, I went with Angelika to Lansing to view a marketing proposal for an arts education campaign that Creative Many was looking to launch. I felt like I was “in the room where it happens,” to quote a favorite line from the musical Hamilton, by seeing the breakdown of a campaign and being included in the discussion. Angelika works on her own in Grand Rapids, but I was also able to meet her coworker Sarah when we were in Lansing.

In my work with Creative Many, I recognized that the skills I already possessed were valued in a business setting. I felt as though my opinions and perspectives were a valuable asset to the work that Angelika was doing. She often asked me for my view on a subject as a college student. I used my writing and research skills in a professional setting. Moreover, in applying myself in the business environment, I was able to recognize some important traits I would like to develop, such as efficient note taking, public speaking, and interviewing.

I also learned a broader lesson: that you do not have to be working for a nonprofit or have your feet on the ground to participate in social justice work. This felt like a breakthrough for me to look at making change to systemic issues by working inside the system. In their support of artists and the creative economy, Creative Many strives to be racially and economically inclusive. In one of their programs, they are teaching artists how to run for political campaigns. Angelika put emphasis on including diverse voices in Creative Many’s programs and discussions. Angelika’s personal passion for social justice and experience as an AmeriCorps volunteer lead to some great personal discussions. It was amazing to be able to connect with a passionate professional individual.

Externing with Creative Many was a good reminder that I can combine my passions and skills in the workplace. I’m thankful for the opportunities that Angelika and the Women’s Studies Center were able to provide, and glad that I was able to seek them out. My Externship was a valuable experience, both academically and personally, as I navigate my junior year and my future career options.