Meet the Amararians | Jocelyn Chan: Reflections of My Internship Experience

The  time I spent with Amara in the summer and fall of 2018 as a Marketing Intern has greatly inspired me  in terms of movement toward improving equal access to knowledge. I didn’t picture myself interning at a nonprofit when looking for internship opportunities, but Amara opened another door for me! During my undergraduate program, I majored in Education and specialized in English instruction to kids in Taiwan. The mission Amara holds reminds me of the spirit of altruism in teaching and taking care of people from different backgrounds. Thinking back to the first interview with the Amara marketing team, they asked me, “What motivates you to work with Amara?” The answer from me at that time still stays true today: As an English-as-a-second-language speaker, I can relate to the struggle of learning a new language and the difficulty of understanding content delivered by foreign languages, especially in situations where you can’t understand the song from your favorite singer or movies without the help of subtitles! My own learning experience  and educational background made me excited to find Amara. I am proud to be on the Amara team to help the world become inclusive through video subtitling and to promote equal access to information without language barriers. That’s the main reason  why I extended my original summer internship to continue working with Amara — I wanted to stay a part of it to see how the cause keeps benefitting more and more businesses and individuals. Another reason was the openness of the Amara team’s working style. It allowed me to apply what I learned at Hult Business School in International Business and Business Analytics through real projects. With the team’s guidance, I built solid and rounded business strategies, which was what I was looking for in an internship while studying.

Jocelyn leading a Subtitle-thon for Amara.org in San Francisco

Not only did the mission of Amara give me extra incentive to work while contributing to the accessibility of digital content, but the friendly working environment made me grateful for my choice to work with them. Starting from day one, we held all our meetings and did our work remotely. This was very new to me and at the beginning I honestly withheld some doubts and uncertainties about what the working pace would be like. However, the organized meeting schedule and coworkers’ openness to help out at anytime made me feel closer to the team more than the typical office work life I had before. It made me realize how technology benefits us such that we could bring all our talents to the table in a fast and synchronized way, without being affected by time differences and distance limitations.  On our digital marketing team alone, there are members coming from Spain, Canada, San Francisco and Boston. Amara has been a great example to me when it comes to working from home, with a great amount of flexibility. In addition, as a marketing person, I naturally question things, brainstorm a lot, and pursue changes. At Amara, whenever I came up with a new campaign idea or marketing strategy, I always voiced them in meetings to have the whole team open up for conversation. It was not about whether or not the idea would be adopted or come to fruition in short order, but that Amara always gave me a sense of freedom and comfort to share my thoughts, which motivated us from all sides. I could keep turning my “thinking wheel” and my team got more opportunities to think about how to improve the service to our customers and seek the solutions to enlarge Amara’s impact. That dynamic and interactive working environment is what I look for in a social enterprise and helps define what makes good organizational culture.

Inside a motivating workplace like Amara, I felt inspired every day to improve my marketing skills and became eager to learn things to help each other out and pursue the best outcome as a whole. Under the close team bonding and cooperation, my individual skill sets were enhanced as I learned what I was especially good at after demonstrations and explanations throughout the meetings. Meanwhile, I got to explore some other areas of business  I didn’t know well before but now interest me, like project management and research analysis. I treasured every chance to run a campaign from proposal to implementation, since I learn by action. The weekly team and individual meetings gave me instant support and advice to adjust what was not working well at the time in order to minimize the loss or time wasted. Overall, during the five months of my working experience with Amara, I utilized my strengths to help reach goals and to recognize my weaknesses after team feedback. Most importantly, the Amara team cares about my learning and career path. They always asked for my thoughts on the workload and interning style. They even sketched out our work plans and responsibilities together with me! In my case, I could choose to focus on the areas of interest to me and on skill sets I wanted to dive more into, which is what I appreciate the most.

Under the hands-on assignments, Amara trained us to be able to nail every step of the project from the beginning, rather than just taking a glimpse from a distance or manage only a small piece from the whole. It helped me become an independent worker and build up solid skills like market research, marketing analytics, A/B testing, project management, and presentation. As I was not only charged for one responsibility over time but rather from diverse angles, I received not only challenges but also the sense of achievement for being valued, being heard, and being counted on. That’s why I have grown so much as a professional since working at Amara, and the speed of learning just went faster during the fall, which is what I had been  totally looking forward to. Business executives always advise that we should choose a workplace that cares about having opportunities for their employees to learn and grow. Amara was a place for me to learn, to share, to take care of society, and to cultivate empathy and awareness of equal access.  Overall, a good workplace for me now is not just about work culture and self-learning, but also about working for a good cause as well. I am proud to say Amara qualifies for all of these things!

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