Adventures in the Non-Profit World by Allison Cossman

Live from Washington, DC, summer marketing intern Allison Cossman is taking you behind the scenes of JWI. A Maryland native, Allison is a senior at the University of Michigan, majoring in communication studies. She is blogging throughout the summer for Michigan’s Communications Department blog about her life as a non-profit intern, her attempts to figure out her future, and highlights from her summer working in the nation’s capital. 

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by Allison Cossman

As an incoming senior living in arguably the most “professional” city in the world, Washington D.C., there has yet to be one day this summer where I have not been asked, “what do you want to do after graduation?” Despite three years of college, one semester studying and working abroad in London, four internships, and twenty-one years of thinking about my future, I am ashamed to say the three most dreaded words in a college senior’s vocabulary: “I don’t know.” My biggest issue trying to figure out what I want to do after graduation is that I have such wide-ranging passions for media, writing, marketing, reading, advertising, public relations, Judaism, film, women’s rights, and democracy. Different ideas for careers I am interested in float in and out of my head daily, and limiting myself to just one seems impossible. So I have decided to spend this summer, my last chance to intern before graduating, trying my hand as a marketing intern at a non-profit organization that combines almost all of my passions – Jewish Women International (JWI).

JWI is a DC non-profit working to empower women, fight domestic violence, and help abused children. I am entering my fourth week of work here and could not be happier. Everyday, I come into the office, sit at my desk near the other interns (four to be exact), and get to work on legitimate assignments whose end purpose is to carry on JWI’s mission of empowering women and girls. This to me is the greatest perk of working at a non-profit organization, employees with a desire to make the world a better place in whatever way they can. I love being surrounded by people who share a similar aspiration to advance the lives of women, and whose daily tasks are meaningful and critical means to achieve this goal.

As a marketing intern, my main job is dedicated to JWI’s magazine, Jewish Woman (www.jwmag.org). I come up with ideas for articles, write them, brainstorm ways to best promote the website and JWI’s mission, implement creative ideas to better bridge the print and online versions of the magazine, and edit articles. Outside of the magazine, I work with the other interns to plan events such as JWI’s Summer Series, a series of breakfast roundtables with young women to discuss critical issues in their lives. Since a non-profit uses their money to advance their mission rather than hire thousands of employees, they utilize me and my time to the best of their ability – and I could not be more appreciative of that. I am trying to take full advantage of this opportunity by putting my all into my work, and networking with every employee and intern I meet around the city.

In these past four weeks, I have learned an incredible amount about the non-profit world, been inspired by people who have dedicated their lives to making the world a better place for women, met countless interns around DC in my same shoes, and am making baby steps in figuring out what I want to do with my life. My goals for the rest of this internship are to be as professional as possible at work, network and get to know people’s stories (I may get some much needed insight and advice), put 110% into all my assignments, and most of all, not to stress about my future, but rather view the fork in the road ahead of me as an adventure of endless possibilities.

L-R: JWI interns Aviva Norman, Stacey Nisenson, Elizabeth Roseman, Allison Cossman, and Melanie Fineman

You can view the articles I have written for Jewish Woman magazine here:

Summer Shabbat Celebrations

Father’s Day Gift Ideas

Summer Museum Exhibits

A Shavuot Book for Kids

I see my path, but I do not know where it leads. Not knowing where I am going is what inspires me to travel it.” –Rosalia de Castro

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