From Colorado to Comunicadores: An Internship in Advocacy

Guest Author: Aaron Madrid Aksoz

This spring, Vanguard partnered with the Cisneros Hispanic Leadership Institute to fund Comunicadores for the Future, a paid internship program that supports the next generation of Latino communicators. Aaron Madrid Aksoz is the one of the program’s interns.

I’m a first-generation college student from a small town in Colorado, studying political science at The George Washington University. This summer I had the privilege of interning at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), a nonpartisan, nonprofit legal and advocacy organization that focuses on protecting and defending the civil liberties of all people in the United States.

I work in the communications department at ACLU’s Washington Legislative Office, and have become more familiar with the legislative process, improved my writing and communications skills, and gained exposure to the type of work I can expect if I enter the communications field.

Since this is my first internship experience, I didn’t know what to expect. I hoped to do more than just make copies.

During my first week, I drafted statements and wrote social media posts; within the first month, I wrote blog entries and pitched stories to reporters. I quickly learned the basics of communications work and have continued to develop them each week.

It hasn’t always been easy. There were many assignments that I found confusing or beyond my experience. I had to problem solve and ask for help, which will serve me well in the future.

One of my projects involved communicating the impact a repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) would have on people with disabilities who rely on Medicaid for essential services. The ACLU has organized rallies on Capitol Hill against the ACA repeal, which required social media posts, statements and pitches to reporters, compliments of yours truly.

Through this work, I learned about the budget reconciliation process as it unfolded on the Senate floor and made connections with dozens of experienced individuals at the ACLU and other organizations who are likewise passionate about the rights of those with disabilities.

My internship has shown me the power of communications firsthand and how working in this field allows you to create change in unexpected ways. From informing people about pressing issues to mobilizing them to engage in the political process, communications changes lives and makes a difference in our country.

The work I’ve done at the ACLU has opened my eyes to a field that I had not considered before. It also has given me valuable insight into the importance of having internships as a college student, which I strongly urge all students to take advantage of if they can. Internships are an excellent way to make connections and gain experience in the professional world.

None of this would have been possible without the generosity of Vanguard Communications and the Cisneros Hispanic Leadership Institute at GW, which connected me with the ACLU and provided resources so I could take an unpaid internship.

I look forward to continuing my work with the ACLU into the fall and learning more so I can translate the skills I have developed toward my future career.