A story from our 2013 summer intern Miranda. You will be missed!
This summer I had the amazing opportunity of working as the Social Media Intern for the White Roof Project. When I came across WRP’s posting for this internship on idealist.com and looked at their website, I was so excited and desperately wanted to do it. I am a rising Senior at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, with a major in political science and a minor in women’s studies and since high school, I have been a strong supporter of sustainability and protecting the environment. Interested in possibly doing nonprofit work in the future, I wanted an internship with a nonprofit in NYC to learn more about how they function and the type of work they require. I am also a longtime personal Facebook user, so this internship gave me the professional social media experience for which so many organizations are looking. Spreading the cool roof movement and the simple, tangible change of converting black roofs to white as WRP’s Social Media Intern seemed like the perfect opportunity to get involved with an environment-related organization in NYC and dip my feet in the nonprofit world.
The summer started off immediately on a high note, or in this case, a high roof. On my first day of the internship I met several WRP people, including the Executive Director, Rachel Laiserin, outside the organization’s first painting project in Astoria, Trinity Lutheran Church. This Astoria Initiative began with a press conference and then we proceeded to climb rickety ladders to get up on the roof. It was a little scary, but fun.
After this, I spent the majority of the internship working on my social media skills and searching the web for interesting articles/videos/photos to post on our Twitter and Facebook pages. I loved having time to surf the web for content to post. It was great to have a chance to spend long stretches of time reading interesting articles about climate change, something I wish I had more time to do during the rest of the year. Rachel and I met up twice a week to work on our social media and Executive Director work. A few weeks into the internship, after spending some time working in Starbucks and using their free wifi, we moved to the Wix Lounge, a free co-working space that has free coffee! The space is really cool, it is a great work environment, and it is great place for networking; most people there are working for non-profits or startup companies. In addition to the social media work, I also went to WRP’s monthly Board Meetings, attended several other meetings, did two social media webinars, and aided WRP in its transition to the Nation Builder web platform.
Probably the most important lesson this internship taught me is the effectiveness of social media as a tool for movement building as well as the importance of spreading ideas through word of mouth. Whenever people asked me what I was doing this summer and I told them that I was a social media intern for the White Roof Project, they would either say, “Oh cool! What do they do?” and be really interested, or say “White Roofs! My neighbor…” or “I heard about that the other day on the radio,” or “You should paint my roof!” Everyone I told was extremely supportive and interested, either excited to learn about the benefits of white roofs for the first time, or making connections to what they already knew about the cool roof movement. This is part of what makes white roofs and the White Roof Project’s mission so great—once people accept that climate change is happening (and there is scientific consensus!) they embrace this simple, and tangible way to combat climate change, keep their homes cool, and save money on energy. What is there not to love? Getting such positive feedback from everyone I talked to made me realize the extreme importance and need of spreading awareness about the movement. The reason more roofs are not white is because people do not know what the benefits of white roofs are! Therefore, the way to build this movement is to build awareness. Make this simple, tangible change possible by telling your friends about it, liking us on Facebook and following us on Twitter, and liking, sharing, and retweeting our posts. The more people read and hear about white roofs, the more of a norm it will become. Spread the word and spread the movement.
In two weeks I go back to school for my senior year of college. Thanks to social media and the internet, I plan to stay very informed on the progress of the White Roof Project and the cool roof movement in general. I’m not sure what I will do in the future, but this internship definitely strengthened my love of nonprofit work and reaffirmed my need to work to protect the environment. For those of you who liked/followed our pages or read, liked, and shared my posts, thank you so much! It was so amazing to know that I was helping to spread awareness about the movement. And of course, thank you to the White Roof Project for giving me this amazing opportunity.