New Site, New Opportunities
I recall receiving an email about an extended deadline for the SLU PIC internship as I was in the process of figuring out post-graduate plans. A friend of mine who graduated in 2018, Bieke Bekker, had participated in the internship program in her last summer after graduating, and she loved her experience; this is probably evident from her own blog posts. Moreover, the internship position description indicated an opportunity to not only develop my professional skills and improve my resume, but also to broaden the scope of my work experience by interacting with a non-profit organization in this capacity. The nature of the work would also aid me in finding my career niche as I was unsure of what software development job I wanted to dedicate a good fraction of my life to. Graduation was right around the corner as well, and I was horribly nostalgic about my time in the North Country; why not get a few more months to make a few more great memories? With all this in mind, I put in an application and fortunately made it through the interviews.
Over this 2019 summer, as a recent graduate, I get to work with a site new to the SLU PIC program: the St. Lawrence County Community Development Program. SLCCDP is a private, non-profit community action agency that serves the St. Lawrence County through programs that provide low-income families a leg-up, so they may work towards self-sufficiency and improve their situations over time. These programs provide educational, food and housing support, as well as career, family and financial advice for personal development. There are also volunteer opportunities for community members who would like to offer their assistance in service provision. Right from the interview with my supervisor Felicia Dumas, the executive director, and her colleagues Dave and Katelyn from the finance department, I experienced the warmth and consideration of the employees that made them greatly suited to their occupations and encouraged me to offer my knowledge, skills and time to their cause. On the first day, I was welcomed with a cup of tea by Debbie and had a short but sweet chat with the receptionist Sheila. The friendly and supportive environment of the office certainly set a standard for the sort of work environment I would wish to develop my career and myself in.
My project for the internship is to redesign their website using WordPress for a more user-friendly and attractive experience. Having discussed the function of the website to the organization and its customers, the current website’s shortcomings, desired features among other details, I have taken the first week to develop a project plan and researched various elements of WordPress design to take into consideration while developing the website. Having a checklist of smaller tasks that result in the final product has really helped to set my focus daily on specific aspects of the project, which is a great ally in the battle against distractions! There is so much to learn and plenty of wonderful resources to bring together to achieve the set goals. I do keep in mind that with a defined timeframe, not everything could be accounted for, and not everything need be accounted for. Prioritization is key to the process, but along the way I encounter interesting topics that could be explored later.
An important part of the website redesign project is understanding the needs of SLCCDP customers who would use the website; This is one tricky bit as I may not have the opportunity to interact directly with them, but I am hoping to draw from my interactions with community members in the four years I have been in Canton. Where there is a will, there is certainly a way! I look forward to the following weeks, getting to know more about how SLCCDP operates, other employees in their respective departments and how I can help them serve the community.