Final Blog Posts from Rollins’ Summer 2014 LGBT Advocacy Interns

Hanna Cody @ Supporting and Mentoring Youth Advocates and Leaders (SMYAL) in Washington, DC

As I sit on the plane heading back to Minnesota, I can’t help but realize how wonderfully unexpected these past two months have been.  I came to Washington D.C. excited, but completely unaware of how transformative this summer would be.  My time at American University and SMYAL has helped me grow in my strengths as well as confidence.  A week ago I successfully executed a donor cultivation event that I planned from start to finish all on my own; I have watched a taping of Meet the Press; I had breakfast with Senator Al Franken; I was quoted in Tagg Magazine, DC’s premiere lesbian publication; and I 06.29.14_002met countless amazing people, including my wonderful roommate.  I loved my time here so much that I will be returning to American University as a participant in their Washington Semester Program for the fall.  I could not be happier to return to this incredible city in three weeks.  I honestly don’t know if I could ever sufficiently put into the words the experiences I’ve had and the lessons that I’ve learned this summer, but for the purposes of this blog, I will do my best to summarize.

This summer, I have learned that:

  • Laughing makes you a better advocate. It can be easy to get bogged down, worn out or take yourself too seriously, and though putting in late hours at work can be good, being too tired to function isn’t.  Taking care of yourself by taking time off work, or stopping to laugh with your coworkers gives you the energy to do your job better.
  • We are very far from equality.  My last weeks at SMYAL heavily focused on finding ways to engage queer women to become donors and get involved in supporting SMYAL’s programs.  As we continued to brainstorm, it became increasingly evident that women were not involved in SMYAL, not for a lack of interest, but because our system (and probably the LGBT advocacy movement at large) was heavily geared towards supporting the needs of gay men.  Even though our society is making strides towards equality, it is obvious that much more needs to be done to make sure that no one, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender, is underrepresented or ignored.
  • Never pass up the chance to build a relationship. When working in any field, it’s inevitable that you’ll have to interact with people.  It never hurts to take some time to grab coffee, learn more and start establishing a good relationship for the future.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for advice.  Most people want to see you succeed and are more than willing to tell you about their experience.  Take time to reach out and ask someone about the path they took to where they are today.

IMG_5194These lessons are applicable to anyone, anywhere, at any age or in any field, so I would hope that any student reading this would take some of this advice to heart.  As I conclude this blog post and my trip, I have to thank everyone who made this possible either by conducting interviews, answering my never-ending stream of questions, or just assuring me that I would some day conquer the Metro (in case you’re wondering, I only got lost a few times… a week).  This couldn’t have been possible without you, and for that I am extremely grateful.

Read all Summer 2014LGBT Advocacy Intern blog posts here.



Don’t Let a Disability Disable Your Job Search

Bianca - ThumbnailSubmitted by Bianca Buscemi, Career Services Practicum Student

According to the United States Department of Labor as of June 2014, the unemployment rate for persons with disabilities was 12.9%, which is twice that of persons without disabilities.  According to Jon Viera, Assistive Technologies Specialist, Disability Services, Rollins College, it is important to combat these statistics that are against persons with disabilities by ensuring a, “creative, proactive approach when in the job market, and coming to prospective employers with solutions.”  As a job seeker, it is at your discretion when to self-disclose your disability.  With this self-disclosure, it is helpful to provide suggestions on accommodations you can be provided in able to perform the essential job functions.  In addition to this approach, use your disability as a positive.  For example, “Even though I may not be able to do x, because of this, I am really great at y.”

Jon closed with one last piece of advice, “own the disability, it is as much a part of you as your hair color.”  Jon provides great insight due to his experience with Disability Services and with identifying as a person with a disability.  No matter what the circumstance, employers are always seeking an employee who is confident and comfortable in their own skin.

Jon provided a very comprehensive list of services to assist.
Department of Labor-Office of Disability Employment Policy
Section 508
Americans with Disabilities Act

Access Lynx *serves Orange/Seminole/Osceola counties, but most areas have similar programs.

Rollins Assistance:
Disability Services
Career Services

July Blog Posts from Rollins’ Summer 2014 LGBT Advocacy Interns


Hanna Cody @ Supporting and Mentoring Youth Advocates and Leaders (SMYAL) in Washington, DC

photo 1As the saying goes, time always flies when you’re having fun. It seems like it was only yesterday that Sabrina and I were moving into the Berkshires and coming home excited after our first days at work. Within a short four weeks, I can already see the growth that has occurred since I entered the Washington Summer Internship program. Just like anyone starting something new, you always begin doubting yourself at first; you question every single one of your actions and always look for confirmation that you haven’t committed some horrible mistake that would to bring your entire workplace to shambles. When I first started at SMYAL, I can safely say that I was that tentative person who wasn’t always confident of her work or abilities. Though I still have doubts, I feel much more confident in my abilities and knowledge. If my boss had told me at the beginning of the summer to plan a donor fundraising event to rejuvenate the Women for SMYAL program all on my own I probably would have panicked. Now, I feel capable and prepared to put together a donor cultivation event all on my own. Read the rest of this blog post here.



Sabrina Kent, National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) in Washington, DC

photo 3As my time here in DC continues, I continue to grow as a professional. I have felt myself become more comfortable with taking on ambiguous tasks without much direction and finding positive results. My supervisor has an invested interest in NGLCC’s interns continued growth and success during our time at the organization. In order to monitor my growth as a professional, each week I write a detailed report of the projects that I am working on, how I feel I am growing at NGLCC, and what I seek to be challenged by in my internship; this system has encouraged me to be accountable for the growth I am achieving. I have recently been working on becoming a business-oriented, succinct writer, which my supervisor has encouraged and guided me through.  Read the rest of this blog post here.


Since the Summer of 2009, the Johnson Family Foundation has provided grant funding to send Rollins students to Washington, DC to intern with LGBT advocacy organizations.  This summer, Sabrina Kent and Hanna Cody were selected for this program.  They have been asked to post periodic blog entries, sharing their experience with our blog readership over the summer.

First Blog Posts from Rollins’ Summer 2014 LGBT Advocacy Interns

Since the Summer of 2009, the Johnson Family Foundation has provided grant funding to send Rollins students to Washington, DC to intern with LGBT advocacy organizations.  This summer, Sabrina Kent and Hanna Cody were selected for this program.  They have been asked to post periodic blog entries, sharing their experience with our blog readership over the summer.  Below are their first blog posts of the summer.

Hanna Cody @ Supporting and Mentoring Youth Advocates and Leaders (SMYAL) in Washington, DCIMG_4936

As I looked out the window from my plane, the beauty of the city immediately surprised me. I could see the Washington Monument out of my window, and as we descended into Reagan, I could not believe that I was about to spend the summer in the nation’s capitol. It quickly became apparent that the city was both an exciting and welcoming place. I met with my fellow classmates during American University’s orientation to debrief what our class, Community and Social Change, was going to be like over the next eight weeks.  Our professor immediately made it apparent that he wanted to make the class as beneficial as possible and promised to design classes that got us off campus and out into the “real” D.C. We made wish lists of all the things we wanted to do or people that we would like to meet while in the city and presented those ideas to our fellow classmates. From there, our professor has begun to compile a personalized itinerary for the remainder of the summer, which started out with a trip to the British Ambassador’s home for a gathering, celebrating the launch of the summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict. The evening was truly unforgettable and it was awe-inspiring to hear the ambassador speak, let alone see the inside of his home.  Read the rest of this blog post here.


Sabrina Kent, National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) in Washington, DC

We’ve only been in DC for two weeks and already this experience has been better than I had ever expected it could be. I’ve already made it a point to embark on my fair share of tourism. The first night that I got here I went to the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument and last Monday on my afternoon off Hanna and I explored the Smithsonian’s Museum of Natural History. This summer I am serving as the Meetings and Education intern at the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) here in DC. Not only do I work less than a block away from the White House in the old National Securities Building (how surreal!), but I instantly felt at home in the positive work environment that I was thrust into just two short weeks ago.H and S at British Ambassodor reception

The NGLCC serves the LGBT business community by connecting LGBT Business Enterprises (LGBTEs), business owners, employees, and entrepreneurs with the chamber’s corporate partners (Wells Fargo, American Airlines, IBM, to name a few) to expand the economic opportunity and advancement of LGBT equality in the workplace. In 2002, the founders, Justin Nelson and Chance Mitchell, sought a solution to the economic inequalities that LGBT small business owners (in particular) face in a capitalist America. Read the rest of this blog post here.

Lessons from Hawaii

Submitted by Drew Doty, Class of 2013

It has been a year since I graduated from college and rest assured the learning has not stopped. Rather than walking across a campus to various class DrewDotyrooms where learning was instructed to the rudimentary tune of a syllabus, I now engage the world I studied for seventeen years. In doing so, the magnitude of life has become incredibly real. This is both a blessing and a challenge, for if I succeed or fail in this classroom the effects impact far more than just a grade point average. This is not said in remorse. In fact I find relief knowing that my work now amounts to more than just a number on a piece of paper. I also have come to thoroughly enjoy certain activities that I used to dread, such as writing, which is what has prompted me to write this article.

It is timeless wisdom that tells us we will forever be students in life, and lucky we all are that this is true. In the past nine months since I left Rollins College I have been on a bit of an adventure with a mantra of “figuring it out.” I am currently writing from the Big Island of Hawaii with a list of the lessons this paradise has taught me, most definitely the hard way. I am certain that it is rare for any person to leave the academic world and not stumble, and perhaps this is for the best. How else could we find our gumption? It should be noted that this is not written out of bitterness or regret, but rather as a reflection with the hope of helping others in similar shoes to my own. The following are a few points worth contemplating.

  • Take the time to determine what your work and the time it takes to accomplish it, is worth in this economy. Do not settle for less. This will definitely change as time goes by, but having a starting rate will help you avoid situations where your services may be taken advantage of. In the worst case, where financially you must acquire immediate income, certainly do not pass up a paying job because it pays less that you should be making. However, do actively engage the intention to make this situation as temporary as possible.
  • Before starting a new position, clarify with your employer what your exact responsibilities will be, what your compensation will be, and how many hours per week you should anticipate working. Starting a new job is exciting, especially in an economy where good jobs are hard to find. It will be well worth the time to allow yourself a day or two to process what the commitment will look like for you. Make sure this will be a good investment of your time and energy.
  • For the many people who are unsure of what their exact career path will look like (myself included), work-trade positions offer a seemingly affordable way to travel, gain practical experience, and network. The reality is there are a lot of us who are unsure or are not ready to commit to a career right out of college, and this is just fine! But, this also means that there are a lot of people looking for inexpensive ways to travel and experience new places, which those offering work-trade positions are well aware of. Do not let the lure of exotic travel compromise what you have established as fair compensation for your services. In other words, if you are considering doing a work-trade position, be confident in what you are worth to that employer, and politely negotiate a fair trade before you commit.
  • Always speak your whole and honest truth. It doesn’t matter how you get it out, but you will never feel satisfied if you don’t.
  • This may seem like common sense, but it is still not worth learning the hard way. Never tolerate sexual harassment. Regardless of whether it happens to you personally or to someone in your network, you have a responsibility to yourself and your community to take immediate and thorough action against it.
  • When buying used cars (or mopeds) make sure that the title, registration, and inspection are all up to date. It is more than worth the money to have a mechanic thoroughly inspect the vehicle before you buy. The freedom of transportation is very alluring, but you have got to be patient and smart about the buying process.
  • Unpaid internships should be avoided. Quite frankly, as college graduates (or even students) we should be smart enough to market ourselves to paying employers as valuable assets, regardless of the amount of experience we have in that given field. We have spent roughly a quarter of our life examining, studying, and applying what we have learned in a classroom and we can certainly do this in the workplace. Do not let any company (no matter what their prestige is) tell you that you are not capable of accomplishing the work that needs to be done for them just because you do not have three years of experience doing it. If you want experience in a particular field, it is worth the wait to find a paid position in such field. Consider picking up a more accessible job while you search and keep reading and studying your field of interest. The more you know, the better you can market yourself for the position you really want. Go after what you want and never give up the chase.
  • Travel is a beautiful thing. For many of us, all we know is we want to travel the world and that’s cool. However, what we generally do not see is the value in establishing ourselves in one place for a long period of time. Sure, home is definitely in your heart, but consider how nice it is to have a large network of friends in one place, to know all the hidden gems of certain city, to become an active member of a community rather than just a tourist. By having a home base, you have somewhere to travel from and back to – a place where you can process all the incredible places you have been and to plan your next adventure. If travel makes your heart grow, a home base allows your heart to rest which is equally important. So my recommendation to those who are unsure of what career they want and who really want to travel, find a place where you would love to live for five years. This doesn’t mean you necessarily will, but with that goal in mind you will be critical enough to find a really great location.
  • To add to this, use the time you have now to learn how to save and invest your money really well. I know it sounds agonizingly boring and a lot of the literature on the topic is. However, by saving and investing intelligently, you give yourself the freedom to do what you really want to do (like travel). Also, once you have learned how to do it really well, you will have this skill for life, which means a lifetime of getting to do what you really want to do.
  • Take the time to learn how to grow at least some of your food. It is incredibly simple once you know how, and it can be done in any living situation. Financially, you could save yourself hundreds to thousands of dollars a year depending on the extent to which you grow. This is money you could use doing more things you really want to do. This is another one of those skills that you will have for life, and gladly so.
  • Finally, and this is the hardest one, be grateful. No matter what you are struggling with find a way… find something that makes your soul feel grateful. If you can be grateful you will always find happiness. You do not have to love everything in your life, but you can be grateful for having life.

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Being Smart with Your Smartphone in the Career Search

Bianca - ThumbnailSubmitted by Bianca Buscemi, Career Services Practicum Student

In the 21st century, we have become accustomed to technology at our fingertips, in particular with the evolution of smartphones. A plethora of information is now at our disposal that provides us a great deal of connectedness and information in a matter of seconds. Career search engines have joined forces with app developers to provide their services on the go. I have compiled a list of free and beneficial apps to simplify your job search. Many of the apps serve the same purpose of matching you to job postings based on location, salary, keywords etc., but I have identified unique features of each app.

Job Compass
Has listings in over 55 countries

JobSearch by Indeed
Constantly refreshes and shows you new postings based on your preferences with every login

Features an open forum where users can ask questions and receive advice from fellow users regarding the job search 

Ideal for those looking for local temporary or contracted work
Users can apply and submit work directly through the app   
Find a job on Media Bistro
Not an app, but can be accessed on mobile browser
Publishes job opportunities for journalists (freelance, part time, full time)

BeKnown by Monster
Networking platform that utilizes Facebook friends to show connections you have in specific career/companies
Beware of linking social media to job search (I recommend a social media “cleanse” prior to utilizing this

5 Tips for Rollins’ Soon-to-Be Graduates

Anne - ThumbnailBy Anne Meehan, Assistant Director of Career Services

Graduation is not the end….we are all works in progress!

Graduates should heed these words of wisdom from billionaire and co-founder of LinkedIn, Reid Hoffman.  “This is your time to launch, start something new, take a risk – there are no mess-ups or mistakes, just learning opportunities.”  Career and life planning is truly about the journey and not the destination.  So as a career services professional with over 15 years of experience in the field of helping recent grads launch – here are my new grad tips.

graduation Maintain Agility – Remain nimble and be willing to try something new, risky, something that will challenge you every day and allow you to learn.  All industries need agile professionals able to turn, move and change quickly to meet needs and demands so stay nimble.

Market Your Talents beyond your Major – Your major does not dictate your career!  Most employers seek candidates with transferable skills that are willing to learn so focus again on your talents and transferable skills.  You can go into most any industry if you are able to translate your skills and experiences to how you can help make a difference or impact. Focus on your key strengths and skills and be sure to market yourself.  No matter what industry you pursue, they want to see what you have to offer so promote your talents through your resume, social media outlets (LinkedIn Profile, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, etc.) and in the interview.

Build & Maintain Your Network – Utilize LinkedIn, your alumni network and other groups/affiliations to help grow your network.  You can gain so much career insight from alumni and other industry professionals so seek out people to help you grow your network.  Relationships = Jobs!  Grow your network and remember to help others along the way.

Utilize Your Campus Career Office/Alumni – You have free career resources and access to online resources, resume tools, job postings and alumni contacts right on your campus so utilize these reso10611742643_3843269cf2_zurces while a student as well as beyond graduation.  You can seek coaching on developing a job search or career plan that fits you with the help of your career office staff.  Rollins offers resources and career advising services to our graduates for life, so as you go through career transitions, remember we are here for you.

Continue to Grow and Learn – Never stop learning!  Move forward and not back. Remember…we are all works in progress!  Your first job is an opportunity to learn, take on new projects, and grow. It may not be your dream job or it may but either way you will learn. Own your career, keep networking and stay agile!