LifeMoves is a Bay Area-based nonprofit dedicated to breaking the cycle of homelessness locally. They provide interim housing and support services for individuals and families at sites between San Francisco and San Jose.
I was drawn to doing an internship with LifeMoves because I believe that the homelessness crisis is one of the most pressing social justice issues facing the United States, especially in California. In San Francisco County, two-thirds of the homeless population is unsheltered (as opposed to one-twentieth in New York City). I previously worked with LifeMoves as a camp counselor for one of their summer camps, and, two years ago, my family and I brought Thanksgiving dinner to one of their sites. While I enjoyed doing service that directly impacted the clients, I was interested in taking on a more administrative role and learning more about how nonprofits run.
I started my internship on June 10 and it has been a fulfilling experience so far. As a Development and Operations intern, I am in charge of restructuring the X drive, an online database in which all LifeMoves information is kept. My position involves meeting with the employees that use the drive to get input about proposed changes and organizational strategies, learning how to use new software such as Microsoft Outlook, Office, and Excel to keep track of the items in the archive, and supervising two other interns.
The best part about working at LifeMoves has been the relationships that I have made with the other interns and my supervisor. Over the past month, I have grown close with the interns that I supervise, Jane and Ashley. Jane is a neuroscience major at UCLA, and Ashley is a Political Science and Sociology major at CalPoly. I love the fact that my team members have different interests and skills than I do, which makes it more fun to collaborate. Ashley is teaching me new skills in Excel like how to make a tree graph. Likewise, I’m teaching Ashley new skills in command prompt, such as how to use code to find files in the X drive or make a directory. When Ashley, Jane, and I aren’t working, one of our favorite activities to do together is play ping-pong during our lunch break.
My supervisor, Data and Donor Manager Erin Haynes, has done a great job of giving me projects and opportunities that suit my interests in social justice. One of my favorite experiences has been speaking on immigration law and how LifeMoves can protect clients that are not yet citizens of the United States. As someone who is considering attending law school after college, this seminar inspired me to consider becoming an immigration lawyer.
In addition to supporting my interests, Erin is also responsive to my needs and feedback. At the beginning of my internship, I explained to her that I’d like to have daily check ins with her, and she has been accommodating of that. She also is open to me asking questions and has done a great job of teaching me new skills. When I was having trouble using VLookup in excel, Erin scheduled an excel workshop for all the interns so we were all on the same page. This kind of personalized support is a special part of working at LifeMoves.
Overall, I’d strongly recommend interning at LifeMoves to any Oxy Student currently living in the Bay Area. This internship provides a unique look at the homelessness issue in California, a chance to work with a dynamic and supportive staff, and an opportunity to bond and collaborate with other college-aged students.