Sadly, we have to say goodbye to Catherine since it is her last day at Next Step. She made her presence felt this summer at Next Step. Catherine helped out in the Next Step office and off-site at our three Summer Campferences and Health Fair for young people living with HIV. We loved working with Catherine and we hate to see her go. That being said, we know she is going to do big things at Tufts University and in her career once she graduates.
We recently sat down with Catherine to talk about her experience at Next Step this summer. Her thoughtful answers will warm your heart and educate you about what Next Step is all about. Thank you Catherine! You are a rock star!
1) Was this internship what you thought it would be?
In a lot of ways I did not know what to expect coming into this internship, but whatever my expectations I did have at the beginning were exceeded in a big way! I knew right away that Next Step’s team was going to be awesome to work with after my interview for the position. As for the work… getting to be at the Summer Campferences and be a part of the tight knit communities that form at each program was an experience so incredible that I don’t think I could’ve imagined it beforehand. The work has been incredibly hands on and rewarding, which is rare to find in a summer internship!
2) Did this position give you a better understanding of how a small non-profit operates?
Definitely! Getting to be in the office each day and just hear the types of conversations, collaboration and planning that goes into every little detail has been a really informative experience. Though the work I did was program heavy, I still got to see glimpses of what goes on in regards to development, communication & outreach, and just all the administrative stuff – which was really interesting.
3) Over the course of the summer did you feel that you got a sense of what Next Step is and the work that we do with young adults?
Absolutely. In the beginning of the internship I heard a lot about what Next Step’s mission and process is, and then I actually got to see it play out during each Summer Campference – and in my opinion, everything that Next Step claims to do really works! Next Step creates a supportive and genuinely fun space that allows each participant to thrive on an individual level. I’m around the same age as all of the participants, so I know that all of the conversations and workshops that took place really do matter to young adults. I could tell how much having a community where everyone could be themselves and speak openly about their struggles and triumphs meant to these young adults, and I was so grateful to be a part of that.
4) In your opinion, why does Next Step work?
I spend pretty much all my time with people that are the same age as the young adults that participate in Next Step’s programs, and I can confidently say that Next Step works because of the participants. The participants really show up and are completely present in each Summer Campference – they bring the energy, the support and the vulnerability that makes the work possible. Next Step works because the staff has truly mastered setting all the bare bones in each community and then getting out of the way as quickly as possible so that the young people can take over the rest. The staff is still there to fill in the gaps, facilitate and support where needed – but the enthusiasm and effort of the participants are really what makes Next Step work.
5) Tell us about a special highlight for you this summer?
It’s hard to pick! I spent a fair amount of (maybe too much) time before the Summer Campferences building the “Wheel of Health” for our Friday morning workshops. The wheel was a little lopsided but it lasted through Face2Face and FaceForward, and it was fun to see that project of mine be a part of the shenanigans at each Summer Campference. When we pulled it out of the closet for One Love, the hot glue had not held up and the wheel was broken. One of the participants spent maybe 5 minutes trying to fix it and she got it to work better than it ever had before in those 5 minutes compared to the hours that I had spent putting it together, which was pretty funny and perfect in a lot of ways.