Giving Back: My Time Interning at an Enterprise Focusing on Normalizing Disability

"Community" is spelled out in individual letters on multi colored strips of paper pinned to wall.

Beauty Buzz/Blog Biz | My Time Interning…

Contents:

Editor’s Note

Bold Blind Beauty literally struck gold when taking our three summer interns on board. We set out to give the interns meaningful work experience and transferrable skills they can use going forward in their careers. Each of the interns are impressive as individuals and as a group dynamic.

Christine Bharosi, the author of this piece, is an intellectual self-starter who is a joy to work with. Another outstanding trait of Christine’s that I found very appealing is her resoursefulness. Time and time again she would share new tips and methods on how to streamline a task or process.

Since Christine’s time with Bold Blind Beauty is drawing to an end, I asked her to share what it was like interning with us. She does not disappoint. I hope you enjoy her piece! ~Steph

Giving Back: My Time Interning at an Enterprise Focusing on Normalizing Disability

By: Christine Bharosi

Bright multi colored handprints on a white background represent community.

Over the summer of 2021, I, a 23-year-old legally blind college graduate, decided to gain some work experience while giving back to a community I largely took a passive role in. Through a friend and past employer, I was introduced to Bold Blind Beauty, a small business enterprise with big ambitions.

After a fabulous interview with the founder of Bold Blind Beauty, Stephanae McCoy, and a great phone interview with their Chief Communications Officer, Nasreen Bhutta, my internship was well underway. Once we all worked out the details and took care of the paperwork, all that was left was to get excited! 

New Challenges and New Friends!

Athletes in a crew rowboat mid stroke.

My internship with Bold Blind Beauty was fully remote due to the pandemic. The good news was that I could do the majority of my work in pajamas! However, even remote work presents new challenges. One of the major challenges was not having everyone in one place to discuss projects and plans of action. Another major challenge with remote work, in general, is being at the mercy of technological issues. Nevertheless, the show must go on.

In the beginning, all of us at Bold Blind Beauty were getting our bearings. There were a lot of meetings just getting to know everyone and their capabilities, with the added bonus of everyone being affected by sight loss in some way. 

The meetings were productive and had a relaxed yet structured vibe. Everyone spoke about what they wanted to accomplish and the skills they either wanted to improve or get exposed to. For me, I was given some administrative tasks such as database and resource management. I felt that it was a good way to get into the swing of things.

During one of the meetings, I was introduced to two other interns, Ryan and Marta. Imagine my excitement when I found out they were also students close to my age range and also had some sight loss! Shortly after our introductory meeting, I reached out to both of them via email and asked for their phone numbers to create a group chat. Throughout my time at Bold Blind Beauty, group chats were pivotal to keep everyone on the same page.

Teamwork Makes the Dream Work

A 3d render of a glass lightbulb. The lightbulb is standing upright on a plain white background with the word "Strategy" written on the bulb.

After creating the group chat with Marta and Ryan, we now had a consistent line of communication with each other. In the beginning, we used it as a way to get to know each other. We talked about school, how we got the internship with Bold Blind Beauty, and what our plans beyond our internship were going to be. Surprisingly, the topic of vision loss never came up between us because we all understood that we were capable individuals. 

As we all began to get comfortable in our roles, Nasreen and Steph started to give us various projects. They wanted to challenge us and get us out of our comfort zone. We were involved with things like social media campaigns, panel discussions, and even podcasts! All of our projects revolved around shining light on topics like disability inclusion and the intersectionality of marginalized communities. It was a wonderful way to share and learn new perspectives.

Before our small team started a new project, we would all meet on Zoom to discuss what the outcome would be. The other interns and I would then work backward. We’d put our heads together in the group chat and just pass ideas back and forth until we came up with a plan that everyone was happy with. This strategy was mostly used for the Bold Blind Beauty On A.I.R. podcast. One of our many projects was to find and interview a guest for an episode. The other interns and I were given the topic of disability struggles in higher education, and a deadline to find a guest who matched our criteria. 

At first, we panicked because we couldn’t think of anyone off the tops of our heads. Then, one of us mentioned a mutual friend who had just completed her Bachelor’s in English. She fit our criteria perfectly and she was in the same age group as us! We pitched the idea to Nasreen and Steph, who were immediately on board, and after setting up a recording date, everything was ready to go!

The recording session went fabulously! Our conversation around disability struggles in college was so fluid and natural that we all forgot that we were recording a show! It was so nice to just get everything out there in a productive space, and we covered all the topics we thought were important. If you’re curious about what we all talked about, the link for the podcast episode can be found here: Episode 7. It was something everyone was proud of and it did really well online, too!

Another project in which the other interns and I used this “work backward” strategy was during Bold Blind Beauty’s collaboration with Anthony Corona from ACB (American Council for the Blind) and BPI (Blind Pride International). Steph and Nasreen introduced us to him and mentioned that he wanted to have all of us on his podcast. We were given a main goal: to discuss attitudes towards the disability and LGBTQ+ communities, and whether or not those attitudes have improved as time went on.

Ryan, Marta, and I then went to work establishing a direct connection with Anthony to get a better idea of what the segment would be about. We set up a zoom meeting and got a list of questions to base our answers on. Before the recording session, the other interns and I would get on Facetime to rehearse and share our thoughts on the topic we’d be covering. It was a good way for all of us to get to know each other and the space was always safe and productive. Needless to say, our recording session with Anthony was an insightful success.

A Major Lesson I Learned in Closing

Young female hiker helping a friend while trekking in the mountains.

As of writing this, my internship with Bold Blind Beauty is coming to a close, with my last day being this Friday. As I reflect, one lesson that stands out to me is the difference between a manager versus being a leader. My internship was remote and was one of the pilots of Bold Blind Beauty’s Virtual Work Experience Initiatives.

One of the challenges of a remote internship is keeping everyone together and on task during projects. After making the group chat with the other interns, I took on the role of team captain. In the beginning, we were all a little awkward, but over time we began to feel more comfortable with each other.

I wanted our group chat to be relaxed and have the energy of some friends working together to get things done. I think incorporating humor (and emojis) in my messages and giving constructive criticism and advice helped to set the tone of our team. Pretty soon we all were making jokes and supporting each other’s work. We all made and contributed to a safe space to share ideas and works.

One thing I struggled with while being team captain was the apprehension of overstepping my boundaries. The last thing I wanted to be was a micromanager, especially to young adults. These were people who had their own ideas and creativity, and I didn’t want to step on that if I could help it.

However, I learned over time that delivery and tone are very important when it comes to communicating with people. Before any of us would submit material for a project, we would post a draft of it in the group chat and ask what the others thought. If corrections needed to be made, we’d ask for access to the material and make whatever edits were necessary. Afterward, we would post the new item in chat and if everything looked good, we would post it. This was how we worked: a constant back and forth to improve on things until they were perfect. This workflow was how all of our projects were successful.

As I’m transitioning out of the company, it makes me really happy to see Ryan and Marta, the other interns I was working with, grow more comfortable with their capabilities and skills. I’m also really happy that Nasreen and Steph also saw my leadership skills, but also that they could see that my leadership was helping people grow (and glow!) instead of putting them down.

In psychology, reinforcement is the queue that people and animals use to either change negative behaviors or keep positive behaviors. This is why the delivery of feedback is so important because if a person perceives that feedback as negative, they’re less likely to feel confident in their contributions, which doesn’t help anyone in the long run.

There’s also a saying that I think sums up the environment everyone at Bold Blind Beauty had:

“A rising tide lifts all ships.”

Everyone knew that the team did better when we all worked together and that if any of us were struggling, it was better to help them up than keep them down.

Of course, I learned a lot of other valuable skills too, such as data mining and database upkeep, running social media campaigns, and contributing to podcasts and articles. All while advocating for disability inclusion and destigmatization. I’m really looking forward to what Bold Blind Beauty has in store next and I hope to continue to support them!

Connecting With Christine

Image Descriptions:

  • In the header the word “Community” is spelled out in individual letters on multi colored strips of paper pinned to wall.
  • Bright multi colored handprints on a white background represent community.
  • Athletes in a crew rowboat mid stroke.
  • A 3d render of a glass lightbulb. The lightbulb is standing upright on a plain white background with the word “Strategy” written on the bulb.
  • Young female hiker helping a friend while trekking in the mountains.

1 Comment

Comments are closed.

0

Your Cart