Community Engagement Intern, Pollen Midwest
Since I’ve been interning at Pollen, one of the most common questions I’ve gotten from friends, family, and networking contacts is “so, what does Pollen do?” The short answer: A lot.
More specifically, I’m often asked about the role of the Opportunities board in Pollen’s overall work–a question many Pollenites have no doubt wondered about too.
On the face of it, it may seem strange for a media arts organization to host a jobs board. But Pollen has never strictly been a media arts organization–or any single kind of organization–and opportunity-sharing has always been a part of Pollen’s mission.
Long before my time here, Pollen began as a networking newsletter that brought together people from across sectors with an interest in community and connection. Over time, the Pollenite community grew and eventually (I’m skipping quite a few steps here, of course) became the Pollen you know today, with our stories, events, and design work.
In all that we do, Pollen strives to uplift the changemakers in our community and beyond. We know there are yet more changemakers waiting in the wings who still need time, resources, or connections in order to have their world-shaking potential realized.
One way that Pollen thinks of opportunities is as jobs that can change people’s lives. To me, this means jobs that make you feel good about working but that also respect your need to be a person outside of work. This means jobs that bring you closer to your community and to your goals. If you’re leaving a job that helped you live your values, send it our way–that’s an opportunity.
Of course, we know that we don’t always know what jobs will be life-changing, so we work hard to balance our vision with an openness to a variety of roles and industries. Maybe the job that changes your life is something as simple as the job that lets you leave work at work and have enough money to pursue your passions outside of paid employment.
Perhaps the most visible connection between Pollen’s narrative work and the Opportunities board is the related opportunities we highlight at the bottom of our stories.
We believe that stories can change the world, but not on their own. True transformation will take the time and energy of so many people who can work, advise, volunteer, create, and show up to dismantle the web of injustices we face.
We also know that people in our community need to be able to support themselves. People need money, and healthcare, and a sense of stability. Providing a jobs board with salary transparency and paid internships (did you know that everything we list in the “Internships” category is paid?!), is an extension of our mission just as much as our editorial work, events, and Pollen Studio.
Pollen has always worked to be a network of networks–the ones who make connections with all different communities so we can then make connections between them–and the Opportunities board is a crucial part of that. Just as our stories work to connect new audiences and supporters to people, groups, and ideas, our job and event listings provide further chances for connection.
At Pollen, the Opportunities board is entirely run by an intern–at the moment, me! From an intern’s perspective, this is a great way to get experience having ownership of a project in a way that few other positions offer. From the organization’s perspective, this setup keeps fresh eyes and voices coming in periodically, and bringing their own connections and experiences into the work–in my case, I’ve tried to highlight jobs and organizations for and by Disabled people, as well as events, grants, and submission opportunities for writers.
In my time here, I’ve helped with a couple big projects related to the Opportunities board–our salary transparency initiative and more recently, our revamp of promoted opportunity benefits. In addition to this big-picture work, much of my time is spent on the individual opportunities themselves. I personally review, copyedit, and format each submission for the Pollen website before publishing them, and handle all the promotion for paid submissions.
Maintaining the Opportunities board is a lot of work, but we continue to invest time and energy in it because it’s a place where we can make a concrete, if small, difference every day. Our push for salary transparency is a more systemic example of this, but even something as simple as connecting someone to a job, event, or volunteer gig that will change their life–or at least their weekend–is what Pollen is all about.