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Our EMERGE Interns Reflect on Their Summer at AV

As this year's class of interns approach the end of their time at Arnold Ventures, they talk about what they've learned and how their experiences are shaping plans for the future.

Each year, Arnold Ventures invites a group of interns to join us from the EMERGE Fellowship, a program that prepares high-performing students from underserved communities to attend select colleges across the country. Throughout the summer, our EMERGE interns are paired with staff members to gain experience in fields spanning from criminal justice research to policy advocacy. As this year's class of interns approach the end of their time at Arnold Ventures, they reflect on what they've learned and how their experiences are shaping plans for the future.

Andrea Escoto

This summer, Andrea has been working with the pretrial justice team researching the racial disparities that exist within warrants and summonses, as well as collecting data for a project examining nine prosecutor’s offices and their support, or lack thereof, regarding criminal justice reform.

A rising fourth year student at the University of Chicago, Andrea was hoping to attend law school after graduation. But after exploring evidence-based policy and speaking to AV employees who attended law school, Andrea says she has learned more about the various types of jobs involved in creating social change.

“While I thought I was sure I wanted to go to law school to practice law, I am now learning that there are many other ways to affect social change that can be done without a law degree,” Andrea says.

Although she is continuing to study for her LSAT this summer, alongside her work at Arnold Ventures, Andrea says she’s open to exploring other career paths.

“I learned from my time here at AV that I am more interested in evidence-based research and policy than I previously thought,” Andrea says. “Through my experience here and interactions with the work, I have realized how significant research is in the creation and implementation of effective and successful policy.”

Astrid Escobar

A rising fourth year student at the University of Virginia, Astrid studies youth and social innovation for a bachelor’s degree in education. She says her time at Arnold Ventures has shaped how she views policy in relation to her major.

“I am now considering just how important evidence-based policy is for my work in education policy and social innovation,” Astrid says. “The U.S. public education system is filled with programs and interventions that prove to be ineffective time and time again and, in some circumstances, have been detrimental to children’s learning. In an attempt to address inequality in education, it is important to keep effective interventions and policies.”

This summer, Astrid has been working with Director of New Programs Chris Hensman doing general research on affordable housing, as well as more specific research on evictions in mobile home parks. Although she didn’t enter Arnold Ventures with prior experience researching affordable housing, she says she’s found ties between the particular subject and her interest in education.

“I am also interested in the impact of housing insecurity and affordability on school-aged children as well as on their overall learning, since it is my personal focus area,” says Astrid.

Reflecting on her time at Arnold Ventures, Astrid is grateful to the people she’s worked with, particularly her supervisor and mentor, for making her experience a positive one.

“I want to take the time to thank Chris [Hensman], my supervisor, and Brontë [Forsgren], my AV mentor, for all of their dedication to me and my growth and for making me feel truly welcomed at AV,” says Astrid. “Outside of my work, I am so grateful to have the chance to work alongside other interns who are some of the brightest and most talented people I’ve ever come across. I am so grateful to have fostered friendships that I know will stay with me even after my time at AV has come to an end.”

Crystal Hernandez

This summer, Crystal has joined the Advocacy team to work on their recently-added immigration portfolio. For her project, she has been working on a strategy to bring Republicans and Democrats together to reform the immigration system in a bipartisan manner. Crystal says that since she's previously worked as part of partisan organizations, she has learned a lot from seeing how Arnold Ventures operates.

“Prior to this internship, most of my work involved action-oriented, nonprofit and grassroots work,” Crystal says. “It is a valuable experience to be able to see the contrast between a nonprofit and a large-scale organization that is involved in national conversations through funding research, and leading advocacy efforts for policy change.”

Crystal says that many of her standout experiences during her internship have involved interacting with people at Arnold Ventures — whether it be in casual moments at the coffee machine, or through AV's Virtual Coffee Chats program.

“I have really enjoyed and appreciated the Virtual Coffee Chats,” Crystal, a rising junior at Connecticut College, says. “The people at AV are always welcoming, enthusiastic, and honest when it comes to sharing career advice and professional trajectories.”

Along with career and policy takeaways, Crystal says spending time with her fellow interns has been a highlight of her experience.

"I have really enjoyed spending time with the AV interns! It has been great learning about our distinct college experiences and personalities," Crystal says. "It has been great to be able to interact with people close in age with similar social justice aspirations. We are definitely looking forward to extending our interaction beyond this internship!"

Daniel Garza

During his time on the criminal justice team at Arnold Ventures, Daniel has been tracking potential grants and working with presentations for board meetings. Another intern with his eye on practicing law, Daniel says that his time at Arnold Ventures — particularly his experiences speaking to other employees — has helped narrow down his interests.

“Prior to working at Arnold Ventures, I knew I wanted to be a lawyer though I had no idea what type of law I'd want to specialize in,” Daniel says. “My conversations with practicing and non-practicing attorneys at Arnold Ventures have helped me decide that I'd like to begin a career in corporate law and then potentially transition into public interest law.”

Despite not having formal academic background in public policy, Daniel says his work here has sparked an interest in the subject.

“This internship has led me to discover a personal interest in wanting to learn more about public policy,” Daniel says. “Arnold Ventures as an organization is policy driven, and I hope to continue learning about what this means across its different focus areas.”

Daniel says the people at Arnold Ventures have shaped his experience —from the people he meets with daily to those not on his team.

“I've come to appreciate the importance of networking with different professionals and organizations outside of my immediate team,” Daniel says. “Everyone at Arnold Ventures is passionate about what they do, and I enjoy being surrounded by people who are committed to making the world a better place.”

Grants

Arnold Ventures funds projects to understand problems and identify policy solutions.

Map of the U.S. made of Arnold Ventures icons