Volunteering Takes the Helm: Social Media
With no plans for my summer break last year, I browsed volunteer positions online and came across something that caught my eye: “Social Media and Photography Intern for the
Marine Science Institute Summer Camp.” A hobby of mine, multimedia was first introduced as video editing to me in middle school, and over time, I became interested in photography and graphics design. I previously planned on applying to another internship, but had no luck. Nervous and unsure of what to say, I dialed the number listed, and after a short and casual conversation, my worries went away and I saw myself working in the position. I asked about the application process. The simple reply was, “You can drop by this Tuesday.”
I met Tiff, MSI’s community outreach coordinator, and began on Thursday of the same week. On my first day, she went through my basic responsibilities, from filtering hundreds of camp photos to designing group shots for the weekly slideshow. Then she introduced me to something she always wanted to promote: the Institute's Instagram page.
My first post was a picture of turtle and the caption was a fun fact about why sea turtles “cry.” Personally, I had just began using Instagram myself, so I didn’t have too much of a clue of what to do. But when I uploaded the first image, I felt the same indescribable rush of excitement and potential that I felt when I first began playing around on Windows Movie Maker in eighth grade. I began scribbling down ideas. I drew up a weekly schedule and also a chart to keep track of my ideas. For the first week or so, I did as much research as I could on social media and how to use it for nonprofit organizations and summer camps, specifically. “Post every day and have some important hashtags,” the websites would say; but, it was harder said than done.
Initially, I sat in the office trying to come up with a plan. Once I had a basic layout, I jumped into the middle of camp. Inspired by all the motion and action around me, I began taking pictures and videos: time-lapses of the rising tide, snapshots of volunteers helping out during the rather chaotic morning check-ins and afternoon check-outs, and photos of the campers on the field trips to the beach and the bay. Always in my pocket was a camera, ready to capture the scene before me.
Near the end of my time onsite, since school was about to start, I decided to start a project on my own, to design a social media poster. Using the idea of a fish bowl and details like the Robert G. Brownlee (#bigblueboat) and the MSI social media fish, I drew and made the poster. As I looked at the final product, fully printed and laminated, I was happy for all the fun memories and sad that the summer was drawing to a close.
To me, last summer was one of the best and most memorable ones I had. I had a great time each day of camp with my two friends from school and the new ones I met during camp. I’m grateful for the opportunity Tiff had given me because the internship provided me the freedom to learn new things, from photography experience to communication skills (she helped me notice my tendency to use the word “like” when talking). Watching the Instagram page expand boosted my self-confidence and also my appreciation for the San Francisco Bay, as I enjoyed promoting awareness, respect, and love for the diverse nature of the area. Not only did I grow as an artist, I grew as an individual.