Intern-views: Shannon Smith

Meet the summer interns at the Women and Girls Foundation! We have some amazing women working here this summer – read on to find out more about our intern Shannon Smith.
Shannon SmithWGF: How did you get involved with the Women and Girls Foundation?
SS: I was at a networking event in Washington, D.C. and ran into a colleague who had previously interned at WGF.  She spoke very highly of the organization and told me it would be a perfect fit for my interests in women’s rights and public policy.  On the bus ride home to Pittsburgh, I sent in my resume and application to be an intern at WGF.  I was thrilled to be hired and have been here since January!
WGF: Tell us about your educational/social activism/personal background.
SS: I graduated from Duquesne University in 2014 with a double major in Political Science and History and a minor in German.  I am going into my second year of graduate school at Carnegie Mellon’s Heinz College and will be receiving my Master of Public Policy and Management in May 2016.  My first experience with social activism was probably when I chaired my high school’s student advocacy committee as part of student government.  It was then that I realized if you have a change you wish to see, you have to be willing to speak up and advocate for the difference you or your peers want to make.
WGF: What are you working on for WGF?
SS: I primarily work with the GirlGov program at WGF under the direction of Program Manager Blayre Holmes.  My main responsibilities include data management, building and analyzing content on our mobile app, and outreach to our 100 GirlGov participants and the 50 legislators and their staff involved in the program.  One specific project I worked on for the trip was preparing and making a presentation to the girls on the state budget.  Now that the trip is over, I am currently working on compiling statistics from the surveys we conducted to evaluate what the girls learned about state government, the women’s rights movement, and their likelihood to be involved in advocacy in their schools or communities.
WGF: What is your favorite part of the job?
SS: My favorite part of the job is absolutely the wonderful women I get to work with.  Heather, Tara, Blayre and Stephanie are all excellent role models and mentors and you couldn’t ask for four better people to run this organization.  I have learned a great deal from them about advocacy, policy, and program management.  I’m also very thankful that they enable me to have opportunities to attend meetings and events around Pittsburgh and help with various projects in the office relating to local and national women and girls issues.
WGF: What is the most rewarding thing you have worked on in your career so far?
SS: The GirlGov Harrisburg trip has definitely been the most rewarding project I have worked on.  The months of preparation that went into the trip involved a lot of coordination and communication in order for everything to come together for four days in June.  The most rewarding aspect though was feeling the positive energy on the trip and hearing how passionate and outspoken these girls were and knowing that we helped bring them together.
WGF: If you could resolve one world issue, what would it be?
SS: Education is fundamental for intellectual and social development but is inaccessible for millions of children worldwide.  If I could, I would resolve the situation of education in the world so that every child has access regardless of sex, health, ethnic origin, language, religion, economic status, or any other factor that may prevent a child from obtaining a fair education.  I would help countries with receiving the necessary financial and material resources, recruiting and training teachers, and establishing education systems that allow every child to benefit from schools that can be adapted to their abilities and needs.
WGF: Do you have any advice for young people who want to make change but don’t know where to start?
SS: Be open to any opportunity that comes your way and always look for something new to add to your skillset.  My first internship in college was with the U.S. Commercial Service of the International Trade Administration.  I had never taken a business course and I knew little about export regulations but I still applied for the position.  I gained important experience in market research and policy implementation which I was then able to use in my next internship with Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner.  I started to build a toolbox of skills I knew were imperative for making change and also a network of people I felt comfortable with asking questions to and guiding me in the right direction.
WGF: What is your favorite food?
SS: Anything and everything on a Thanksgiving dinner table.