Communications is More than Social Media: An Interview with Edinam Eshietedoho

Communications Intern Edinam Eshietedoho in Athens Square, Astoria. Photo: Maria Eliades

CIANA’s Summer 2019 Communications Intern, Edinam Eshietedoho, grew up in South Florida and goes to Pomona College in California, but he was eager to get a New York City experience in the non-profit sector, so he came to CIANA. Maria Eliades, CIANA’s Director of Development and Communications, chats with Edinam about his work at CIANA, the importance of non-profits working with immigrants, and how communications is more than just tweeting.

Maria Eliades: So I know you’re not from New York. Did you come here specifically with the intention of interning for an organization like ours?

Edinam Eshietedoho: Last summer I was in New York for a bit working a government office job, and I really wanted to work at a non-profit with something I could tangibly feel connected to. With my last job, I was doing marketing and digital work, but I didn’t get to see the impact of it or get to work on my own. That’s what I was looking for this summer, and I thought this internship at CIANA was a great opportunity.

ME: Remind me where you were working?

EE: At USTA -the US Tennis Association. I was the digital partnerships and strategy intern. I was up in Westchester, which is not really in the city, so I really wanted something close to the city as well. It’s nice that CIANA is very centrally located here in Astoria. Before this summer I’d never been to Queens. So that was also a really good part of the work.

ME: How do you feel your work has had an impact on the community?

EE: You can still make an impact even with an organization that doesn’t look that big with a social media presence like CIANA’s. So I was very happy to be able to create an infographic and work with other teams to get that translated. Putting out information like that out there is really important for these communities being targeted at this time. So I was really happy with the work I was doing.

Even aside from the social media, being in this office and interacting with immigrants on the regular drove in that these are real human beings who really enjoy person-to-person communication. I think in that way too I was just a good, smiling face to have around the office.

ME: The official smiling face. It is definitely a great part of working with you.

EE: I try to keep morale up.

ME: It’s good. Of everything you’ve done, what’s been your favorite assignment?

EE: Making the Instagram story for Know Your Rights and the big infographic for Know Your Rights. I had an inkling before working on this Instagram story what goes into making one, but I did not know how much precision and how tedious and painstaking all of that is. It was fun, and a great experience to have. With the infographic, it was fun using Canva and Photoshop, and fleshing out using all these tools and products to create a product.

CIANA's interns are a key part of everything CIANA does. Above is the Know Your Rights Flyer Eshietedoho created, drawing on CIANA's expertise in giving Know Your Rights workshops.

ME: Was it your first time using Canva?

EE: No, but I hadn’t used it as extensively as I did here, so it was good to get more familiar with it. I know a lot of people in non-profits use Canva a lot, so it was good to learn my way around it.

ME: What are you going to miss about working at CIANA and/or about being in New York City?

EE: I really enjoy the atmosphere at CIANA because it’s very homey and comfortable. I enjoy all the personalities in the office. I’m very much a people person, so interacting with Joe, the chief of staff; or even Olivia, the AmeriCorps VISTA Volunteer Coordinator; you; and everybody else I’ve interacted with I’ve had a great experience. It really makes the job that much more fun. Feeling like you’re a part of the family in being at CIANA is nice.

Freedom is what I look at New York as. Where I’m from in South Florida, we don’t have as many things to do, so being able to walk out and just go anywhere is revolutionary. At home, I would have to catch one bus to go to the mall that didn’t even stop next to the mall. There’s no real public transit set up over there, so just having that mobility, that freedom, I’ll miss that.

ME: How has working here helped you with your career goals and where you see yourself in the future?

EE: I think the internship has helped me get a clear understanding, if I decide to be a social media manager or communications manager, what it entails and it expanded what I thought it would be. Communications is more so what I feel I took away from this internship. There’s a lot of parts to that other than just going on Twitter and sending a tweet. There’s a lot of thought and planning that goes into it. I was glad to get that experience.

I see myself doing more of what we do here in the future. I really like working with social media and I’d want to produce more content, like more digital content.

ME: Would you work for another non-profit?

EE: Definitely! I feel with now having these two internships under my belt, I would want to continue to see myself grow. I don’t see as much room for growth in a government department.

I guess it’s a double-edged sword. In the non-profit sector you have to be able to pick up on things that are not necessarily part of your job description, so you have to have that adaptability. It’s a skill that’s important and that I want to keep on developing. But also, non-profits -I don’t want to generalize too much - but I think you feel a real genuine connection to the work you do. You usually have a personal stake in the game. You’re closer to the source that your work is going towards. It’s not some abstract idea. It’s grounded in humanity and people. I really see myself continuing to do that work.

And I think CIANA is doing such an important job right now and I want to see that it keeps growing and continuing after I leave. Because if not you guys, then who? So thank you to CIANA.

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