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National Volunteer Month Spotlight: Sydney Schultz

Sydney Schultz, an International Studies major at Pepperdine University and CIANA’s Digital Communications Intern, has been helping provide clients with resources and information to help navigate the pandemic since January 2021.

What made you want to intern with CIANA, and particularly in Communications?

As soon as I saw this internship opportunity to help integrate new Americans, I knew it would be a perfect fit. I absolutely love engaging with diverse populations and since the COVID-19 pandemic made this internship online, it was possible for me to support CIANA’s mission even from out-of-state.

The Communications experience has been a great combination of applying my advocacy background into the digital publications sphere to serve our clients. Each day, I am constantly learning about what resources are needed in the Queens immigrant community, and how to best communicate with these individuals. The skills and knowledge I have gained from this work will definitely help me as I pursue similar fields after graduation. Interning, especially in this field and with CIANA, is so rewarding because I can serve others, which I am committed to doing in the future.

What are your relationships like with the people you’re working with?

I’ve truly enjoyed working with such driven individuals, who are unified around the cause of serving immigrants. The staff, even virtually, have been very welcoming and provide insight to continually improve my skills and give me new challenges to dive into. And in each interaction with community partners, I am compelled by the amount of support and passion that they have to further our collective missions and create the best environment for immigrant New Yorkers.

What are your favorite parts about your internship?

One of my favorite things about this internship is how many opportunities there are to share ideas and tackle different projects each day. Through drafting social media posts, I get to learn a lot about a multitude of subjects as well. All this new insight is inspiring me to seek new answers and fill in resource gaps for our clients. Plus, seeing the success stories is always so enlightening!

What were some challenging moments that you experienced during your internship?

Learning best practices for Communications has been the biggest challenge for me, but also the biggest asset that I’ll leave with. I’ve graciously been taught so much about messaging, formatting, graphics, etc. that I didn’t know or even think about prior, which I can now incorporate into my future work. While the initial learning curve was perhaps the biggest challenge, guidance from my supervisor and the ability for us to collaborate has allowed me to feel like my work is constantly improving!

Is there any particular skill that you’ll take with you beyond your internship?

From all of the public facing outreach that we do, it’s become more apparent to me how there is still so much to advocate for and change, even though there is great work currently being done. The biggest skill that I’m learning is how to create solutions for community needs and recognize the best way to get our messaging across to gain further support.

Do you have any advice for people looking to get involved in community-based volunteer work?

I would say that if someone is interested, now is the time to get volunteering as so many virtual options are available. I wouldn’t have dreamed of having the chance to serve with CIANA one year ago, but here I am! There isn’t a “perfect” time to start being involved, as everyone has unique skills and backgrounds that they can bring to volunteer opportunities at any time.

Additionally, since sometimes the time commitment can be daunting, I’d also recommend looking into the range of positions and services seeking help. Whether you have 1 hour a week or 40, you can make a huge difference and might be the ideal fit for an organization looking for help.


CIANA is so grateful for the hard work, inspiration, and enthusiasm Sydney brings to the Communications Team. We don’t know what we’d do without her!

Stay tuned for more features this month!


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