Guest post by Mackenzie Winterowd, Intern, Fall 2014
My name is Mackenzie Winterowd and I am a Communications and Social Media Intern for the American Red Cross Serving Central Texas. I began my internship with the Red Cross in May of 2014 and what an experience it has been! I decided to apply for the Red Cross internship last summer, knowing that some experience working in an office environment for well-known national brand would give me a leg up in the job market after graduation from Texas State. I have worked for a large grocery store for more than four years and, even though I have learned valuable lessons there, nothing compares to what I have learned at the Red Cross.
Before I could begin my first day, I had to complete an online orientation in which I learned about the creation of the National Red Cross in Europe by Henry Dunant and the foundation of the organization in the United States in 1881 by Clara Barton. After a history lesson, I learned of all that the Red Cross does to help locally and worldwide. I remember thinking to myself that if I were to be tested on all of this that there was no way I would pass.
The first few weeks of my internship were quite overwhelming. I was confused by acronyms, names, all of the different positions, and trying to learn the office culture. It amazed me how much everyone at the Central Texas chapter did and how much cooperation it takes to successfully complete a task. A victory for one is a victory for all. In order for the Red Cross to successfully fulfill its mission, everyone has to be on the same page. We have to be unified and consistent, and, above all, we must keep the mission in mind: helping alleviate human suffering in the face of emergencies.
I have also learned from my Red Cross colleagues how important it is to continue to carry your humanity and common sense with you, even when you have a job to do under tight deadlines. I learned to put myself in the place of the individuals we are helping and always put them first.
One of the biggest differences I noticed in my non-profit experience with the Red Cross versus my experience at a large corporations is that my Red Cross colleagues excel at balancing care and compassion with efficiency – finding new and creative ways to get the job done under stressful conditions, and still help our clients in a friendly and human way. That is the basis of the organization. We were begun by a woman who was so moved and distraught with what she saw going on in her own country during the Civil War, she created a way to help. Her dream has become a legacy. Now, we are able to help people worldwide because of the care and compassion of those who donate. It is a giving circle. You help us so we can continue to help others.
I have been fortunate to see this circle in action. I was lucky enough to volunteer at fundraising events such as a Service to the Armed Forces reception in Dripping Springs and The Night of 50,000 Lives in Austin. Night of 50,000 lives enabled us to raise more than $50,000 and provide vaccinations to children who are not otherwise able to receive the measles and rubella vaccine.
Unfortunately, my internship is ending in December. This is an experience I will greatly miss and would not trade it for anything. I made videos, wrote blog articles and press releases, managed social media, and learned so much!
To the Red Cross volunteers and staff members who mentored and inspired me, know that you all hold a dear place in my heart. Thanks for all of the memories, laughs, and most of all, for such a grand adventure!