Tutor/Mentor Connection

Connect knowledge, volunteers, youth and make a difference.

Part I – Learning Question

In December of 2009 I started my internship at Cabrini Connections, Tutor/Mentor Connection, a non-profit organization which helps the well-being of students living in low-income housing. My purpose at this organization was to help promote Cabrini Connections, Tutor/Mentor Connection through different social media venues. At the beginning of this internship I came up with a question that through the duration of this internship I have been seeking an answer for. The question, how to unleash one's personal power to change the world through social media, has been discovered through research and an interview with Dan Bassill, the founder and CEO of CC/TMC.

It is interesting to note that many companies like CNN focus on the effectiveness of a story whereas other companies started to focus their time and energy on something else. We the people hold the key. And Google made a smart bet and they bet on the people, which is what other organizations should have done. “During the attacks in Mumbai, people were tweeting it live, from the lobby of the hotel” (Social Good through Social Media). The news was being delivered, in real time, by the people. This represents the most seismic shift in the history of media and possibly business. There are no more gatekeepers. Social media gives people like you and me the power to let our voices shine, how incredible is that.

Organizations like Cabrini Connections were built by innovative visionaries like those who work at Google who can in vision something being taken to the next step, Dan Bassill states, “I view it as a passion for building a better system for helping kids from poverty have lives out of poverty. Such a goal provides a better world for my own children and grandchildren to grow up in. If we don’t do all we can now to shape the future, the future that comes may be impossible to change.” Through many non-profit organizations I have come to find that they all acknowledge that change needs to start now for a better future. But how are these messages being heard? The social media realm is being used as a powerful agent that is connecting people all over the world together. Social media is quickly becoming the “it” place to advertise and promote companies/organizations as it is cost-effective (it is free!), easy to access, and can target multiple age groups at a time.

Social media is arguably the most perfect and pervasive form of marketing in human history. It is a convergence of the best of both worlds: connecting “one-to-one” via “many-to-many. It has become apparent however that some organizations blatantly avoid using social media as a promotional tool due to the lack of knowledge of it as a whole. These companies either don’t understand it because the technology is so new or they don’t think it is worthwhile. You could say that is comparable to walking away from a loaded gold mine, because you can’t open the front door, it’s pathetic and lazy. What are these organizations waiting for? It is clear that since these organizations are not engaging with their current customers and reaching new markets through social media, their brand is being left behind at an increasingly accelerative rate (Social Good through Social Media). The organizations who deliberately avoid social media will soon come to find that social media sites are imperative to the success of a company as information can be spread at higher rates through these sites.

Organizations such as Cabrini Connections, Tutor/Mentor Connection do not have the funding to promote through other forms of media like commercials, billboards, etc. To be able to spread their message they focus heavily on promoting through word of mouth, their websites, and social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and various blogs. They also try to enlist others to carry out Cabrini’s message in their media, for example “for many years the Lend A Hand Program at the Chicago Bar Association promoted Tutor/Mentor Connection as part of their own commitment to help tutor/mentor programs grow. If you visit at http://www.tutormentorexchange.net and go to the leadership articles you will see many examples of how Cabrini Connections, Tutor/Mentor Connection hopes how others will communicate their message. By getting others to spread the word about Cabrini Connections time, effort, and money are being saved by the staff to ensure that the majority if not all of the funds being raised are being allocated to benefit the students.

Anyone and everyone have the ability and power to change the world. One just needs to know how to focus their gifts and talents in a way that can grab the attention of others. Eric Harr, Founder and President of LLC said it best, “Social media is social, but it’s not a media. The recipe for success — and most brands miss the mark here — is one part listening, one part engaging, and two parts building relationships. (A dash of spice always helps!)” The Internet has become an extraordinary tool. It enables individuals to share their ideas with the world. It allows other people to find us, who already share the same goals. It enables us to find talent and resources from far beyond our own family, community, city boundaries. If your ideas are good enough, expressed well enough, and communicated often enough to a growing number of people, they can change the way other people understand and respond to the issues you are passionate about.
Part II – Individual Assessment

Preparation

Since my internship was based primarily on my writing skills and promotional skills classes that required intensive writing, advertising and Public Relations helped. Classes in particular like UCWR 110, CMUN 265, CMUN 250, CMUN 224, MARK 361 and CMUN 271 not only gave me the skills to write more effectively but taught me how to send out my message into different avenues to get the maximum viewing potential. These classes gave me the skills to be able to write in a way that helped Cabrini Connections, Tutor/Mentor Connection get in the spotlight, allowing them in the future to be able to receive more donations. Classes such as 271 taught me how to create a blog, which became beneficial to me since I blogged about the organization throughout my entire internship. These classes taught me how to capitalize on relationships and brand myself as efficiently and professionally as possible. By branding myself into the person I want people to see me as I noticed I could better sell the organization, Cabrini Connections, Tutor/Mentor Connection. The skills I learned especially in these six classes gave me the essentials I needed for this internship.

Knowledge and Skills

I believe that everything I learned in this internship was beneficial. I do however know that the most important thing I learned through the duration of this internship was how important it is to write an effective blog. In the beginning of my internship I wrote blogs that were average and not interesting to read as a result no one was reading them. I was writing for Cabrini Connections, Tutor/Mentor Connection in hopes that people would latch on to them and want to help out with the cause but it seemed hopeless, I would check the analytics of my blog and I noticed that they were not being viewed. After analyzing my blogs and realizing that they were not as engaging as I’d hope they would be I decided to change my writing style. Instead of just writing about the organization itself I started to incorporate day to day events that were happening and correlated them back to Cabrini Connections. Once I started to write more engaging, thought-provoking articles my traffic for my blogs went up, almost doubled what it was in the beginning. It was exactly what I needed to do to start making a difference at Cabrini Connections. Ultimately, I did what I was set out to do at Cabrini Connections, make the organization more well-known by spreading the word through social media networks.

Another valuable thing that I learned while interning at Cabrini Connections was the struggles it takes to help start a non-profit organization. It is more in-depth and time consuming that I thought it would be. What I found to be spectacular is that the organization did not start with a business plan or any kind of dedicated funding; instead, Dan Bassill saw a need and found people who felt compelled to make a difference in the world to help him start up his vision. From there people just jumped in, doing what needed to be done each day, every day since then. His story and the story of Cabrini Connections, Tutor/Mentor Connection is truly an inspirational one that makes me feel compelled and optimistic that if I follow my dreams they will become true. Also, as a result of this organization I want to do more things that I believe will be beneficial towards others.

Integration

Though my ideal future career is not with a non-profit organization I still learned an immense amount of information through the duration of my internship here at Cabrini Connections, Tutor/Mentor Connection. During the 14 week period I was at Cabrini Connections I learned extensively about social media tactics, how to write an effective blog, and how to spread a message through multiple venues at any given time. I want to eventually become an event planner and that means not only will I have to be extremely organized but that I’ll have to be good at spreading the knowledge of the event and being able to promote it in a way that seems appealing to my target audiences. The success of an event rides a lot on the effectiveness of how the event was promoted. This is why I am grateful to all who work at Cabrini Connections who have given me the knowledge of how to effectively promote an event and to spread the word of a wonderful organization like Cabrini Connections. I now know, as a result of interning at Cabrini Connections that I will be fully prepared to handle whatever lies ahead in the rest of my career here at Loyola and in my future career in event planning.

What I found to be most beneficial to me during my internship was that I was taught how to successfully promote. I have found which social media networks are most effective in getting a higher volume of audience participation while also figuring out how to write in a manner that gets peoples’ attention. Social media is a new field in the market place today so knowing how to use the tactics appropriately is imperative and will be necessary for me in my career later on. As a result of its newness, many who have been in the Public Relations field for several years do not know how to effectively promote on these sites. Thankfully, people such as Dan Bassill and other Cabrini Connections staff knew how use social media successfully so that I was able to learn the trade and be able to fully promote my companies events in the future. I will be successful in my future job as a result of the tactics and procedures I have learned during this internship.

Evaluation

Being a full time student and having what I would consider a part time job is not a simple task, as a result, I would say my overall performance would be excellent. Though in the beginning I did not write blogs that were intriguing to the public’s eye I quickly made a change in my writing style to fix that. I quickly obtained a full knowledge and awareness of what was going on within Cabrini Connections, Tutor/Mentor Connection and used their mission statement (engage workplace adults in structured activities that make a life-changing difference for youth living in economically and educationally disadvantaged neighborhoods) as a basis for all of my blogs. Working at Cabrini Connections was such a pleasant experience and I truly enjoyed coming into work every day because though I didn’t work with anyone when I saw other employees they were always happy.

Throughout the 14 week duration everyone at Cabrini Connections became like family, just like with my own family, if I knew I was going to be late I would contact Dan Bassill, the CEO and founder of the organization to let him know. I also tried to please my Cabrini Connections family by setting goals and expectations for myself that could make a difference within the organization. At the end of my 14 week term I not only helped fundraise for the organization but I also got people to help volunteer their time to help the students of Cabrini Connections, Tutor/Mentor Connection. I fully enjoyed interning at Cabrini Connections and I plan on continuing to write blogs for them in the future.

Bibliography

"Social Good through Social Media." Eric Harr Social Media. Web. 17 Mar. 2010. a href="http://ehsm.tumblr.com/%3E">http://ehsm.tumblr.com/>;.

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Comment by Daniel Bassill on April 28, 2010 at 5:46pm
Thank you for sharing, and for learning, with us. The real power of your writing will be demonstrated by how one, or more future interns from Loyola and other colleges, or high schools, follow you in this role, and learn their jobs by reading your blogs. Please continue to contribute to this blog as you move through school and into your work. Each year you will see more people responding to what you write because your passion for helping others will be fueled by more personal experience, and by more frustration at how slow change comes.

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