Each semester, JDRF Advocacy has between two and four interns working with us, learning how to advocate daily for type 1 diabetes (T1D) research. As the Spring 2014 semester comes to a close, we are preparing to say goodbye to our current interns, but not before we ask them to reflect on their time with us. Meet Sean, an American University student and a member of Delta Tau Delta, JDRF’s fraternity partner. Take it away Sean:
My time at JDRF Advocacy has been unlike interning for any other organization. I have not only gained professional experience in a positive and supportive environment, but I have been able to advocate for a cause I strongly believe in, a cause that benefits millions of Americans every day.
Coming into the internship, I knew very little about the struggles of people with type 1 diabetes (T1D), as I am lucky to not have any personal connection to the disease. In my first weeks at JDRF, the team took the time to educate me about diabetes, the pivotal role JDRF is playing in turning Type One into Type None, and the exciting new technological breakthroughs that are revolutionizing treatment and prevention for the disease. In just a few short weeks, I quickly became well-versed in issues related to Type 1.
As much as I learned about T1D from JDRF in the early weeks of my internship, I did not truly understand the disease until JDRF’s 2014 Government Day in March. ‘Gov Day’ is an annual meeting of more than 150 grassroots volunteer leaders who meet in D.C to learn best practices and meet with Members of Congress to explain their T1D stories. The days leading up to the conference were a blur as every last detail was carefully put together. Once JDRF Government Day began, however, all the hard work the team had put in quickly came to fruition.
From the introductions at the first dinner, where every advocate introduced themselves and their connection to diabetes, to the last day of lobbying on the Hill, my admiration for the work of everyone involved continued to grow. Certainly, I was impressed by the work of JDRF Advocacy to organize such a large-scale event, as well as the work of the researchers and scientists who are making life-saving discoveries in labs around the country. But what I was truly impressed by, and what I will always remember, were the advocates who remain incredibly strong and optimistic in the face of the disease, and who took the time out of their own hectic lives to come to D.C. and fight for continued T1D research funding. Some advocates themselves had T1D, others had family or friends living with the disease, and others had lost loved ones to T1D complications. But they all came because they wanted to make a difference.
I had no personal connection to T1D when I began my internship, but now I have countless connections, and as I head on to other internships, my commitment and support for the work JDRF is doing will continue. I have gained both real world experience while working in an office, but I have also learned what it means to work for a cause I am now passionate about.
To get more information on JDRF Advocacy’s internship program, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org.