“What do you want to be when you grow up?” The age-old question you start getting asked from when you say your first words until you finally choose your career. Prior to this opportunity, I was almost certain I knew exactly what I wanted to do in the future. I would work as a political analyst to advocate for Black communities and show representation for people who look like me.
When I applied for this summer, I knew the opportunity was within the field of what I wanted to do but, honestly, I had no idea what public interest communications was. After learning what it was, I was in awe of this powerful work that I didn’t even know existed.
As a Jamaican, Black woman born and raised in Philly while attending predominantly white institutions for most of my life, I have learned how to navigate many of the different spaces in my life. I like to think of each intersection as a language, each requiring a different style and understanding. I have learned these “languages” by the spaces I was put in and had to adapt to but because each language was spoken so differently I thought I had learned all I needed in order to succeed in life and navigate different spaces. But I was wrong.
During my time at Spitfire, I helped run Spitfire’s social media accounts. I thought this would be my easiest task. I use just about every social media outlet there is, so posting for Spitfire will be a breeze, right? What I didn’t realize is, there was a language I hadn’t mastered yet. Spitfire’s language. On my first day, I noticed a simple tweet took me two and a half hours. A 140-character post had me stumped. I tried so hard to draft a tweet from Spitfire’s point of view, while also staying within the character count. After I thought I had crafted the perfect tweet, I would send my draft to Aaron, my amazing work “buddy”, and I watched as my post would be entirely reconstructed. Even though he was super nice and encouraging about it, I wanted to be better.
Following my first attempt to write a tweet, I stalked Spitfire’s LinkedIn and Twitter, to better understand this new language. There was definitely a learning curve and after many rounds of edits, I was, finally, able to eloquently write posts in Spitfire’s language.
Creating content for different social media platforms this summer has taught me that there is an immense amount of intention behind each post. I now understand, communication is a never-ending process of learning new languages to communicate better with different audiences. I am grateful to learn these important tools just at the start in my career.
Working with Spitfire and learning more about public interest communications has encouraged me to continue learning new languages and expand my knowledge. There are so many things that I don’t even know I don’t know. Thanks to this opportunity I have “good confusion” meaning I, now, can consider public interest communications as a career. My experience here has both clarified and broadened what I want to do in the future. I still know I want to be an advocate for my communities but I, now, know there are more ways to accomplish that!