The 2019 TurboVote Summer Associates: end of summer recap

The 2019 Summer Associates (pictured above) took part in an optional Brooklyn Bridge Park conservancy coastal cleanup. They picked up 396 pieces of trash in just 1 hour!

The 2019 Summer Associates (pictured above) took part in an optional Brooklyn Bridge Park conservancy coastal cleanup. They picked up 396 pieces of trash in just 1 hour!

Over the past 10 weeks, our 2019 TurboVote Summer Associates led and contributed to a variety of voter engagement projects to help us continue making voting fit the way we live. We have watched five exceptional students demonstrate a strong commitment to our democracy and undergo significant professional growth. We asked our associates about what they accomplished and learned during their internship and how it will shape their future career aspirations–we recap their thoughts here:

Akshay Mody

Through a supportive 1:1 relationship with his manager, professional development workshops, and SMART goal setting, Akshay gained a variety of skills that will serve him well in his future career aspirations. As a member of the Campus Partnerships team, Akshay learned how Democracy Works conducts strategic outreach to new college campuses throughout the country and promotes democratic engagement with young Americans. Notably, Akshay worked to implement and organize three successful outreach campaigns; one focusing on major cities, one focusing on community colleges, and one focusing on states with primaries before Super Tuesday. Akshay leaves Democracy Works with a unique perspective about a nonprofit’s role in helping local officials serve voters and a solidified understanding about the role of technology in increasing civic participation. Overall, Akshay’s experience at Democracy Works has reinforced his passion for making voting more accessible to young Americans who attend community colleges and increasing campus democratic engagement. Akshay plans to continue exploring the political and public policy realms and attend law school upon graduation.

Deanna Gutierrez
Serving as a liaison among teams in the Voter Engagement Department, Deanna’s work spanned across projects related to internal communications, product development, and data visualization. In particular, she enjoyed embracing Democracy Works’ value of “leaderfullness” by serving as the project manager for usability testing on existing TurboVote notifications aimed at improving the user experience. By engaging in work spanning across all three teams working on TurboVote—the partnerships team, the product team, and developer team—she experienced first-hand how cross-team collaboration and robust community play a substantial role in the success of a technology organization creating a user-friendly product. Deanna also took part in collaborations between Democracy Works and civic tech organizations the Center for Civic Design and Ideas42 to develop effective mechanisms for ensuring that voting is easy and accessible for all. The Summer Associate Program also empowered her to explore and develop skill sets in new areas of interest; a favorite project of hers was a data visualization that demonstrated the importance of voting in local and state-wide elections. As Deanna begins pursuing post-graduate plans, she is grateful to have had the opportunity to learn so much about Democracy Works and the civic technology space. Her internship experience reinforced her passion for civic engagement and goal of pursuing a career in public service. 

Ella Michaels

Throughout the summer, Ella has learned about everything from design thinking, to the effect of voter turnout on incumbency rates, to the intricacies of connecting your computer to the office printer when the detailed, complex, four-page guide is specific to Macs...and you have a PC. Working with the Campus Partnerships team, Ella built resources for  campuses to make TurboVote implementation as effective as possible in preparation for the new school year and ahead of the 2020 elections. Some of her favorite projects included spearheading an overhaul of the Higher Education Toolkit, conducting interviews and writing success stories that profiled high-achieving partners, and organizing a mixer for interns in Brooklyn that involved partnering with local organizations and overcoming building management's "no flyers" policy. The best part of her time at Democracy Works was the opportunity to work with and learn from the dedicated, passionate folks in the voter engagement space who truly model what it means to be in public service. She looks forward to using the new skills, knowledge, and LinkedIn profile she developed over the summer to follow in their footsteps.

Michael Goldman Brown Jr.

During this summer, Michael learned a lot about Democracy Works and about the civic tech space as a whole. The experience provided him a fascinating look into a startup that is working to make the world a more democratic place. Throughout the summer, he gained a variety of experience on the Nonprofit Partnerships team, including  revamping the TurboVote Partner Toolkits, finding leads for Democracy Works to connect with more potential partners, and developing nonprofit partner case studies. This opportunity also sprinkled in a lot of chances for personal growth. By developing  SMART goals, Michael spent the summer striving for important milestones with the help of excellent professional development sessions and useful insights from successful people within the startup sector. Overall, Michael has enjoyed getting to know the great folks at TurboVote and exploring the great city of New York!

Sam Shapiro

Over the summer, Sam gained a wealth of experience working in the nonprofit and civic technology space. Working with the Corporate Partnerships team, Sam came to understand Democracy Works’s pitch to companies and how to leverage our largest and most profitable organizations to promote democracy. He worked to improve the resources Democracy Works provides its partners, guide their voter engagement campaigns, and better craft outreach to ensure the money and time corporations commit are used as efficiently and effectively as possible. Working with the Product and Operations teams, Sam observed how the consumer-partner feedback chain led to technological improvements that helped Democracy Works better serve the public. Sam plans to take the lessons he’s learned at Democracy Works—how corporations value social responsibility, how nonprofits navigate the space between government and corporate bodies, how American consumers are increasingly cognizant of spending their dollars at companies who do good in the world–with him wherever he ends up. He’s incredibly grateful for the opportunity afforded to him this summer and has had a wonderful time getting to know the amazing staff that helps make democracy work.

Thamara Jean