After three years studying political economy, with a concentration on international development, I knew the world was a pretty screwed-up place. So, for my first internship, it was natural that I wanted to do something where I knew I would be making the world better.
Team Rubicon provided the perfect opportunity. During his acceptance speech for the Pat Tillman Award, CEO and Cofounder Jake Wood summed up what TR is all about: “If Americans treated one another every day like they do after disasters, we would live in a truly special place.” The compassion that Americans show after natural disasters is exactly what the men and women of Team Rubicon bring to the job every day.
This was clear to me from my first day at Los Angeles Headquarters. Being part of the Membership Team (the point of contact for 82,000+ volunteers, many of whom were itching to get out in the field) could seem daunting at times, but the team and volunteers’ enthusiasm made it all enjoyable. Whether it was sending out patches or hats to recognize Greyshirts for their service, or simply helping volunteers fix something in their Roll Call account, I knew I was working with some of the finest citizens in the country and around the world.
However, you might not think this at first glance into the office. The flip-flops, t-shirts, succulents, and freely-flowing La Croix make it feel more like a Silicon Beach tech start-up than a non-profit dedicated to disaster relief and veteran reintegration. Hang around long enough, though, and it will become clear that beyond the office keg and weekly Mario Kart tournaments are a work ethic and moral standard I truly think you can’t find anywhere else.
I have been honored to be able to help the team improve the membership experience during my short time with TR. Throughout my various projects, I was able to get a peek into just about every department and how they operate. Taylor, my fellow intern, and I worked with Kristen Cotter and our Tech team to improve the Helpdesk site. Various SOGs and recognition projects sent me around the office looking for advice and into the Slack direct messages of staff members across the country.
If my short time with TR has shown me one thing, it’s that you should never neglect an idea you have, no matter how minute, or even far-fetched it may seem. Jake Wood’s idea to go to Haiti to help victims of the earthquake, and then to transform his team into a full-fledged non-profit organization may have seemed ambitious or even crazy at the time, but eight years later it is clear that this idea has touched the lives of disaster victims around the globe in a special way. Similarly, the open and welcoming nature of LAHQ has allowed me to feel comfortable bringing new ideas to the table, and whether they are successful or not, I know I will never forget the positive impact TR has had on my formation.