StoryCorps – Brooklyn, NY
StoryCorps is a fast-paced digital media/storytelling organization, committed to effective and innovative use of technology; we are a Mac-based… StoryCorps
I worked at StoryCorps as an intern
Interns at StoryCorps are entrusted to do real, meaningful work. Having done internships elsewhere, I know that's not always the case! I felt like my supervisors were committed to my professional development, and being given serious responsibilities made me feel like I was actually contributing valuable work to an organization that I care about. I learned a great deal not only from my supervisor, but also from employees in other departments. Many StoryCorps staff members have their own creative endeavors outside of the office, which is great.
Regrettably, the positive aspects of my internship were overshadowed by the fact that the internship was unpaid. The $55/week stipend was too small to cover even the lunch and transportation fees for which it was intended. Affording the high cost of living in New York City was a definite challenge while working at StoryCorps. It was hard to manage both the internship and a part-time job, due in part to the rather rigid nature of the StoryCorps internship schedule (5 days a week, 4 hours a day). Many interns share computers on half-day shifts, which means that it can be logistically impossible to change your hours to accommodate another work schedule. I ultimately quit my part-time job and was only able to continue interning at StoryCorps because I was receiving financial support from my parents. Most other interns in my intern class could only afford to intern at StoryCorps because they, too, had financial safety nets to fall back on. While I was grateful for the opportunity to work there, I can't help but think about the fact that this internship is inaccessible to most people who don't have considerable financial resources. It was hard for me to reconcile that with StoryCorps' mission to “hire staff who reflect the diversity of the communities it serves."
Advice to Management
StoryCorps is a wonderful organization that is truly committed to living out its mission. The staff is welcoming and the work environment is creative and stimulating. My advice to StoryCorps' management would be to explore ways to fund a paid internship program, both to improve interns' quality of life and also to make this opportunity accessible to people from a wider range of financial backgrounds. Several other prominent non-profit media organizations -- Democracy Now!, NPR National and NPR member stations, Mother Jones, Grist, among others -- have recently transitioned from unpaid to paid internship and/or fellowship programs. I understand that non-profits often operate on a tight budget, but I'm confident that an organization like StoryCorps, with such a creative, committed staff, can identify a strategy that makes it possible to pay interns minimum wage.