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The Borgen Project

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Submitted by Cassandra Parvaz

Last summer, I was looking for an internship program. I was aiming for something that would allow me to help people by writing. One of the internships that New College of Florida recommended was the Borgen Project’s internship program. The Borgen Project is a non-profit organization that spreads awareness about worldwide extreme poverty and tries to convince the United States government to make it a top priority in the country’s foreign policy. The Borgen Project was looking for intern writers to help with their mission, so I applied.

The Borgen Project’s remote writer internship program lasts 12 weeks. There are three basic requirements to meet by the end of the period: write and submit an article once a week, call and e-mail your congressional representatives once a week to get them to focus on a particular issue related to extreme poverty and raise at least $500 in donations throughout the internship period. In addition, there are smaller tasks to complete during most of the weeks, such as reposting existing Borgen Project articles on social media and writing a letter to the president of the United States. (Unfortunately, your feelings about the current president are invalid for the sake of this requirement).

The rules for submitting an article are a little complicated, but not so bad once you get used to it. In the document that contains the internship guidelines, there is a link to a spreadsheet where everyone submits their article ideas. To submit your idea, find the part of the spreadsheet that corresponds to the current month and write down your name, your working title and a summary of what the article is about and why. Your article should fall into one of seven categories: Global Health, The Good News, Business & New Markets, Technology & Solutions, Spotted/Celebs, Politics and World in Focus. For example, two of the topics that I wrote about were “Myabetic Allows Diabetics in Uganda to Afford Supplies” and “Bill Shore Works to End World Hunger.” The first one falls under World Health, the second under Spotted/Celebs and they both fall under the domain of The Good News. I wrote a lot of articles involving celebrities and those got approved the most and published the fastest.

After a few days, the spreadsheet will update telling you whether or not the article got approved. If it was, you are free to get to work. If it wasn’t, you can always keep trying new ideas or just write about a topic under the Topics Needing Covered tab. Either way, your next task is to research and write a 500 to 900 word article about your topic. Once you are satisfied with the article, simply e-mail it to the Borgen Project’s editors along with the search engine optimization keyword that you picked out ahead of time and used as the title, the initials of the person who approved the article (if they provided them, which they usually do) and whether or not it was in the Topics Needing Covered tab. The articles usually take a while to get published after that, but they do get published eventually.

Raising the required amount of money by the end of the internship period was a little harder. There are two ways to raise money: sending form letters to your loved ones asking them to donate and setting up a webpage on the Borgen Project’s website where people can donate. Both are required for the internship and both ask your loved ones to donate in your name. The trick here is to cast the net as wide as possible. During my internship, I sent letters to everyone from my doctor to my mom’s ex-boyfriend. You never know where your donation money will come from.

Overall, interning with the Borgen Project is an interesting experience. If you like the idea of making an impact with your writing skills, there are few places where you can do so more effectively. And, best of all, if you do well enough, the Borgen Project will offer you several permanent positions at the end of your internship period. I chose to be a contributing writer and continue to write for the Borgen Project whenever I have ample free time. My position is unpaid, but still. If you are interested, apply to the Borgen Project now to get a June 1 start date for your internship.

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