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Interns Speak Out!

As young feminists, activists, and radicals, making the transition from college to the “real” working world has been tough. Like many young people, we have been schooled in the writings of bell hooks and Audre Lorde, made campus activism a part of our daily lives, and have expected to enter a world in which we would continue to fight injustice, instigate change, and make our voices heard.

However, as interns at a large mainstream feminist non-profit,  we realized that there were a surprising number of obstacles standing our way. The place we worked at may have lauded itself on being a “feminist” organization mobilizing young people for social justice, but so many things we noticed or experienced on a daily basis as interns contradicted this ideal. We realized that young people were valued as an “image” – a pretty picture to put on a brochure or the organization’s website – but their independent voices, their insights, and their unique experiences were not acknowledged internally. Sometimes colleagues patronized us when we voiced critiques. Sometimes we were told our comments were “inappropriate” when we spoke up. Other times we were escorted out of the building. Supervisors appreciated interns who complicitly and obediently did what was asked of them, and these were the people whose faces would later appear on the website, the faces of the promising next generation. But our voices were ignored and silenced.

Like many people new to the non-profit world, we discovered that what we thought would be working at the forefront ...

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