One year ago, I walked through the Foundation’s doors – uninvited, and uncertain of what I would find. I’d heard about the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation while doing research about policy-oriented organizations in Santa Barbara, and I wanted to learn more.

My research evolved into a year-long internship in which I learned how to go beyond “regular activism” to become an effective agent of change. It was an experience that profoundly impacts the person I am today.

Interning at NAPF demands competence in a diverse set of subjects: effectively engaging and informing the public; making a longstanding impact on government; and using advanced technological tools to bolster advocacy efforts. It requires a growth-oriented mindset, and an unwavering willingness to reach out to individuals who can help further your cause. Last, but not least, it requires dedication to approaching the world’s problems with intellectual rigor and empathy.

I had the privilege of working in many different areas related to advocacy and I came away with a holistic idea of what it takes to run a nonprofit. I tackled projects from intensive, scholarly research, website development, video production, article analysis and the implementation of a public outreach campaign. I had the opportunity to travel to Washington, DC, where I attended an intensive lobbying workshop and met with congressional staffers to advocate on the Foundation’s behalf. I also ran the Foundation’s online Google Adwords campaign, receiving two professional certifications in the process.

I reached out to those with knowledge and experience, spending time with professors, marketing experts, Google representatives, digital media experts, and hibakusha (survivors of the atomic bomb). These invaluable interactions will stay with me for a long time, no doubt. They furthered my advocacy efforts and also serve as a reminder to continue networking.

Last week marked the end of my internship at the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation. It’s as though I’m facing the world with a new pair of eyes: I feel empowered. My time there has given me an extraordinary set of new skills, and the confidence to go out and make a difference. I cannot thank my mentors enough for this opportunity of a lifetime.