Interning At ACM Strategies
I’m Annelise, ACM’s summer intern! This summer, I’ve been working closely with the ACM team in their digital organizing and strategy projects, and have learned a lot about the world of grassroots advocacy along the way.
As a junior in college, I was looking for a rapid deep dive into the world of political consulting, and was especially interested in working alongside a women-led team that was passionate about grassroots advocacy. The internship program through the American Association of Political Consultants offered just that, allowing me to spend two months working at ACM Strategies. It’s hard to believe that I’m already close to wrapping up here—my work has flown by!
Most of my days are spent juggling responsibilities that are far from administrative tasks or coffee runs; that’s one of the advantages of a remote workplace. All the work happening here is directly targeted toward helping ACM’s clients reach their goals and build a vision for the impact ACM hopes to see: turning people into activists.
On the day-to-day, this looks like writing online content for our clients’ fundraising and awareness campaigns. I’ve learned about a number of dynamic organizations with engaging missions, ranging from increasing voter turnout to advocating for affordable housing, and I’ve participated in hands-on work for their related projects. I’ve also been connecting daily via text message with real activists who are working to engage in our democracy and make their voices heard.
One of my favorite parts of the internship has been writing here, on ACM’s blog, about relevant industry trends and updates. I’ve been able to learn a ton about the digital strategy and advocacy space through industry research, and have been inspired by the great work that so many organizations are up to. On a more personal note, I’ve gotten to know ACM’s great team, learn about their fascinating experiences in the digital advocacy space, and think more about how I see myself playing a role in this field in the future.
One of the most engaging parts of the internship has also been one of its biggest challenges: operating in an all-remote environment. It has definitely been a learning curve for me to communicate with a team that works from all four corners of the country. I’ve also had to get comfortable with a lot of online platforms I had never heard of before, which the team uses to communicate with activists and fundraise for clients. As a change-adverse perfectionist, it would have been easy to freak out at first, but being patient with myself and persevering amidst those challenges has been key to overcoming that initial discomfort. On the other hand, ACM’s digital nature means they really know what they're talking about when it comes to digital advocacy and communication! They understand the importance of clarity in communication and care deeply about establishing a strongly supportive and affirming culture in an online space, which they focus on extending to their clients’ work.
My short time working here, however, has left me with some profound takeaways about the state of the digital advocacy space. While it’s easy to think that the internet makes communication easier and more accessible than ever, it also brings abundant opportunities for communication failures.
Misinformation is more prevalent than ever in our political and social landscape, and confusion surrounding current events often leads to people feeling jaded, and refusing to participate in advocacy and social change altogether.
This dilemma enhances the need for thoughtful, clear communication that prioritizes real connection and real change.
Before I started this internship, I would have assumed that online strategy and communication—via email, text, and websites—is a part of driving long-term structural change. But, by seeing the emphasis that the ACM team places on digital strategy, I’ve realized that this view is pretty simplistic; rather than effective communication being part of change, it needs to characterize every single aspect of an organization’s work. Prioritizing big, flashy, measurable results with lacking community engagement and activist relationships misses the mark completely and inhibits lasting impact.
Looking forward to the work I hope to do after school and beyond, I am more aware than ever of the importance of communication, relationships, and public interaction in pursuing that change. When looking at the discouraging political and social climate in our country, it’s tempting to feel that any work that organizations and activists can do to improve people’s lives is too little, too late. But through my time at ACM, I’ve learned that the hard work of advocacy lies in the day-to-day efforts to work toward justice and equity.