An Intern’s Tale: Learning How to Interact, Innovate, and Influence With Consensus

By Brianna Thorpe

As a college student, you never know when or if you are going to find an internship. For juniors and seniors especially, finding an internship that they enjoy and that is fulfilling can be a source of great anxiety and uncertainty. It is very rare that an internship just falls in one’s lap and often times, hours of hard work are spent finding and getting that perfect internship. However, sometimes something divine happens and an unexpected opportunity presents itself with seemingly no work on your part. In this post, I recount the story of how I landed here and what I have learned thus far.

<- That’s me! Photo by: John Tsiavis

“So, tell me a little about yourself.”

I am almost certain that anyone who has been in an interview before, whether they played the role of the interviewer or interviewee, is familiar with this question. What the interviewer is really trying to figure out is, “Who are you and what makes you special?” So, as a throwback to the day that I interviewed at Consensus, I will tell you a little bit about myself.

On a superficial level, I am a senior at USC studying Policy, Planning, and Development with a minor in Dance in Popular Culture. I am also the Assistant Director of the Black Student Assembly at USC, a performer on the USC Break on 2 Latin Fusion Dance Team, and a Junior Company Member with Contra Tiempo Futuro.

However, on a deeper and more personal level, I consider myself a servant leader in every sense of the word. The phrase “servant leadership” was coined by Robert K. Greenleaf and describes one who is a servant first and then by conscious choice, aspires to lead. The motivation behind my leadership is not power or recognition, but rather a deep-seeded desire to improve the lives of others. As someone who is passionate about community development, I am interested in ways that one can build community in the physical sense while also building community in a non-physical sense. In any opportunity that I pursue, I strive to gain knowledge, learn new skill sets and establish lasting relationships that will allow me to achieve my ultimate goal of giving back to my community. Knowing this, the question that naturally follows is, “Why Consensus?” What keeps me feeling fulfilled in my role as an intern? The answer is in their tagline.

Interact. Innovate. Influence.

I was on my way to the Undergraduate Student Government office when I received a call from one of my family members. I could tell that he had some exciting news for me, but I wasn’t sure what it was. After briefly checking in with one another, he told me about a paid internship opportunity with a company called, Consensus. He knew from our previous conversations that I was interested in community development, so he figured it would be the perfect fit for me. I had never heard of the company before so when I got to my office, I decided to look at their website. Three words immediately stuck out to me: interact, innovate, and influence. At the time, I was the Director of Community Affairs and I had already been doing those things on a smaller scale at USC. I figured I had nothing to lose so I sent the company an email expressing my interest in the position and the rest, is history.

In the short time that I have interned here, Consensus Inc. has truly lived up to their tagline. They have interacted with the community in innovative ways to create change and as their name suggests, create consensus around a project.

In the short time that I have interned here, Consensus Inc. has truly lived up to their tagline. They have interacted with the community in innovative ways to create change and as their name suggests, create consensus around a project. They achieve this by having meaningful interactions with people and imploring developers to take community input into consideration. This, in my opinion, is their biggest success as a company. They make sure the developer is able to bring progress to an area while also making sure the community gets a voice in this development. That balance is not an easy one, and Consensus’ ability to stay true to the way they engage people is what I admire most.

Not only does Consensus interact, innovate, and influence in the community, but they do so with their interns as well. Their open office set-up, collaborative workspaces, and company outings create a space in which interaction is encouraged between interns, staff, and executives. The company also thrives on trust and flexibility which allows employees the freedom to get work done without feeling as though someone is always breathing down their neck. It also allows you to become independent, take initiative on tasks, and grow as an individual within the company. As an intern, you rarely get opportunities like this so it has been truly amazing to work in an environment like this.

Reflections

Being an intern with Consensus gave me a unique opportunity to interact with communities in ways that I previously had not. Since I have been here, I learned how to draft cohesive themes and messages for a project, conduct media research, format media research reports, prepare for community meetings, and organize business or community walks. I have also gained so many valuable and practical skills such as CRM for community organizing utilizing NationBuilder, project management on Trello, and digital engagement tactics while creating BuzzFeed-style quizzes. All of this has allowed me to build new skills, network with people, learn the ins-and-outs of community engagement and lay the groundwork for my future as an influencer in my community. Being in an office with professionals who actually care about your development is refreshing and I can honestly say that I will miss working here. When my cousin said he thought this would be a perfect fit for me, he was right, and I’m glad to have had the opportunity to learn from this company.

If you want to learn how you can join the Consensus team in Los Angeles, apply here.