Caring for Our Communities: 2021 Intern Day of Service
Seven weeks ago, 100 students from across the country began their summer internship at Samsung Electronics America. As eager young professionals, we were excited at the opportunity to immerse ourselves in the company culture and learn as much as possible during our eight-to-ten-week programs.
For many, including myself, a virtual internship was a new experience, but remote work has proven not to be an obstacle in mimicking the employee experience. From personal development workshops to cross-functional projects to sitting in on various meetings, the learning has not stopped as we have been encouraged to ask questions and explore #LifeAtSamsung.
This past Thursday, July 15, 2021, Samsung’s largest intern class partnered with Hackensack Riverkeeper to participate in an Intern Day of Service. The 197-mile Hackensack River Watershed expands through New Jersey and into the greater U.S. waterway system, located next to Samsung Electronics America North American headquarters in Ridgefield Park, NJ. The event was conducted with virtual welcome and wrap-up meetings, but we were encouraged to get outside and safely partner with friends, family, and even fellow interns to clean up our communities. During this wrap-up meeting, we were given more insight to the connectedness of our local watersheds to others across the United States, and discussed ways to lessen pollution.
Hackensack Riverkeeper has celebrated over 20 years of clean water advocacy, with Samsung’s Ridgefield Park office being a partner for nearly half that time. The organization utilizes a fourfold strategy of environmental action, advocacy, education, and litigation to protect, preserve, and restore the watershed that was once one of the most polluted in America. This volunteer work is aligned with Samsung’s co-prosperity value, showing the company’s commitment “to becoming a socially environmentally responsible corporate citizen in all of its communities worldwide.”
This Intern Day of Service was another interactive way for us to engage in the Samsung experience, as it resembled Samsung’s company-wide Day of Service occurring each fall. Jack Madden, University Relations, explained the process in planning the event, “This year our interns took part in an innovative Day of Service unlike anything our program has ever done. In our virtual world, one of the key challenges we face is class-wide engagement. With their short time with the organization, coupled with their busy schedules, it is difficult to get all of the interns together for every event. Our interns were sent clean-up equipment and, over the course of one afternoon, picked up a collective 950+ pounds of trash around their neighborhoods. In addition to the clean-up, they learned more about how important it is to maintain healthy waterways and the different practices individuals can take to learn their carbon footprint.”
Each intern took advantage of Samsung mobile devices to capture our day on camera to increase engagement and connectivity. Later that evening, the event administrators presented a slideshow including everyone’s pictures and led discussions highlighting some of our newly cleaned communities.
Puja Patel, an intern on the Strategic Operations Team, completed her clean-up individually in downtown Columbus, Ohio. “It felt good to give back to the community that raised me. These are the things that are important to me,” said Puja. “I want the company I work for to be strong in communities both locally and globally.” Although she went solo for her service activities, she confirmed feeling connected despite being miles apart. “We were keeping each other updated with when and where we were going. Being able to share that experience was nice to have been a part of together, even though we are not in person.”
I was lucky enough to share this experience with two other students from Rutgers University also interning at Samsung this summer. Excited to meet new friends at both work and school, we did not initially realize the significant contribution toward our university and the Day of Service as a whole. As we walked up and down College Avenue picking up trash and recyclables, numerous Rutgers faculty and members of the larger New Brunswick community expressed their gratitude for our efforts.
Devin Beamon, an intern on the Samsung Care Team, had a similar experience in Texas. He partnered with a friend outside of the Samsung organization interested in Biology and Environmental Science. In discussing his time, he explained, “It was eye-opening. When you think of going to pick up trash, you think of a wounded environment or going somewhere new to volunteer. In reality, if you walk outside and go into your local area, there is so much you can do.”
As we concluded our day by gathering on a video conference for a wrap-up session, we each came to the same realization as Beamon. In talking about our different communities and exchanging links for reusable straws in the chat box, it was amazing to see how much of an impact we made in a few short hours.
It can sometimes be easy to get caught up in the hustle of academics, work, or extracurricular activities, and forget to take time to give back. However, the Intern Day of Service showed just how simple and effective it can be to make a difference with a few trash bags and a pair of gloves right outside your front door. Samsung’s balance between professional and personal growth continues to inspire each of us to reach our fullest potential to benefit those around us. Having picked up a collective 950+ pounds of trash from the East to the West Coast, we ended our workday feeling beyond proud of each other and grateful to intern at a company like Samsung that cares so much about our local communities.
About the contributor:
Alana Gomez-Solis, Corporate Communications Intern Summer 2021
A digital native and member of Gen Z, Alana looks to utilize communication and creativity in contributing to Samsung Electronics America’s fast-moving innovation. She is currently a rising senior at Rutgers University, New Brunswick. She looks forward to graduating this spring with a major in marketing, minor in digital communications, information, and media, and a concentration in global business.