By Bryant Landeros
This summer I was an intern at Game Theory Academy. My mentor was Preunky Akther. She leads the Oakland Youth Friendly Business Network project, which promotes businesses that help young people with career exploration.
In every job you start with basics. I too started with simple tasks related to the Oakland Youth-Friendly Business Network (OYFBN). My first role was to make sure the OYFB online directory information was correct and then to visit each business in the directory. My responsibilities were making sure that we had accurate location information and getting there on time. Now, I do a little bit of everything. My roles are working on the social media, mainly Twitter, entering data, and finishing up the business visits. From these various roles and responsibilities, I’ve gained a lot of new skills in the past year from being an intern at GTA.
The website promotes businesses that have been giving internship, volunteer, and mentorship opportunities to young adults. We must keep the directory up to date because we want to give the right information to our users because they might need some type of service from the business, and if we have the wrong information they will be misled. I had to make sure that the information was accurate by going through OYFB businesses one by one because they might change their address or phone number. Google was a very helpful resource because it keeps information updated.
An important skilled I gained was calling businesses. At first I was shy and nervous but one main thing that helped me overcome this difficulty was practicing phone calls with Preunky. She acted like she was the business owner, and that helped me get practice, feel comfortable, and be confident. Some other ways I practiced was writing skits down and recording myself to see if it sounded proper because you have to sound professional otherwise they won’t take you seriously.
My first actual phone call to a business was pretty scary. I had no experience with cold calling people, so it was really awkward when I made that first call to La Estrelitta. The phone rang a few times before a lady picked up and said, “Hi, this is La Estrelitta!” I froze and was trying to figure out what to say and finally managed to say, “Hi, uh…I’m with the OYFB and am calling to verify your location and hours…” I know I did not sound professional and the lady one the line was confused about why I was calling , so I passed the phone to Preunky. Now, I feel comfortable doing it and sound more professional. I observed my mentor from then on to pick up on how to call businesses. She called like 3 businesses to show me the proper way to approach the business. One of the businesses she called was King’s Boxing Gym. Eventually I felt more confident in myself and the next calls became easier and I improved a lot a I kept making cold calls.
Preunky and I went out to visit these businesses. She said “Your task is to get us to the destination.” I asked her, “How?” After she showed me how to use the Google Maps App, I started using it all the time even for my personal usage. I was very surprised because I thought the only way to get directions was on a computer.
Managing time is something I learned. I had to plan ahead with the visits to make sure I had enough materials for each visit and would be able to complete the ones on the list.
One day we were going to do visits in San Francisco. They were all in the Mission District. When my mentor asked, “Which ones should we do first?” I responded we should visit the furthest one first so we save up time. So we did; everything was easier because it is like the fastest route even though it takes a long time to get there it was easier because somewhere close by there so it saves us time. We broke a record we usually never finish this early and I felt good about myself because I made the right decision and was trusted by my mentor to make the right decision.
My biggest challenge was expressing appreciation to businesses for the opportunities that they offer. This means honoring them for the great opportunities that really help youth to gain knowledge and skills that could help later in the future. My mentor helped me a lot. She practiced with me one on one and wrote skits down to get an idea like we had for the phone calls. During my first few visits I was really shy, but then I got over it. I had my practiced line down and would change it up a bit for each business to suit them.
One of my favorite visits was when we visited Numi Tea. When we first got there the manager was on the front desk. Most businesses just wait for you to say something, but she actually got up to greet us. She asked us what were we here for and we explained, “We came here to drop off materials that show you are now identified as youth-friendly business.What this means is that you have been giving young adults opportunity such as volunteer, internship, mentorship and we wanted to appreciate you for helping young adults like me. We also promote you through the social media and I wanted to asked you if you mind if we take pictures.” She said, “Thank you and you’re welcome to take pictures.” She also asked us if we wanted tea. She gave us 2 boxes of tea for our office and hand full of loose tea for us. That was the very first time that we received something from a business so we were thrilled.
Another of my favorite business visits was All Of Us or None. I liked this visits because usually we just handout the materials, appreciate them, and they say thank you so we leave. When we explained everything to her she was honored in a way. She then told us “I want you to meet our staff.” When headed to their office we got a tour we got to meet their staff, interns, and the founder of All Of Us or None. She gave us brochures of the upcoming events, classes ,and donations. She did not just hand them out but explained each of them, which gave us an idea of the law system and what the organization was.
Another visit that was important to me was Cafe Platano. The owner there gave me advice on the importance of school and education. He was a kind man who took out time from his work to talk to me. This shows that he must motivate his interns to be successful in school, teaching them the ways they could achieve it , and giving them opportunity to intern there.
Overall, this internship was great for developing my communication skills and raising my confidence. I feel much more comfortable talking to adults now and know I will carry these new skills on with me where ever I go next.