We Are the Next (Intern Perspective)

By Jannet Matthew

As I concluded my first-year at Southwestern Law School, most of the students around me were either getting ready for a fancy 'suit-and-tie,' District Attorney’s office externship, or going off to provide volunteer aid to the legal deserts of Southern California. I simply thought, “wouldn’t it be cool if I could find something really close to home where I could dress comfortably and learn about my city?”. I thought all summer long about what that might look but I didn’t ever believe my thoughts would manifest into my reality.

I returned from summer vacation and continued thinking, “if I could just find the perfect organization to work with in Long Beach, wouldn’t that be perfect!”. Just before school started, I was trolling the internet and social media platforms aggressively for any organization in Long Beach that focused on civic engagement or community empowerment. I was so determined!

My relentless search finally led me to We Are the Next’s website and I was rapidly intrigued by the layout of the site, the thoughtful language in the descriptions, and the beautiful images of past and upcoming projects. Excited about finding the perfect organization that seemed to fit my interests in law, the community, and even urban planning, I dialed the listed phone number; begrudgingly, I’ll admit, because I was certain I was going to get an answering machine. I was greeted by an exuberant, “Hi, this is Katie with We Are the Next!”. After learning of an available internship opportunity, I applied that same day and the rest is history.

When I came across this image of the Hot-Cha Cafe on We Are the Next's Instagram account, I called to see how I could get involved.

When I came across this image of the Hot-Cha Cafe on We Are the Next's Instagram account, I called to see how I could get involved.

It’s been just over a month since I made that phone call in late August and I am more thrilled every day that I spend with We Are the Next. I have now spent some weeks working with Katie and La Dawna, the brilliant backbones of the organization, by being a part of their collaborative conversations and brainstorming ideas for projects. We’ve even spent a day on the field and visited a handful of historic monuments throughout Los Angeles, exposing me to more historical monuments than I’ve seen in my lifetime. I especially appreciate the socio-architectural and historical perspective I am gaining when I reflect on the ways I use my community and how I can help to “build the future from yesterday.”

Below are photos I took while exploring Los Angeles with Katie and La Dawna in early October. Click the photo to see the rest of the gallery.

Katie RispoliComment