My Job Videos and Our Amazing Interns

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MY JOB: Real People at Work Around the World is a compilation of vivid first-person accounts of people in unique jobs from a diverse range of cultures and sectors. Never before has such a collection of stories been gathered. Building upon the legacy of Studs Terkel’s 1970s bestseller Working, MY JOB goes global and updated, reflecting the daily struggles and successes of working storytellers in their own distinct voices.

 By Brienne Skees, Program Officer and VP of Research and Data Management

This year, the Skees Family Foundation embarked on a new project to support our social-mission book, MY JOB, that shares stories of fascinating working people while raising funds for job-creation.

We decided to produce a series of short videos to highlight different narrators from chapters in MY JOB Book 1 and Book 2 (coming in 2018). We conducted fresh interviews with select narrators from each book, about who they are and what they do. Then we transformed those interviews into short promotional videos.

Our Book 1 promotional video, produced by Elaine Wan

Unfortunately, the skill set this project required was outside our areas of expertise, and it was WAY outside our budget to have these made by paid professionals. So, we turned to our trusted and valued friends at the San Francisco Bay Area Nueva School to match us with interns who might be willing to exercise their media skills for free for a good cause. Boy, did they deliver!

If I am being totally honest, my hopes were not high for these kids, just high-school seniors. I began thinking back to my time in high school, what my priorities were at that age, and how I wanted to spend my well-deserved summer vacation. I figured we might get a few videos, but the quality of those videos would be subpar and the production would require a lot of hand-holding and personal time on my part.

I couldn’t have been more wrong. I’m not sure if all the interns from the Nueva School are as diligent and creative as the students that were placed with us, but our interns were incredible.


Elaine Wan and Ethan Walker, our interns from the Nueva School in California.

They had many great ideas and were able to get started on their own almost immediately. They knew so much about video production and formatting, that it felt more like I was the one in need of hand-holding.

The first completed video of Makana, a musician based in Hawai’i

We met virtually once a week, as I was distance-managing them from my home in South Korea, to keep each other updated and to brainstorm ideas. It was a bit of a slow start due to vacations and scheduling conflicts with our narrators. But once we got the interviews completed, it was smooth sailing.

Ethan and Elaine really took it from there. They made most of the creative decisions themselves, working together to keep the videos stylistically similar so they seemed more like a series. They were totally open to my suggestions and were receptive to my ideas–even though these videos were their creations.

This was my first time managing people, and I’m pretty sure I got incredibly lucky, especially considering I was managing two teenagers from thousands of miles away who were working for free.

Of course there were hiccups in our productive summer. We had trouble scheduling all of our interviews with narrators. Sometimes there were technical difficulties. The video quality of our Skype-based interviews wasn’t as good as we had hoped.

In our interview with Nadine from the Akilah Institute, Skype decided her picture would be best with a spinning circle in the middle…

There were some scheduling conflicts with the interns as well. Once the school year began, they had a lot less time to work with me on finishing the project, so it pushed me to nag a bit more than I prefer. It also pushed back the project deadline by not weeks, but months. Overall, though, it went so smoothly that I was on the edge of my seat, waiting for something to go wrong.

Nothing did go wrong, though. Anytime one of the interns ran into an issue, from formatting problems to stylistic differences, they would talk to each other and to me and we were able to figure out solutions to the problems. Open communication was key to our success this summer.

I would love to say that I learned so much about management, but it was actually the easiest job I’ve had. So I hope you enjoy the videos, and you can order the MY JOB book here.

Our Book 2 promotional video produced by Ethan Walker


LEARN more about the MY JOB project and community: click here.

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DONATE directly to our job-creation partners whose stories will be featured in the forthcoming book, here.

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