Jessica Nissen: Inspire Communications Intern

We'd like to welcome Jessica Nissen to our team! Jessica is a student at Biola University studying public relations and will be our communications intern for the summer. Read this Q&A to get to know her!

What is your background?

First of all, I was born and raised here in Salem, Oregon! My mom homeschooled my brother and I from preschool through senior year. Salem is a wonderful city for homeschooling! My childhood included playing at the Gilbert House and going to the state Capitol Building for field trips and “Apple Pie Days.”

Throughout high school I took private writing and literature classes in one of the upper rooms at Broadway Commons. It was during that time that I discovered my love for writing, and I began dreaming of one day having some kind of communications job.

After high school, I attended Chemeketa Community College for two years to complete my general education requirements. Then, after 20 years living here, I finally left Salem to transfer to Biola University in La Mirada, California. I recently finished my junior year!

At Biola, I’m pursuing my B.A. in Public Relations, with a concentration in Nonprofits and Ministries. Studying public relations has felt like the perfect fit! During my junior year I learned about so many incredible nonprofits, which reaffirmed my passion for nonprofit work.

How did you hear about this internship?

It’s a funny story! During this past Christmas break, I came home (to Salem) for a few weeks. My close family friend came over for dinner one night and introduced me to her fiancé. Her fiancé was Rian Rasubala: the Workforce Development Officer here at the Inspire Foundation!

Without knowing anything about Rian, I began telling him about my search for a summer internship. I told him I was looking for a public relations or communications-related internship at a nonprofit. He didn’t reveal to me that he actually did public relations and communication work at a nonprofit until several weeks later! One day he called me on the phone and told me he’d like to customize and create an internship for me! Everything seemed too perfect!

What drew you to this internship?

Besides the perk of being able to come back to Salem for the summer, this internship sounded like exactly what I was looking for! I knew I would get to practice communicating through multiple channels, experience the daily operations of a nonprofit, help strengthen the brand of the Inspire Foundation, and figure out how to spread the word about what Inspire does. Also, I could tell that Rian would be a great supervisor!

What will you be working on for the Inspire Foundation?

Some projects include creating a template for an email newsletter, writing and  gathering content for the newsletter, designing some print marketing materials, launching a new Inspire Foundation Instagram account, engaging with the public through multiple social media platforms, and interviewing folks who are involved with Inspire, so that we can share their stories in video and written formats!

How do you feel this internship will help advance your career?

There are several ways I think this internship will prepare me for future jobs:

By observing how Inspire operates, I’ll learn what nonprofit organizations can do to accomplish their goals and thrive.

Through frequent interactions with other professionals and with the public I’m trying to reach (online and in-person), I’m hopeful that I’ll become an even more precise and effective communicator with superiors, co-workers, business partners, and the public.

By learning how to use various computer programs and websites to produce marketing material, I’ll have more “tools in my belt” for later.

By participating in creative team meetings, I believe my strategic thinking and planning skills will improve.

Through attending several networking events, my self-confidence in a professional setting has already vastly improved!

What are your plans after this internship?

Next up is my senior year at Biola! I’ll finish there in May 2020, and I’ll officially receive my degree after completing a second internship in the summer of 2020. I’m open to interning in any city, but Salem and southern California have my heart. Beyond that, I would love to work for a noble nonprofit where I can leverage my interpersonal skills, creativity, communication, problem-solving, empathy, and passion for advocacy.

When you’re not working or going to school, what do you like to do?

Anything that involves quality time with one or more people is my favorite! I specifically enjoy meaningful conversations, game nights, or finding new places to eat with friends. When I’m alone, I enjoy reading, listening to podcasts, journaling, and learning more about topics I’m interested in (such as psychology, health, the Enneagram, Disney, and the Bible!)

What is your favorite thing about Salem?

The people. In my experience, people in Salem are generally quite friendly and kind — even strangers! I think this may be a result of several things: the comparatively less hurried pace and lifestyle here, the sense of safety, the sense of community that has been fostered throughout the years, and the overall culture. I like that when I’m at a coffee shop or grocery store, people aren’t taken aback when I strike up a conversation.

We’re dying to know: What’s your favorite Salem restaurant?

VENTI'S! I can not rave enough about Venti's! The food never disappoints, the staff are always patient and incredibly warm while they serve, and the environment is comfortable and fun. (If you like curry, try their yellow curry bowl!)

What else would you like people to know?

I would love people to know that there’s a huge network of wonderful individuals working together every day to make Salem great. A diverse group of local leaders, decision-makers, and folks who just care about the city are always coming together to dream about how to make Salem the best it can be. Through communication, collaboration, and a unified care for the city, they’re truly creating positive changes in our community! I was unaware of this until I began working with the Chamber — and now I appreciate Salem so much more. Meeting and seeing some of these passionate leaders has given me a sense of comfort in living here. I also feel proud to be a Salem resident.

I’d also like to encourage people with what I’ve recently learned about leadership: I’m convinced that there’s no perfect personality type, skill set, or set of circumstances that make you equipped to be a leader—or even an influencer or professional. I think many of us feel intimidated by the word and responsibilities that we believe are attached to being a “leader.” Once I began working for the Inspire Foundation, though, I quickly realized that there’s nothing too scary about pursuing leadership. I think leadership is mainly about coming alongside others, inspiring, or guiding them towards some positive goal. If someone feels drawn to the idea of leadership, I don’t want them to believe they aren’t cut out for it! The world needs all kind of people to lend their voices and perspectives to good causes!

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