Click Here for Goodwin Living Citizenship ProgramLearn More
Staff Stories - August 24, 2023
by Katrina Hauser
I spent the summer before my senior year at The George Washington University serving as the Marketing and Communications Intern at Goodwin Living. After studying abroad at Queen Mary University of London during the fall of my junior year, I returned to Washington, D.C. this spring and began to take upper-level classes within the Journalism and Mass Communication curriculum. I quickly gained a deeper interest in media studies and found myself eager to witness a career in the communications field in action.
I knew an internship would be the best way to ease myself into the professional realm, so I used Handshake to apply for local positions. Shortly after, Goodwin Living People Engagement Manager Zoe Marcuse, who leads the internship program at Goodwin Living, reached out via email regarding my application to be the Marketing and Communications (MarComms) Department’s summer intern. She scheduled a virtual interview for me with the team, and soon a handful of people crowded around a computer screen to meet me. Even Remi, Corporate Director of Marketing and Communications Kathie Miller’s dog, was on the call, sitting on her lap.
I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the last MarComms intern had continued working for the team on a PRN basis following her internship. This was a relief, because I’d feared ending up at an organization where the work given to interns wasn’t important or acknowledged. Instead, this example gave me the hope that any accomplishments I made throughout my internship would be valued. I accepted the position of MarComms Intern at Goodwin Living and began my term with this faith-based, not-for profit senior living and health care services organization in June 2023.
On my first day at Goodwin House Bailey’s Crossroads (GHBC), before I even met the MarComms team, I found myself in a room with all the other interns. As we exchanged introductions, I learned we all came from a variety of high schools and colleges in the area and were devoted to many different fields of study. For the majority of the next eight weeks, we would split off among different branches of the organization — Finance, Brain Health, Life Enrichment and MarComms, to name just a few — though we would come back together as a group for regular seminars.
These sessions, led by Goodwin Living senior leaders, provided tips on how to succeed in interviews, build resumes and much more. I consider it amazing that Goodwin Living makes such an effort to ensure its interns succeed when their time with the organization has concluded, and that I got to learn even more on top of the day-to-day work I did with the MarComms team.
Another wonderful resource for Goodwin Living interns is that we all were matched with a mentor, and the mentors were Goodwin Living residents or Goodwin Living At Home members. Though I was excited to start my internship, I did worry about interacting with residents. I feared that they wouldn’t pick up on my humor or that we wouldn’t find anything to talk about. Luckily, my concerns lifted the moment I met my mentor, Martha Trunk, a GHBC resident. It was her first time participating in the program too, and we bonded immediately over feeling like fish out of water.
During our first meeting, I learned about Martha’s life and was inspired by her involvement in the Silver Panthers, a group of resident activists at GHBC. Many of the other resident mentors also had interesting hobbies and stories to share with their intern mentees.
Eventually, the interns broke away to meet our teams and get to work. On the way to the MarComms office, I passed a posterboard advocating for gun violence prevention. My previous experience with senior living communities indicated that they were sterile and cramped, but I was quickly learning that GHBC is full of only light and life.
The more I learned about Goodwin Living, the more daunted I was by it. After all, it would be part of my job to figure out how to share the positive essence of our organization with the outside world. This is the responsibility of the MarComms Department, which sets strategy and implementation for the Goodwin Living social media accounts, maintains the website and develops and guides all other forms of internal and external marketing and communications needs for this organization that serves 2,500 older adults every day and employs 1,200 team members.
Having never worked as part of a team before, I feared I’d be continuously getting in their way in the time it took me to get acclimated to the new environment. I found a comfortable middle ground in working on things I knew how to do, like editing designs in Canva, a design software,and drafting Instagram posts, while they taught me how to do new things, like post blogs to the website and make branded content.
Early on, we figured out that my primary intern project would be writing a blog post about Betty Allan, a resident who recently celebrated her 100th birthday and participated in the pilot group of the Equine Assisted Learning Program at GHBC. One of the highlights of my internship was accompanying this group of residents to their session at Simple Changes, a therapeutic riding center in Mason Neck, Virginia, where I took photos of residents with horses and observed the session.
With the help of Marketing and Communications Specialist Amanda Ranowsky, I went on to conduct interviews with the program’s coordinators and with team members close to Betty. Then, I got the opportunity to interview Betty and learn about her long and adventurous life. When the article was complete, I posted it to the website myself.
Throughout the weeks I worked on my first blog post, I felt my talents improve. As I became more familiar with the company and my role here, I noticed myself making strides in the quality of my work every day and felt like my contributions were valued. Though this organization is large, everyone who works here is incredibly kind and welcoming. All my previous jobs before Goodwin Living were in hospitality, so I recognize and honor the effort it takes to make this such a welcoming place.
It certainly helps that Goodwin Living ensures the dedication and comfort of both residents and team members by providing them with a network of support and resources. One of the most inspiring examples of this, to me, was witnessing Marketing and Communications Coordinator Nada Boris get paired with resident tutors from Goodwin House Alexandria who helped her study for (and pass) her U.S. citizenship exam.
I also learned a lot and gained a great deal of support from my own resident mentor Martha, who graciously answered all my questions about resident activities and attitudes. I appreciate her for filling me in on all the gaps in my knowledge about Goodwin Living and sharing her perspective as both a resident and dedicated observer. She was also a great confidant as I updated her each week on the progress of my internship. Through her, I received advice from someone with a full career under their belt. We never ran out of things to talk about.
Though the senior living and healthcare industry wasn’t the place I expected to first apply my journalism studies, I quickly realized that Goodwin Living requires people from all kinds of industries and backgrounds in order to thrive. I hope to continue working at non-profit organizations like this one in the future because I admire team members’ commitment to the mission that drives the work done here.
Team members collaborating for the benefit of residents, members and patients is what makes the whole Goodwin Living community feel like a family. I will miss spending time with the MarComms team, especially petting office pets Remi and Willit (Kathie’s cat) while talking zombie apocalypse strategies with Marketing and Communications Specialist Timaeus Reed. Still, I appreciate all the guidance they’ve given me this summer and I will look back fondly on my experience at Goodwin Living.
Katrina Hauser is a rising senior at The George Washington University studying Journalism and Mass Communication and English. Originally from New Jersey, Katrina is the Summer 2023 intern for the Goodwin Living Marketing and Communications team. She assists in drafting internal and external communications, monitoring blog content and maintaining our social media presence. At school, she hosts her own radio show and serves as Assistant Director of Public Relations for the Student Association. In her free time, Katrina enjoys reading, traveling and spending time with friends.