Whether you’re looking for that first job or the perfect internship, networking is key — especially when the network is made up of Sweet Briar alumnae. This spring, Sarah Lindemann ’13 (who assists staff photographer Meridith de Avila Khan during the school year) took advantage of it when she accompanied the media, marketing and communications office to Washington, D.C., to help with photographs during an interview session with area alumnae.
One of them was Susan Scanlan ’69, president of the National Council of Women’s Organizations (NCWO). Scanlan shared her business card with Lindemann, who called her the following week to inquire about Scanlan’s career, as well as possible internships with her organization. Lindemann’s initiative paid off — Scanlan offered her an unpaid job as a PR and photography intern over the summer.
“She essentially created the position for me,” Lindemann said. “If I hadn’t followed up with her, I never would have gotten this amazing internship!”
Since May, Lindemann has been photographing high-profile events in the capital, including a rally sponsored by the American Association of University Women in support of Betty Dukes and her case against Wal-Mart, a briefing on the current status of Title IX in honor of its 40th anniversary, and a press conference concerning the Paycheck Fairness Act. She also documented an event at the Finnish Embassy and took pictures at the 100th birthday celebration gala for the Girl Scouts of the USA held at the National Museum of American History.
With her photography skills in the spotlight from day one, it’s only natural that Lindemann felt a bit anxious.
“The night before I started my internship, I was so nervous,” she said. “I worried that I would get lost on my commute or be late, and most of all that the photographs I would be taking wouldn’t be good enough.”
Fortunately, Lindemann found her way just fine, and her photos prove there was nothing to worry about. After all, nobody expected perfect shots right off the bat.
“I still have so much to learn,” she admits. “[But] the women in my office were and still are incredibly supportive and encouraging.”
While Lindemann has enjoyed the challenge, she’s not sure whether she wants to pursue photography as a career. As an environmental studies major with a minor in journalism, new media and communications, her interests are varied — and fortunately, so is her internship.
Aside from taking pictures, Lindemann has been involved in NCWO’s social media campaign HERvotes, and has contributed to the organization’s blog. She’s also gained valuable insight into other areas she’s passionate about, such as “women’s rights, history and health care,” she said.
Through the end of July, Lindemann is participating in NCWO’s New Faces/More Voices summer leadership training, which includes seminars and workshops on lobbying, legislation and women’s history, as well as resume building, job hunting and salary negotiations. The program is designed specifically for NCWO interns.
“I’ve learned so much more about the inner workings of D.C. and how important networking and maintaining professional relationships is,” Lindemann said.
“I’ve also worked on teaching myself more about photographing events and creating an efficient workflow,” she added. “I have also learned how much I still have left to learn. Every day I have more questions about certain aspects of photography or politics, and how they can impact one another.”
Overall, the internship has left her well prepared for life after college — whatever it is she decides to do.
To learn more about the NCWO, visit the website or follow the organization on Facebook. The latter features many more photos by Lindemann, as well as information and links regarding women’s rights, health care and more.