Meet Christina, intern extraordinaire. You may have seen Christina teaching tiny tots how to balance at our Freedom from Training Wheels workshop, or volunteering as a Bicycle Ambassador at one of dozens of events across town. You probably haven’t been able to see the incredible work she’s been doing behind the scenes for two semesters now, helping with projects including Commuter Convoys on Bike to Work Day and helping keep our bike education programs running smoothly. We caught up with Christina to hear more about her intern experience:
You’ve been interning with the SF Bicycle Coalition since February. How did you first get involved? What motivated you to start volunteering?
I moved here in October from Ireland where I had been biking as my main form of transport, but since we drive on left and have different rules of the road I was nervous about cycling here. After doing some research I attended an “Introduction to Urban Bicycling” class at a bike build in Bayview, where I also joined as a member and got to meet a number of the staff. I was amazed at the work and successes of the organization and inspired by the passion and enthusiasm of the staff (to be there voluntarily on a weekend!) Shortly after, I attended a member mingle where I learned more about the important work of volunteers and interns and realized I could contribute.
What has been your favorite volunteer or intern moment?
It’s hard to choose because there have been so many great moments and achievements, but one that stands out is the first Bike Party I went to with a group of other SF Bicycle Coalition interns. It was the week before Bike to Work Day and we all had flags to promote it on our bikes and were talking to people about how to get involved. It was amazing to see not only the support for the organization and the diversity of the participants but how important biking is to the culture of the city. I’ve never seen anything like it before and was blown away by the atmosphere, the spirit of volunteerism and how respectful participants were of each other and their surroundings. I had so much fun with my fellow interns and got to see parts of the city I had not seen before.
You’ve done a lot of work with our Freedom from Training Wheels workshops. What do you enjoy about that program?
I love how adaptable the program is for different levels so that kids of any age or ability can enjoy getting on a bike. It’s great to be able to cater for different levels, as all kids are so different and learn at different speeds. Some kids turn up having barely been on a balance bike before and are pedaling by the end of the session, but it’s also great to see the kids who don’t get it straight away and are determined to practice because they’re having fun. Some parent take a real interest and want to learn everything they can to help their kids develop balance skills so they can continue at practicing home. Seeing kids having fun and wanting to be on bikes is such a great thing and amazing to be a part of!
What advice would you give to someone thinking about interning with us?
The internship program at the SF Bicycle Coalition is an experience that you would not get in larger organizations or a corporate environment. The value of the work is more than just the hours you spend in the office at a computer and you have the opportunity to learn from others who will gladly talk with you about their areas of expertise. As a small organization, you get to see the inner workings of a nonprofit and really become part of the team and know that your work is appreciated. The staff do everything they can to make sure you have an enriching and worthwhile experience and that you get to work on projects that are not just important to the work of the organization but interesting for you.
I would say consider your strengths and apply for a position that you feel you will both learn from and enjoy. There’s a wealth of expertise and knowledge in the office to learn from and help you develop skills for your chosen area so take advantage of every opportunity that is shared with you.
Want to intern like Christina? Check out our intern positions and apply online at sfbike.org/jobs.