Liberal Arts student uses internship to help increase diversity in media

Ellie West
August 27, 2021

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — In today’s media landscape, the existence of the female point of view is one that is often under-published and under-shared, according to Penn State senior Hannah Nelson — who hopes to change that narrative.

This summer, Nelson worked as a remote communications intern for Global Girl Media, a nonprofit focused on teaching young women in under-served communities about digital media, journalism and media literacy, all in an effort to give female storytellers a place at the table.

“Global Girl’s whole mission is to get young women of color into the media industry,” Nelson said. “For so long there has been a gap in who is telling stories — it's a very white and male-dominated area. Obviously, there are a lot of experiences that need to be shared through a female perspective, so Global Girl is trying to focus on creating communities where these young women of color can really learn and share these stories.”

Nelson, who is double majoring in history and digital and print journalism, was largely responsible for the organization’s social media content creation.

“I was given full reign on their social media platforms in terms of finding content to post, interviewing people, and also just doing my own research to find out different things about media and diversity within media," said Nelson.

The Pittsburgh native said she was able to learn critical researching skills and gain experience using “nonprofit language,” specifically how to effectively communicate with donors, participants and supporters. Nelson’s biggest takeaway, however, was learning the importance of media training for young women of color.

“I think it's crucial for there to be more diversity in the media, so to have found an organization like Global Girl that truly focuses on creating those learning opportunities was great,” she said. “They are doing really important work.”

On top of Global Girl’s focus on diversity, Nelson was also driven to apply to the internship due to the organization’s dedication to advocating for women.

“I am a huge feminist, so a big part of what I do in my spare time is focus my efforts toward female-centered organizations. There is a lot of work that needs to be done in terms of equality and representation, and Global Girl just seemed like the perfect place for me to continue with that advocacy," said Nelson.

At Penn State, Nelson is the social media director for the digital publication Her Campus. She also serves as the president and co-founder of Survivors and Allies United (SAU), an organization that is committed to creating a safe, supportive space for survivors of sexual assault.

A student in both the College of the Liberal Arts and the Bellisario College of Communications, Nelson was able to translate knowledge from both of her degrees into her internship role.

“My courses gave me a really firm foundation. I never once felt like I didn’t know what I was doing, and I think that was because my classes at Penn State were able to prepare me so well,” she said. “My history degree specifically has helped me immensely. It’s taught me a lot about different communities and what their dynamics are and also just why the world looks like what it does today.”

With the internship being unpaid, Nelson said she is grateful for the financial support of the College of the Liberal Arts, which provided her with enrichment funding from the Career Enrichment Network throughout the duration of her work experience.

Moving forward, Nelson’s career aspirations lie heavily in nonprofit work, making her internship with Global Girl Media the perfect introduction to the field. This fall, she will continue to pursue this interest through an internship with Arts Ed Collaborative, a nonprofit based out of her hometown, Pittsburgh.

“I am really interested in working with an organization that revolves around women, diversity and inclusion, education or social issues, which is a pretty wide net, so I’m really excited to see where I’ll go after graduation,” she said.

For fellow Penn State students who have an interest in working for a nonprofit organization, Nelson emphasized the importance of staying true to oneself.

“Be yourself, be honest, treat people with respect, and remember why you’re doing what you’re doing every day,” she said. “The work you do can improve people’s lives. Some days are going to be tough, but if you try your hardest and be honest with people, that will go a long way.”

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated August 30, 2021