Ordinarily OFN has the great fortune of hosting a remarkable group of interns each summer. However, 2020 is no ordinary year and unfortunately we had to cancel our summer intern program once the pandemic hit. When Holly Yu approached OFN's strategic communications team about joining us anyway, we decided to give her remote internship a whirl—and we're so glad we did! Holly has been working virtually with our strategic communications and public policy teams to support a variety of projects in this pivotal moment for the CDFI industry and the communities we serve.
Before she heads back to University of Richmond for her senior year, we asked Holly to share a little bit about herself and her experience with OFN this summer.
Bio: I grew up in Lower Merion, Pennsylvania, where I enjoyed playing on my high school’s varsity tennis team and tutoring elementary school students from Philadelphia public schools. I am now a rising senior at the University of Richmond studying Business Administration and Leadership Studies with a concentration in Marketing.
My main passions and interests include social justice causes and equal opportunity, sustainability in the fashion industry, and the influence of digital marketing on society. I hope to gain more insights into marketing and communications strategies utilized by OFN in order to spread awareness about the CDFI industry and its impact.
OFN position: Strategic Communications Intern
School: University of Richmond
Major: Double major in Business Administration and Leadership Studies with a concentration in Marketing
Hometown: Lower Merion, Pennsylvania
Hidden talent: I can complete a 1,000-piece puzzle from start to finish in just one day!
“Holly stepped up to support our team in an exceptionally challenging and unusual time. We're so grateful for her positive attitude, willingness to dive right in to any task, and her ability to produce high quality work. We wish Holly an awesome, albeit unconventional, senior year ahead!”
- Caroline Valvardi, Senior Associate, Strategic Communications at OFN
Why did you decide to intern at OFN this summer?
Throughout my time at the University of Richmond as a Leadership Studies and Business double major, I’ve gained a unique perspective on the business world. While my business courses teach me about the foundational skills and knowledge within various industries, particularly marketing, my leadership courses continue to challenge me in other ways. They encourage me to think critically and creatively and to continually analyze and consider ways that past and current leaders have influenced societal change, and how future leaders should do so. For example, one of my courses gave me the opportunity to volunteer at an inner-city Richmond high school where 98 percent of the student population is Black, with a majority living in low-income housing. All of my learning experiences have led to my growing interest in working with organizations that have a higher purpose, like OFN’s focus on economic opportunity and justice. I am grateful I was introduced to Lina Page (OFN's Executive Vice President, Strategic Communications) during my sophomore year of college so I could interview her for a business course paper, and now I’m able to work with her and her team!
What have been your favorite projects to work on?
Many of the projects I have focused on this summer have required a lot of data analysis. For example, I’ve used Hootsuite and Google Analytics to track OFN’s social media performance and audience engagement. As someone who enjoys the analytical side of digital marketing, these have been some of my favorite projects. I’ve discovered more about the types of audiences that are most attracted to OFN, as well as what new audiences OFN may want to pursue. In today’s world, so much revolves around the digital space and I have enjoyed learning about how the strategic communications team utilizes digital strategies and tools, especially during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and the current social justice movement.
What have you learned about OFN and the CDFI industry that has stood out to you most?
Prior to this internship experience, I was aware of the main goals and objectives OFN aimed to accomplish through the CDFI industry. Now I have greater knowledge of how OFN actually goes about helping small businesses and communities, as well as the wide network of member CDFIs helping specific populations. I am especially grateful that I've been able to work with OFN at a time of such increased visibility for the CDFI industry and had the opportunity to attend a major virtual event like OFN’s Small Business Finance Forum, as well as other virtual industry events. Even simply listening and learning from team meetings has given me greater insight into the amount of effort that goes into the work OFN and its member CDFIs do.
How are you managing to have fun outside OFN in this summer of COVID-19?
This summer I have been spending a lot more time with my family, and learning to appreciate my time with them more, before eventually graduating from college. I have also been spending socially-distanced time with close friends by going on walks outside or daytrips to the beach. These past few months in quarantine have also given me a greater appreciation for home-cooked meals and finding new ways to stay active, like online yoga classes. My parents are definitely happy that I have been learning a lot of new cooking and baking recipes for them to try and review!
What’s next for your career plans and how has your experience at OFN informed them?
Once I finish my senior year of college, I hope to work for an organization that combines my many interests and passions for social justice, digital marketing, and sustainability. My experience so far at OFN has been a continual reminder of the kind of work I hope to do in the future. I am grateful for the experiences it has given me so far, both in the day-to-day tasks I have worked on and in my overall learning. It has shown me how to keep educating myself about important current events and news that others would choose to ignore.