As my internship with Metro Drug Coalition comes to a close, I have been reflecting on the amazing experiences I’ve had here. From running social media pages and creating blog posts to doing an on-air interview and attending my first board meeting, I have gained valuable insight on working in communications for a nonprofit.

While having a plan is always important, I have learned that flexibility and adapting to unexpected situations is key when it comes to working in media relations. Some days are unpredictable, so adjusting both my mindset and my schedule helped me stay flexible and calm. I have also discovered the importance of building and maintaining partnerships with a variety of organizations, including other nonprofits, government leaders, hospitals and media. Watching several different organizations—all with different goals and functions—collaborate in order to address one critical issue was truly inspiring to witness. After this summer, I have even greater admiration for the Knoxville community and the leaders I have met that fight for a safer, healthier city.

Before I started at MDC, I knew next to nothing about addiction and the overdose crisis in Tennessee, even though I have lived here my entire life. After the last three months, I understand that substance abuse issues are far greater than I ever realized. While there are no simple solutions to such a complex problem, I know that I can always be an advocate for policy change, and I can support those suffering through addiction and the organizations that help them. Even though my time here is coming to an end, I will continue to promote healthier choices and support prevention and recovery programs in my community.

I will always be thankful for the valuable lessons I learned and the experiences I gained while working with MDC. Everyone at MDC is a passionate advocate for those affected by addiction, and I am proud to have been a small part of the amazing work they do in our community. I cannot wait to see all of the incredible things that this organization will continue to do in the future. Thank you for letting me join your family this summer!

-Molly Brinkley