The Voice of Gemini Ink: Marketing For a Nonprofit
My name is Thảo Đinh, and I am an international student from Hà Nội, Việt Nam. I am a rising senior in the Class of 2023 majoring in International Studies with aconcentration in International Development and a minor in Creative Writing at Trinity University, located in sunny San Antonio, Texas. Thanks to the Arts, Letters, and Enterprise program (A.L.E) at Trinity University, I had the pleasure of working for Gemini Ink, San Antonio’s Writing Arts Center, as a full-time Marketing intern this summer of 2022.
I learned about Gemini Ink from my Grant Writing class at Trinity, where I wrote a simulated grant proposal for Gemini Ink for a mental health journaling class for the Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) community in San Antonio. I was instantly drawn to the organization after finding that my core values align with their mission “to teach the craft of writing to people of all levels so that they can bring their stories to life.” I have always been a storyteller, and I believe in the power of storytelling as well as helping people discover their voices. In my 9-week summer internship at Gemini Ink, I saw how this mission translates to real-life, impactful work.
I dived right into work in my first two days, familiarizing myself with a variety of tasks that helped enhance my skills, including promotional writing, social media management, event PR and documentation, as well as prep and execution. During the first week, the staff was visiting the Guadalupe Theater for a walk-through for “Black and Blue: 400 Years of Struggle and Transcendence” as part of the Sterling Houston Festival. The month-long series of events was presented by a city-wide collaboration of arts organizations honoring the late gay African-American playwright and San Antonio native Sterling Houston. Because of these events, I experienced San Antonio through different lenses, particularly through the supportive arts and writing community and beautiful venues that I might otherwise be clueless about.
On my third day at work, I was down with Covid. Initially, I thought that it was all bad. But as a result, I realized how accommodating and encouraging the Gemini Ink staff was. I instantly became comfortable with the whole team behind Gemini Ink and slowly learned what made a nonprofit function, including being kind towards your coworkers. The hybrid model also helped, and since I got along with my supervisor, Anisa Onofre, completely fine, we could work seamlessly through Google chats.
Once I was back on my feet, the official Sterling Houston festival was imminent. Closely followed were other events that I decided to proctor both in-person and virtual. It was on these event dates that taught me the most. Besides technical knowledge such as learning how to maximize Buffer and Canva, I gained many hands-on learning experiences as I multi-tasked everything from marketing tasks like promoting, documenting, doing live videos, and uploading stories on social media platforms, to various unnamed soft skills like assorting fruits & cheese, greeting guests, tabling, running errands, and figuring out how to use a cashier app on-the-spot to help authors sell their books. Though the events typically occurred outside of working hours, I enjoyed organizing and networking with talented writers, poets, and artists. Those were also the times when I learned the truth behind the phrase “teamwork makes the dream work.”
I was glad that I had the opportunity to set aside time to proctor and help with live events whenever I could. A large part of my motivation was interacting directly with the authors, writers, artists, students, and attendees and seeing my hard work come to fruition. Through Gemini Ink’s events, I was exposed to a variety of “interesting characters,” (for example, a traveling Alaskan fiddler poet). These meetings helped me understand that anyone can be a writer and writers can look like anyone.
And there I was, part of a team making positive changes to facilitate these writers and students finding their voice and place in the world. I perceived the human value in this job, making my work so much more meaningful and enjoyable.
Nevertheless, however exciting a full-time job may be, I learned that not every day will be extraordinary. There were lethargic days when I could have been more focused, more productive, and more innovative, but I was not. And that was normal. It was reassuring for me to know I had a caring team who provided accommodation when needed, and who understood I needed to take breaks at times. In fact, one of the pieces of advice that came up frequently when I first started my job was Anisa’s urging me to rest when work hours ended. These reminders helped me maintain my flame through a long summer of rigorous work, without burning myself out sooner or later, making it a good choice for a long-term job.
On top of all the lessons I learned through my amazing summer internship at Gemini Ink, I can walk away with a clearer understanding of what I want in a future career: a workplace that is flexible, creative, caring, and meaningful. I hope to continue this kind of work in the future, and will definitely come back whenever possible.
Reflecting on the experience, I feel fortunate to receive so much care and support from Gemini Ink staff and their partners: thank you Alexandra for being attentive despite your busy schedule, Florinda for your high sense of responsibility, Mandy for your upbeat spirit, Josh for your frequent check-in talks, Jake for being a great fellow coworker and food-exploring partner, and especially Anisa for the music, journaling, Starbucks, conversations, and constant comfort! I would also like to deliver my thanks to Trinity University’s A.L.E program: thank you my Trinity summer supervisor Dr. Carlisle for being my food fairy during quarantine and making time to catch up with me while traveling abroad, thank you Dr. Tingle and Dr. Leafstedt for being one of the best professors who go above and beyond to care for their students’ wellbeing and future endeavors. Thank you the Center for Experiential Learning and Career Success (CELCS) for making internships like these possible and for visiting organizations in person to see how we are doing. Without any of these wonderful contributors, I’m sure my experience would have been less.
At Trinity University, Thảo is the president of the Bullet Journal Club, which she started on campus in 2019. She has also been a member of the Michael Neidorff School of Business Dean’s Student Advisory Council, the president of the International Club, a writer for the Trinity Review, a HOPE Hall leader, a Vietnamese Student Association officer, an O-Team member, an FYE Creative Genius peer tutor, an Admissions intern, and a member of Omicron Delta Kappa Leadership National Honor Society.
Outside of the classroom, Thảo enjoys creating art. She recently got her short stories, photography, and artworks published, had her short film screened at a film festival, and played the lead role in the theater production “Waiting for Godot.”
This fall, Thảo plans to study abroad in Copenhagen, Denmark. Her core course, “Prostitution and the Sex Trade in Europe,” will allow her to tackle a silent yet prominent societal issue and spend a week studying in Amsterdam, Netherlands.