Spotlight: Jack Avery, Public Policy Intern at UWBA - United Way Bay Area
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Spotlight: Jack Avery, Public Policy Intern at UWBA

August 3, 2017

A recent graduate from UCLA and Public Policy intern at UWBA, Jack Avery is a motivated young professional ready to tackle his career. His journey with UWBA didn’t start with this summer internship though.

Jack was previously a youth in our MatchBridge program, which places young people in jobs and internships that enable work-based learning. He then secured an internship at the law firm, Reed Smith LLP, assisting paralegals through the Mayor’s Youth Jobs+ Summer Internship Program, an experience that boosted his confidence and provided him with lifelong professional skills.

Jack shared that his work with UWBA has shaped his professional development, and leaves him feeling satisfied, energized, and excited for what is to come. From finding a mentor in Amalia Chamorro (UWBA’s Vice President of Public Policy) to discovering an interest in public policy, see what Jack has to say about his goals and experiences.


What motivated you to join MatchBridge?

I was at San Francisco City College at the time and I wanted to engage in professional development and gain meaningful employment opportunities. I was on the mailing list for Business Pathways, an opportunity for professional development, so I applied to the program. I ended up interning at a law firm in downtown San Francisco and it was a good opportunity to gain professional skills while I was still in school.


What was your experience with MatchBridge like? What was the most valuable thing you gained from your experience?

It was good. When I first graduated, about a year after high school, I got a job at UPS and that was good experience. I enjoyed my Business Pathways internship, and I made great friends there.

Following my internship, I was connected to Amalia at UWBA as I was interested in the public policy sector. I kept in contact with Amalia ever since. Upon graduating, she offered me this internship. This networking connection, made possible by my internship with MatchBridge, was very valuable. I was happy to be able to add Amalia to my circle of mentors.

Another thing that was important was being able to explore different career options while I was still in school. The law firm I worked at was great–everyone was welcoming at the internship, but I also realized that I did not want to pursue litigation. It was a good time for me to explore different paths.


What motivated your decision to come back to UWBA as a Policy Intern?

I’ve been in contact with Amalia as a mentor for about three or four years, but I wanted to deepen that relationship and have someone in my court who I could rely on in the long-term.

I know from personal experience that the work UWBA does is beneficial. I’ve seen that in myself, through my experience with MatchBridge, and through friends I’ve made in the program. In general, I want to try to give back and help and I know that United Way is a great organization that does that.

I also wanted to be involved with public policy side of things, because that’s where my interests lie.


What do you hope to achieve from your current internship with UWBA?

I hope to gain real world job experience. A lot of the skills and academic theory I’ve learned in school are applicable, but it’s still very different being in policy work in the real world.

I want to develop my skills, broaden my network, give back, and embark on my career. Working with United Way, and especially being on the policy team, I get to meet several people, from nonprofits, to organized labor, policymakers, and elected officials.

I appreciate that I’ve been able to hear Congresswomen DeLauro speak about the importance of social safety nets while Leader Nancy Pelosi delivered opening remarks — it really has been an insightful and memorable experience.

This is also a great way for me to gain perspective on how organizations work together in the public service sector. Because of this internship, I plan to meet with a lot of people to see what direction I want to take next in my career.


Everyday United Way helps Bay Area residents make life changing moments — why is it important for you to support others in making their moment?

It was the way that I was raised. My parents were good about helping me be aware that not everyone has the same opportunities as me, and that I needed to give back. I used to go with my mom and work at soup kitchens on the weekends.

As I got older, I didn’t do well in high school because of personal reasons. I graduated, but instead of going to get a four-year degree, I worked for a year and then went to community college.

In the end, I made choices that enabled me to succeed, but I also received a lot of help along the way. It’s given me a deeper appreciation of how not everyone receives equal opportunities. As someone who has had the ability to pursue want I want in my life, I feel that I have a responsibility to try and give back to help others.


Do you have a goal that energizes you every day?

My goal is to find a way to earn a comfortable living doing something I’m passionate about and that I find fulfilling. I have that here at UWBA.

When I’m finished with my work day here, I feel satisfied, fulfilled, and happy. It’s an awesome feeling — genuinely enjoying what I’m doing. It’s a contrast to everything I’ve done before this. I liked school, but this experience feels better before, after, and during.


About Jack Avery

Jack Avery is a San Francisco native. He grew up on the Bayshore/Alemany side of Bernal Heights and went to school in San Francisco. In June 2017, Jack graduated from UCLA with a B.A. in Political Science.

At UCLA, he participated in a research and internship program in Washington D.C. and interned with the State Department, Office of Monetary Affairs.

He’s proud to have kept in contact with his many mentors, and is loving his summer internship with UWBA’s Public Policy team.