My Virtual Internship with The Vegetarian Resource Group

By Clarissa Hauber, VRG Intern

My high
school internship with The Vegetarian Resource Group (VRG), which took place
over the 2020-2021 school year, was a fantastic experience. While VRG
internships typically occur in an in-person workplace, my internship was
entirely virtual due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Before applying for the
internship, I was unsure of what kind of internship I wanted and if I would
even be able to find one during COVID-19. However, it did not take many Google
searches before I found VRG. Having been vegetarian for three years and vegan
for about a year, I knew I wanted to get more involved with the veggie
community but was unsure how – interning for VRG was the perfect opportunity.
Working for VRG allowed me to get involved, discover interests within the food
studies field, and develop critical workplace skills.

     Even before my internship began, Charles
Stahler, my supervisor, reached out to me during the summer and gave me a list
of every assignment I would be doing, and instructed me with building a plan
for the next six months. At first, having to digitally map out my work calendar
seemed overwhelming and a bit intimidating, but it became a beneficial
experience, as it taught me how to time-manage and plan for months’ worth of
online projects.

     Soon after starting, Debra, one of Vegetarian Journal’s editors, asked me
to help with The VRG country-wide online restaurant guide – researching a
different restaurant each week and filling out a template with the restaurant
type, address, menu, etc. Working on the restaurant guide was simple, but with
each entry, I felt productive. Not to mention how great it was to see all the
unique vegan dishes that so many restaurants had to offer.

     Not long after, I began writing my first
article. The topic was a teen FAQ, and I wrote about going vegan while living
in an omnivorous household. I had never written an article, and it proved to be
a valuable experience in developing my writing voice. In the article, I talked
about my own experience going vegan with an omnivorous family and provided the
reader with steps to do the same. I even had two of my vegan friends provide
some of their own insight!

    One aspect of the internship that I enjoyed
was how centralized it was around cooking. During the internship, one of the Vegetarian Journal editors, Rissa,
invited me to write for the Veggie Bits column of the VRG magazine. The first
Veggie Bits I completed was a review of four different variations of a
veggie-based pasta. I got to cook each pasta and write a review at the end.
Aside from Veggie Bits, Rissa also provided me with different Vegetarian Journal recipes to test and
provide feedback on. Some of my favorite recipes that I tried for her were a
BLT made from rice paper, tofu benedict with hollandaise sauce, and maple oat
milk popsicles!

     While the internship was virtual, I still
had great opportunities to collaborate with others and develop strong online
communication skills. In one instance, a student at Loyola University reached
out to me, asking for my opinion on some vegan food advertisements. I sent her
a few sentences of commentary for each ad, and she was able to use those in an
article she was writing. On another occasion, I compared the experiences of
three vegan teens in three different regions of the United States. I
interviewed two interns through email about their experiences as vegan teens. I
then compiled their answers and my own answers into an article. It was a unique
experience, as I got to talk to fellow vegan teens and gain insight into what
it’s like to be vegan in different parts of the country.

     One of the last assignments at VRG was
reviewing my favorite Baltimore restaurant, One World Café. This was an especially
fun assignment as I got to ramble about all the yummy foods they have. One
World Café is such a staple restaurant for me as a vegan; I was glad I had the
opportunity to encourage others to try it.

     Whether I was writing cookbook reviews,
restaurant reviews, essay commentary, articles, or was testing new recipes – my
internship at VRG was an exciting step into the world of vegan advocacy and
food studies. I look forward to applying what I’ve learned at VRG in my future
studies as a Global Public Health and Food Studies student at NYU next school
year.

For
more information about VRG internships, see vrg.org/student/index.php

To support VRG internships, donate at vrg.org/donate, call (410) 366-8343, or mail a check to VRG, P.O. Box 1463, Baltimore, MD 21203.