Name: Raquel Martinez
Class Year: 2023
Major: Linguistics and Creative Writing
Hometown: Matagalpa, Nicaragua
Internship Organization: Blossom
Job Title: Quality Assurance Intern
Location: Remote, based in New York City
What’s happening at your internship?
This summer, I was a quality assurance intern at Blossom, a start-up company building a library of multilingual, interactive eBooks, videos, and games for children. Blossom implements translanguaging into its books using a mixed-language approach to gradually introduce new vocabulary and grammatical structures in a target language. Blossom’s goal is to become a tool for both multilingual immigrant families and for the classroom, where kids of different language backgrounds can read and learn together in different languages.
Working as a full-time intern, I undertook various tasks that applied my linguistics and creative writing majors. For example, in every Blossom book, users can set the story's text to display a mix of two languages – such as 90% English and 10% Spanish. I spent most of my time at Blossom creating these language mixes! I parsed out the text in both English and Spanish and blended them into appropriate and natural-sounding combinations. In order to do this, I researched code-switching and examined how children use Spanglish. In addition, I worked on composing eBooks on Blossom’s website, reviewing and completing Spanish translations where necessary, and rewriting portions of stories to fit classroom standards.
Working remotely and internationally, I had daily Zoom meetings with fellow interns and supervisors to check in on our work. Despite this distance, building connections was surprisingly easy, and I enjoyed getting to know my coworkers.
Why did you apply for this internship?
I applied for an internship at Blossom because it perfectly aligned with my personal goals as well as my academic interests. As a linguistics and creative writing double major, I have always been nervous about finding meaningful jobs that apply my education, let alone apply both my majors at once. However, Blossom presented the opportunity! I was able to use my creative side while working on book writing and my linguistic side while translating and making language blends.
Blossom’s mission also greatly appealed to my personal goal to positively affect the lives of multilingual families. As a Spanish-speaking immigrant to the United States in her teens, my mother raised me on stories of being an ESOL (English to Speakers of English Languages) student. These stories were always full of xenophobia and stigmatism in the classroom.
Multilingual immigrant families are often faced with the decision of abandoning the education of their heritage language in order to encourage their children's success in English-dominated classrooms. Losing a heritage language can make younger generations feel isolated from their extended family and segregated from their cultural identity. Having grown up experiencing the impacts of prioritizing English in the classroom, Blossom's creation of translanguaging resources felt personally important to me.
What has been the biggest challenge you have faced at your internship?
As a start-up company in its proof of product phase, Blossom continually challenged my task management skills and flexibility. Because there was so much work to be done, there were always new tasks lined up that didn't necessarily fit under the roles I was hired for. This was both the biggest challenge and the greatest opportunity of my internship. Every day, I found myself trying out various jobs that I might otherwise have never been exposed to. As a result, I got better at prioritizing my tasks and learned not to be afraid to reach out to my supervisors to help me prioritize when needed.
From bugs and badly timed website crashes, to new updates requiring the redoing of entire tasks, working with a developing website and project challenged my flexibility. Every day felt a bit like uncharted territory. However, whatever we worked on, there was always a palpable sense of progressing the company as a whole! Overall, learning these skills of flexibility and task management gave me new confidence in being able to tackle whatever changes came next.
What has been your favorite part of this internship?
My favorite part of this internship has been assisting in rewriting and reviewing Blossom books in preparation for publication and site launch. I've always been passionate about children's stories, and being directly involved with Blossom’s book writing process was a wonderful experience.
This work has given me an opportunity to understand how the functionality of a book as an educational tool meets the need for a book to be fun and engaging for children. Compromising between the different necessary aspects of each story taught me how to edit down books and find solutions to building better plots. Excitingly, my rewrite of one of the books will be used for Blossom’s marketing!
Visit the Summer Internship Stories page to read more about student internship experiences.