Eleanor works on the communications team with SecondMuse as the digital media intern since November 2015. She works with LAUNCH and other innovation programs, where she works on blog posts, website maintenance, social media and communications strategies. Prior to joining SecondMuse, Eleanor interned in digital communications in multiple fields including nonprofit, public media and government, and was the editor-in-chief of AWOL Magazine.
When she’s not thinking up titles for blog posts or researching innovators, Eleanor sings in a choir, goes on hikes, and holes herself up in her tiny Washington, D.C. kitchen, where she likes to cook.
1. You’ve had a chance to dig deeply on several open innovation projects at SecondMuse including the Pacific Humanitarian Challenge and our flagship project LAUNCH. Which innovators stories inspire you the most?
One of my favorite parts of my job is learning about innovators and gushing about their projects to anyone who will listen. The ones that inspire me the most are finding innovators who are working on projects in fields that I’m interested in and know a bit about. For the Pacific Humanitarian Challenge, all those projects were totally new to me because I have no experience in humanitarian aid (now I do!). With LAUNCH, I’ve gotten to look at projects that have to do with themes I’m interested in.
For example, Florence Kamaitha, is working to make cheaper and more sustainable hygiene products so girls won’t have to miss school when they get their periods. Another one, Vigga Svensson, runs a company where baby clothes are leased instead of bought, so parents create less waste as their children grow quickly. These innovations, speak to my interests in gender equality and in making everyday actions more sustainable. Of course, there are 77 innovators, so there’s more than two who are amazing! I’m very excited to see what happens with the Food Revolution cycle because I’ve done research and writing about food in the past.
2. What drives you as a budding storyteller and journalist?
It’s really important to me that I can do good with my writing. Meaning, I don’t think it would be enough for me to write for entertainment only, though that would be fun. I want to be able to write something that can educate and inspire people to action or change the views of the readers. I think caring for the environment is the biggest cause we’re facing globally now, but there are so many other issues that are interesting and exciting to write about because there are problems that need to be solved.
During our spring retreat, a colleague and I were discussing his ideas for the SecondMuse social media accounts, which I manage. He had so many ideas and I was impressed– but he said that ideas are cheap, it’s the follow-through that’s worth something. That’s something that I’ve thought about a lot since then. When I was working in a newsroom I struggled with finding stories to pitch because I thought they had to be top-notch. Now it feels like I can let go of the first idea being great for anything that I do and just focus on making follow-through the best it can be. It’s an idea that’s driving me right now.
3. You’ve worked virtually for the past six months. What are the benefits and challenges of working with a virtual company?
Working virtually is more challenging than I thought it would be. Working across many time zones between colleagues and clients can mean that communication is less clear and definitely slowed down from in-person or over the phone. SecondMuse is good at meeting online almost every week for face-to-face meetings, but I wish there could also be more casual conversations– like over lunch or at the water cooler. There are so many people with awesome stories and it takes longer to hear about them when emails are all business.
That said, it certainly has perks– more flexible hours, not having to commute, and working in pajamas (I’m definitely guilty of that). One of the weaknesses becomes a strength in getting to work with talented people around the world. When I tell people the company I work for is totally virtual, they’re skeptical to the reasoning behind it. But it seems clear that if you limit yourself by geographic location, you’re not going to get the best possible people in every role. Remembering that makes me feel extra lucky to work here.
4. You love to cook. Share one of your favorite recipes.
Cooking and baking are excellent stress-relief for me, plus there’s the bonus of sharing and making friends happy with good food. My go-to dessert recipe for a potluck or rough week is Cocoa Brownies from Alton Brown. I’m not pretending it’s a healthy recipe, but they are so rich and wonderful once in a while– and they go fast at an event. I have to pick my baking recipes carefully because I don’t have a mixer– this one could be done in just one bowl.