Crisis Text Line

The Cool Calm

The Cool Calm is the Crisis Text Line blog. Insights, data, stories, and other looks at our work in crisis intervention and technology.

Top 7 Things We Learned as Interns


We look forward to them every year: summer interns. We give interns impactful roles and the freedom to lead their own projects and initiatives. They bring a fresh perspective to the work we do, and we love having them around!

As we come to the end of the summer, we wanted to give our seven spectacular full-time interns the chance to talk about what they’ve learned during over the past 10 weeks. Click each heading to read an intern's story.

 + 1. Transparency is key to making a start-up run smoothly

As a college student, I assumed that success came from buckling down, keeping to myself, and focusing on my work. In school, independence was key. I tended to approach assignments with a set of blinders on. It took only thirty minutes working at Crisis Text Line to realize how that strategy wouldn’t work here.

On the first day of work, the interns and entire staff were herded into a large conference room. This was my first experience “Management Meeting”-- a two hour event dedicated to catching everyone up on each team’s progress. At first it seemed like overkill, but soon I realized how integral transparency and communication were to the organization. Through that meeting, all staff members are accountable to each other — they have to be ready to explain what they’re working on, and how those efforts fit into the larger goals of the organization. I leave Management Meeting each Tuesday with a more complete understanding of not just everyone else’s work, but also my own.

E.A, Coaching Intern

 + 2. Say yes to everything

Take advantage of every opportunity available, even if you don’t think you’re qualified. In our staff meeting, Nancy asked anyone who was interested in drug addiction to talk to her afterwards. Drug addiction has always interested me, so afterwards I asked to help with the project in whatever way I could. Seeing my interest, she gave me background on the project and asked me to be in charge of preparing a brief for a partner. Small catch: the brief was due in two days, which meant I had 48 hours to conduct research, schedule meetings with a team of in-office and remote employees, and then prepare a brief.

At first I was incredibly stressed to be handling a project on my own. However, my co-workers hardly batted an eyelid at working on a project led by an intern, and helped me every step of the way. And even though the partner ultimately decided not to pursue the project, the experience of getting to take it on was invaluable and affirmed how much trust Crisis Text Line had in me.

H.K., Marketing Intern

 + 3. Care about your company's mission, and never stop learning.

As a software engineer, I learned how fulfilling it can be to work for a not-for-profit organization. At first, the work we do as engineers can seem detached from the emotionally-taxing work of our Crisis Counselors, Supervisors, and Coaches. However, I learned early on in the internship that even the engineers at Crisis Text Line are driven by the same desire to serve people in crisis.

I learned that everyone is still learning. Even the most senior software engineers of the company are still learning every day how to be better coders, communicators, and teammates. The “Genius Programmer” myth is false, and so were all my other misconceptions about the tech industry. I hope to approach my future software engineering career with the same humility as the Crisis Text Line team.

N.C., Software Engineering Intern

 + 4. Be adaptable and ready for change.

The startup nature of Crisis Text Line means that the organization moves very quickly. In my short time here, several products have been conceived of and launched, projects have been altered or otherwise shut down, and there have been significant personnel changes. For example, the manager who I worked under this summer was recently given a promotion to an entirely different role. At the beginning of the summer, my rockstar of a boss was our Director of International, leading a massive initiative by herself. Her fantastic work led to a promotion as our Head of Product.

This change, while great for my manager, left me with questions. I had only recently settled into the office environment and my role and now felt unsure about what was going to happen to me: Would I be getting a new manager? Would I be moving to Product, too? Will my work completely change? I learned a great lesson from this change and my manager’s guidance: be open to change, be open to discomfort, and be ready for new challenges.

P.E., International Intern

 + 5. Grit is hard, but it's worth it.

I was ecstatic to start my internship at Crisis Text Line. The notion of producing actual design work for a real company was enticing, as were the stylish digs and allure of saying, “I intern at a tech startup.” As a junior in college, I thought I had enough experience for the job. I was confident that I could handle the work, whatever the assignment might be.

My first day was a bit of a rude awakening. After an unexpected change, my first assignment was animation — a field I had no experience in. It was the type of situation where I might be inclined to throw up my hands in defeat, but I couldn’t bear the thought of my first assignment at Crisis Text Line being a failure. I pressed on — spending many hours of trial and error (mostly error) trying to work out a solution. After many dead ends, I finally managed to animate my first video — a skill I didn’t have at the start of the day. I realized I could accomplish more than I ever thought possible with some grit and perseverance.

S.B., Graphic Design Intern

 + 6. Difficult work yields the best rewards.

Coming into the summer, I was not sure what to expect working for a mission-driven not-for-profit company. Throughout the 10 weeks, I was challenged with being fully onboarded to the engineering team. Even as an intern, I was expected to contribute an equal share of work. At times, the problems were challenging and stressful. But when changes were made to the live product, I never felt better, having resolved technically-challenging issues, while helping others at the same time! I’ve learned a lot throughout and will carry this onto my future endeavors.

K.H., Software Engineering Intern

 + 7. High Stress + Calm Environment = Balance

As a Crisis Counselor, I understood the intensity of this work. I was used to high stress conversations and managing my own self care regimen, but I never took into account the self care environment Crisis Text Line’s office itself would have.

Many tech start ups and other fast paced companies have a product focus above all else mentality. However, Crisis Text Line is different. Care is the most important thing. Their belief that you cannot help others before you help yourself truly resonates throughout all facets of the company and office atmosphere.

This has taught me that companies can prosper and grow when you have the right people and the right environment. Stress and rigidity are not the only characteristics that breed successful businesses.

S.B., Admissions Intern

Interested in interning with us? Check out Career and Internships for up-to-date information about available internships and full-time positions.