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Community Fellows Blog Posts

Natalia Rey: A Part of the Change

Natalia’s First Impressions on Her Fellowship

As a fellow interning at the San Jose City Office of Economic Development and Cultural Affairs (OEDCA), I have had the pleasure of partaking in the advancement of economic recovery by means of Marketing and Communications. Prior to taking on the fellowship, I set certain expectations for my position: it would involve social media marketing, business outreach, and elements of public policy.

My first day in the office exceeded my expectations– I immediately felt like an asset to the marvelous staff around me. Among my first chats with my supervisor, she summarized the functions and objectives of the Economic Development office to build value on the work I would be doing. My supervisor explained that while the focus of the office in years past had been to attract Fortune500 companies to build San Jose’s economy, COVID-19 had completely shifted the City’s priorities. A spotlight was finally given to local small business owners, and individuals accruing immense economic pressure. The OEDCA’s priorities are now aligned with needs of highly-impacted communities; and so, my position as a Marketing-Communications Intern is an opportunity to provide locals with economic, cultural, and social support whether that be through business grants, workshops for entrepreneurs, or community event promotion.

One of my first and most memorable experiences at the OEDCA was helping promote entry-level manufacturing jobs in San Jose. Leading figures in San Jose’s manufacturing industry opened their doors to highschoolers in honor of California’s Manufacturing Week. I arrived at the Nevarez Machining facility to observe, document, and understand the tours in which City Council Member David Cohen was also attending. The City of San Jose initiative was meant to optimize manufacturing and build a job market for local residents through entry-level employment and training. My attendance at the manufacturing tour helped me reflect the goal of the initiative appropriately when it came time to market the tours for locals. Because I feel directly connected to the purpose behind the City’s initiatives, I feel like I am directly impacting the community as well.

Immense potential to contribute to the community is ingrained in my fellowship. Since the first day, my voice in the office has been listened to, respected, and encouraged to grow. My experiences working in past internships have revolved around development, in a business solution or a marketing strategy, but the OEDCA develops people. Especially after COVID-19, the staff devote themselves to developing San Jose’s people first. I hope to contribute my desire to develop San Jose’s self-made entrepreneurs and unique business districts that deserve a sustainable recovery process. I am thrilled to be in an environment of people motivated by a genuine care for community building.

LSB Fellows,2022-2023