From Fellow to Intern: An Interview with Crystal Cardenas, Communications Intern, Braven at San José State University

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By: Viviana Uribe, Communications Intern, Braven at Rutgers University – Newark


Crystal Cardenas, Communications Intern, Braven at San José State UniversityViviana: How was your experience as a Braven Fellow?

Crystal: My experience as a Fall 2016 Fellow was nothing short of amazing. During my Fellowship, I unlocked my hunger for leadership. As the Project Manager for my cohort, #SuccessIsOurOnlyOption, I led my team of five to design a new interface for Yahoo Mail. This experience helped me to better understand peoples’ different working styles and in turn, strengthen my managerial skills. I am so grateful to have had the Braven Fellow experience — I have become a stronger and more independent woman looking to change the world and lead with humility.


Viviana: What skills did you learn in Braven that helped you in your internship?

Crystal: While there are many skills that have helped me in my internship with Braven, the two most valuable skills I learned were project management and leading with purpose. The project management skills I learned through Braven have helped me in my current position by allowing me to streamline the many tasks of a fast-paced startup environment.

One tool I’ve used for this process are excel sheets. Anyone who truly knows me will know that I am a Google Sheets fangirl for sure! Secondly, leading with purpose has helped me by leaps and bounds. Whenever I notice I am becoming overwhelmed with tasks, I always think back to something I was continuously reminded of during my fellowship: leading with purpose. It’s quite simple – I take a few minutes to sit back and reflect on the impact my work will have on students and the global workforce, fueling my excitement to produce quality work.


Viviana: How has Braven impacted you?

Crystal: I don’t believe I could ever really sum up the ways Braven has impacted me. I still remember the first day of Learning Lab in Fall 2016 when our amazing team member, Edgardo Perez, first asked us, “How are Y’all feeling now and how do you hope to feel after Braven?” I was the first person to raise my hand and say, “I am so insecure about my abilities and I hope to gain more confidence.”

Fast forward to today, I look back on that moment and giggle because I am a completely different person. Since then, I have learned so much about myself, the type of team I want to be a part of, the work I want to pursue, and exactly why I want to be a leader. I want to be that woman — the woman who inspires others to be the absolute best version of themselves, the woman who demonstrates and doesn’t debate, the woman who will continue to pave the path for others to follow, and the woman who truly lives her legacy.


Viviana: What is the best part of being an intern at Braven?

Crystal: The best part of being an intern at Braven is being surrounded by so many knowledgeable people. Every time I come into the office, I always leave having learned something new. Whether it’s a new digital marketing skill from our Program Manager, Lesley Alegría, or resume and cover letter advice from our Operations Coordinator, Martha Mendoza, I am always enlightened with new ideas on how to improve the efficiency of our program and my own professional development.

I am forever grateful to be part of the Braven familia!