Mackenzie Targarona ’18 @ Massachusetts Council on Compulsive Gambling

Posted on Posted in Externships, Student Contributor, Summer Opportunities

MassGamblingI chose to take part in the externship at the Massachusetts Council on Compulsive Gambling because, as a sociology major, I am strongly considering the possibility of working in a non­profit one day. Thus, I was thrilled at the opportunity to get to work with Mrs. Warner and her team and gain a behind the scenes look at what non­profit work entails. On our first day in Boston, Mrs. Marlene Warner introduced her staff to us and gave us a tour of her facility, as well as told us her story of how she ended up working here as the executive director. She told us about what she does as a director, as well as what it means to be a compulsive gambler. After introductions and getting warmed up to one another, we took a ride down to a casino for a meeting with the staff there to go over a new program called “Play My Way”. The first of its’ kind in the United States, this program allows individuals to voluntarily select a given amount of money they’d like to spend over a specified period of time, in order to keep their gambling habits in check. This was interesting because everyone was working together to point out flaws or suggest improvements for the design. When we returned to the Council the following day, we had a budget meeting with staff before heading to a Gambling Commission meeting, where we met people from gambling representatives in New York, to a Congressman for Massachusetts. Later, we ate lunch with our host and her coworker until Mrs. Warner had to go to a separate meeting. We stayed with the coworker, who told us all about what she did as a director of communications, as well as advice on the job, such as to always advocate for yourself.

MassGambling2The next two days were quite similar, but I found them incredibly beneficial. Mrs. Warner had me and the other extern meet with nearly all of her coworkers specializing in everything from finances to prevention and learn about what they did. We heard their stories and how they came to be employed here. Some of my favorite individuals discussed their use of art in their work, such as in merchandise design and preventive tactics, which I found captivating. We even heard from two employees that previously had troubles with gambling addiction themselves, which really put everything the Council did in perspective. I really loved these two days because they showed how vital every position was, as well as how all the different titles pulled together to create change. I never realized previously how much collaboration was required, which gave me a newfound appreciation for the entire instrumentation. I came into this externship with the hope of seeing what a non­profit was like, but as Mrs. Warner told me on the first day, non­profit work is completely different depending on what position you desire. This experience really helped me focus in on areas that may be the best fit for me.

On our last day at the facility, we drove to the University of Massachusetts to attend a conference that gave statistics and scientific results of the influence of casino openings in a given region. This was so intriguing, since the trends that were found didn’t line up with my perceived expectations. When it was time to leave, Mrs. Warner told us to keep in touch, while her assistant told us to come back and say hello some time. I felt so welcomed during my time at the Council, and I gained so much knowledge about not only gambling, but about non­profit work and the job world in general. I know that the lessons I’ve learned here and what I’ve uncovered about myself will lead me down the path that is right for me. I’m so lucky to have had the chance to experience the guidance of Mrs. Warner and her team, as well as learn all about a field that I, too, may choose to pursue.