Tell us about the organization you volunteer with and how you got involved.
Islands of Brilliance is an organization that uses project-based learning to help children and adult students on the autism spectrum. In 2020, InCheck had the pleasure of working with Islands of Brilliance on its brand refresh and an IOB student worked very hard to create some key components of the refreshed InCheck brand.
As a Marketing Associate for InCheck, our marketing team collaborated with Islands of Brilliance on a rebranding project in 2020. Following the successful brand launch, I was presented with an opportunity to become a mentor for the organization. Given what I knew about Islands of Brilliance and having met one of its co-founders, Mark Fairbanks as well as their Director of Educational Content, Matt Juzenas, I was very excited to get involved as a volunteer. I was also ecstatic to be able to use my graphic design background in a fulfilling way. I have been mentoring IOB students since October of 2020, working on projects that allow the students to showcase their amazing creative talents.
What makes this volunteer experience meaningful to you?
Working with Islands of Brilliance means a lot to me for several reasons but there are two that stand out the most. As a graphic designer, it brings me great pleasure to be able to mentor students in this creative field. From guiding students learning a design program such as Illustrator to helping them strengthen their teamwork skills in a creative setting, it’s fun to be able to take what I love as a designer, and offer insights to students. Mentoring students with autism has also taught me so much about what it takes to not only lead a team but how to be a good leader. I have never been in a leadership position before but it is one of my professional goals. As the leader of a group of 4 students, it is my job to not only guide them through a project to ensure there is a positive outcome, but also to understand who they are as individuals so I can be the best leader for each of them. Everyone learns differently and it takes the right leader to understand and nurture that.
What has been the most memorable accomplishment of your volunteer experience so far?
Recently, the group of students I’m mentoring struggled to get started on a project. Observing and understanding each individual’s strengths and abilities helped me identify the best way to get our project off the ground. By leaning into their strengths, we began to work as a team to accomplish a fantastic outcome for our project. Helping the students overcome a hurdle was a great experience. A prime example of this would be when we had to start diving into a project with the end goal of a presentation. I learned that two students really enjoy creating logos so I utilized their strengths to make sure they were included in the process of getting our presentation finished.
Why do you enjoy volunteering?
Volunteering has made me a better person. I’m more understanding and patient, and I have learned so much about how truly amazing the autistic community is. When mentoring a student, it brings me so much joy to see their growth and their project contributions. I hope to be able to expand my volunteer efforts into additional opportunities with other organizations in the future.
Brittany Watson is a Marketing Associate at InCheck. You can learn more about her here.
If you are interested in learning more about Islands of Brilliance and ways to get involved with the organization, start here.