B-Real Talks: Campus Organization Leadership to Interning with the Innocence Project

B-Real Talks are authentic conversations with employers, students, alumni, staff and faculty. We’ll discuss how to navigate various workplace dynamics, and how our guests have overcome challenges related to diversity, equity, and inclusion. Get ready to hear genuine career and professional development advice that stems from the real-life experiences of our guests!

In this interview with Galileo Savage, a senior majoring in Political Science, we explore his experiences in campus organizations and how they have equipped him to obtain an internship with the Innocence Project.

How has your identity as a Black man impacted your involvement on campus and otherwise?

It has always played a role in my leadership style; as a first-generation college student, there were not many people that I could call at home to speak about leadership, resulting in me coming in as a novice. When coming into leadership positions, I had made errors which revealed that I had a lot of things to learn about myself, as spaces tend to not be as forgiving to us as Black leaders. Understanding from a young age that as a Black Leader, there are certain eggshells that we have to walk on, and we must be diligent to dot our I’s and cross our T’s.

Active involvement in the community often demands time and dedication. How do you balance your academic responsibilities with your leadership roles in these organizations? Can you provide insights into your time management and prioritization strategies to maintain a successful equilibrium?

I think that time management is extremely important, making sure that you’re using tools such as Google Calendar, allocating your time the correct way. I think two of the biggest lessons that I went through that I wish I learned at a younger age is that things always take longer than you expect them to, so make sure that when you’re allocating time, you’re not just trying to get it done as fast as you can, but you’re also being realistic, because sometimes, when I was younger, I only gave myself a small window of time, and as a result my whole day was thrown off. Secondly, making sure that you have a solid team. I learned that early; you need a team to get anything done. In regards to leadership, having people around that you can trust and that you can delegate effectively.

Tell me about your experience interning with the Innocence Project. Do you feel that your identity aided in your success within your role?

I feel that this experience was my biggest case of imposter syndrome; I came into a space where everyone’s from some of the top private schools, and the significance of the job is apparent. I didn’t feel like I belonged there, but that was a feeling that I had here at Binghamton as a leader too. Binghamton has taught me that you need to push through that and to stay steadfast in your goal, so that is the outlook I took going into my internship with the Innocence Project. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy, but I set out to make sure I was one of the best summer interns they’ve had.

I was also the only Black male intern they had. At the time, the Supreme Court had carried out their ruling concerning affirmative action, ironically enough. I remember when this occurred, there was a bleak, airy vibe within the office as we sat in our cubicles. I always knew that I had to do great, because if I didn’t, they wouldn’t be as likely to employ someone who looks like me again. As people of color, we carry that heavy burden, and we shouldn’t. It’s common to feel like our work speaks for our people, and that is the approach I went into the internship with.]

Within the Innocence Project, I take pride in knowing that, as a junior at the time, I had the opportunity to review cases and to find the needle in the haystack, which could be the ultimate difference between this individual spending another 20 years in prison or them being able to make a case for themselves and come home.

To watch our B-Real Talk, check out the video on the Fleishman Center’s Instagram @bingfleishmancareer!

By Melissa Hewitt
Melissa Hewitt Student Director of Diversity