Get the Inside Scoop from the Interns

As a current college student, I think I can speak for the majority when I say I had no idea what I wanted to do withello-my-name-is-internh my life.

Could I spend my life working with codes or adjusting patient’s spines?

Well, those are a little out of my range, but I thought college could help me narrow it down further. In the classroom we learn the theories and the equations and the strategies, but how can we practice in a real-world environment before landing that first big kid job? Becoming an intern is a good place to start.

In fact, lots of students are doing it. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), sixty-five percent of bachelor’s degree graduates from the Class of 2015 participated in an internship and/or co-op during their college career – that’s the highest percentage recorded for any graduating class since NACE’s Student Survey report was first published in 2007. More specifically, fifty-nine percent of students who took part in an internship and/or co-op worked for a private, for-profit company, while twenty-five percent worked for a nonprofit organization.

Interning for a nonprofit organization can be an educational and equally rewarding experience. I understand it can be hard to volunteer unpaid time when there’s bills, school work, and a social life to stay on top of, but trust me, you gain a lot more than a few extra dollars in your pocket. Here at Big Brothers Big Sisters of the 7 Rivers Region (BBBS), I and my fellow interns want to share how BBBS really pushed us ahead.

Alayna just graduated this past May, and during the last leg of her academic career she served as the Grant Writing Intern for BBBS, where she was responsible for finding grant opportunities, writing grants, developing letter for summer fundraising campaign, program assistance (i.e. background checks, reference checks), and REACH assistance (i.e. surveys, BBBS rep. at events). She said,

In my final year at UW-L, I was still very unsure of what kind of career I wanted to pursue, and applied for the marketing internship at BBBS. When I was asked to come on as a “grant-writing” intern, I was surprised, but also very excited to be able to apply a unique skill to help serve my community. The internship opened my eyes to the field of Non-Profit Development, and helped me find my dream position. I can apply my social psychology research experience to conduct community needs assessments, and then apply my rhetoric and writing skills to apply for funding for the programs we develop to meet the needs of our community. Non-profit is the perfect mix of my degree and my passion for service.”

Karlie is a fellow marketing intern with me, with more emphasis on social media. We like to promote BBBS on social media/ assist in managing social media accounts, assist in creating REACH emails and monthly newsletters, write press releases, create flyers, posters and reach out to community members for sponsorships/donations for BBBS events.

What she enjoys the most is interacting with the community and helping spread the word about BBBS events which allows her to be creative with her ideas and means of outreach.

“I have gained quite a bit of experience in Marketing and Communications while I have been at BBBS. I also was exposed to a lot of other aspects of the BBBS organization so as a whole I gained some overall knowledge of how non-profits are run on a daily basis. It was a really good first internship for me to get my feet wet, so to speak, in a field that I want to work in after I graduate.”

For myself, I relish in cannonballing (that’s an actual word?) into things I don’t know. Meaning going all in with a certain amount of uncertainty but still taking that big leap and creating a bigger splash. Though non-profits are literally, not-for-profit, they depend on the proceeds gained from the numerous fundraisers they hold, which takes money to create. During my time I was challenged in different ways: I went out to a large local company to talk about becoming Bigs, made several calls to potential donors for our fundraisers, sit in through an interview for Bigs and Littles… it was a lot for me to take in. What I enjoyed the most out of it was allowing myself to be more, brave if you will, to reach out to people I don’t know and also creating these partnerships and hopefully long-lasting relationships with other employers and businesses in the area. I loved seeing the huge turnout for the different events we held over the summer and seeing all the attendees having a ball.

I think for all of us we agree on the level of professional communication and creativity has grown with our time here, and we have a greater appreciation of the time and work that goes into organizing these events, creating matches and sustaining them. Everyone here in BBBS is so inclusive and encouraging, they really want to help you get the most out of your experience as an intern. For the future interns: don’t be afraid to ask questions or speak up if you have new ideas! Get involved with every event that you can because you can meet some great people see how it all works. Even ask to help with projects that aren’t under your job description because you could learn valuable skills. As Alayna put it oh so nicely,

“BBBS’ mission to change children’s lives for the better, forever, also holds for interns. Everyone at this agency wants to see us succeed just as much as they want Bigs and Littles to, and they love to help us get to where we want to be. Take advantage of that.”

– Are you thinking about interning for BBBS? Read more about the internships available this fall at: https://7riversbbbs.org/about-us/employment-intern-opportunities/

– For more stats about students and internships check out: http://www.naceweb.org/s10072015/internship-co-op-student-survey.aspx#sthash.syMEk38x.dpuf