Seeing hope in the world: A nonprofit intern’s experience

Each new experience inevitably changes my perspective on life, and the past six months as an intern at St. Vincent Catholic Charities (STVCC) are no exception. What began as a desire to volunteer for a local charity quickly developed into an opportunity to join STVCC’s mission to serve the people of Michigan. Working as an intern has provided me with wonderful opportunities to learn new skills and pursue my passions. Most importantly, I’ve come to see Lansing, a city I’ve loved all my life, as a place where generosity and hard work provide help and create hope for those in need.

Gaining Experience

In May of 2016, I ended my junior year and knew I had just one summer left before graduation. As a professional-communications major, I searched for a way to learn about communications in different fields. Reaching out to STVCC gave me the chance to gain first-hand knowledge of  community relations in a nonprofit.

I had no clue what to expect, but I gave it a shot. In June, I accepted a position as STVCC’s communications intern.

In the last six months, I’ve learned many practical skills such as writing press releases and updating the agency website and Facebook page. Yet the most valuable knowledge I’ve gained is how important community relations is to the success of a nonprofit.

Accomplishments and Service

Working with individuals who view their jobs as service made me pause and reevaluate my own goals. My accomplishments became the accomplishments of the agency.

Whenever I successfully shared a story with local publications, the agency could share their mission. Writing newsletter stories for publication and distribution to more than 6,000 agency supporters helps the people of Lansing understand our mission.

I was really pleased to know that my work on STVCC’s Facebook page led to 150 new “likes,” surpassing 2,000 total. I’ve also been lucky to write blog posts that share the stories and experiences of the daily work of the agency.

Seeing my efforts benefit this amazing agency, and knowing this agency serves the people of Lansing, made my experience one that I will never forget.

What this Internship Means to Me

As I end my internship with STVCC, I am amazed by how much this internship has shaped my final six months of college.

ExperienceThis organization centers on service. It’s mission is to care for those in need and advocate for those who cannot speak for themselves. It provides homes for refugees and children, and counsel for parents in need. Because of this opportunity, I’ve been able to support the dedicated caseworkers, therapists, and volunteers as they serve others.

Yes, I’ve learned practical skills, but I’ve also seen how dedicated service creates hope. While sitting in a back office overlooking the St. Joseph cemetery, I’ve learned that hope begins with the help of others. It starts with kind words and a helping hand. This internship has helped me understand that internships aren’t just for gaining practical skills and finding a job. Sometimes, the best internships are those that teach you the value of serving others first.

About the Author

Emily Pohl is a student practitioner at Martin Waymire and a graduate of Siena Heights University with a bachelor’s degree in Professional Communications. In addition to her work in public relations, she recently completed her stint as a communications and development intern for St. Vincent Catholic Charities. Emily is a lifetime member of St. Gerard Parish who volunteers as a social media promoter for local young professional groups. When not at work, Emily indulges her love of reading, dancing, writing poetry, and traveling around the world.

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