There’s that time between right before your final semester where your brain is nowhere to be found and schoolwork is the furthest option. It was at this point, that I had yet to complete my required internship credit. That three word phrase haunted me, as it does many college students. Now, we have all heard of the stories in which different internships utilize your talent to retrieve coffee, but that wasn’t my ideal situation. My goal was to land an internship, that wouldn’t just give me college credit, but would teach me applicable skills. Too familiar with my surroundings, I decided to venture outside of my comfort zone. Previously, in a digital media class, I had completed a report on a nonprofit by the name of Long Island Cares. Interested in an opportunity, I reached out to Long Island Cares and asked if they were accepting social media interns. They weren’t officially advertising for the position, but were open enough to give me an opportunity.
Throughout my duration at Long Island Cares, I have definitely noticed that “it takes a village” to operate smoothly. Everyone within the organization is multifaceted and can handle various responsibilities if need be. It’s quite amazing and I wanted to share a couple of things I’ve learned from them.
1. They put you to work.
While interning at a nonprofit, it’s vital to have an open mind to learning new things. In a series of events, you could juggle five hats, when your initial position consists of one. For example, as a social media intern, I thought my position would consist of following other organizations and posting content. However, I quickly learned that writing is an instrumental part of social media, because words convey a message and when used correctly can provide a great deal of meaning. Like anything else, writing could be a difficult task, but with help and constant practice, it can become one of the sharpest tools under your belt. By having a great work ethic and patience, viewers can come to understand the message you are conveying through written word. Blogging is a great way to communicate your message and if you’re still reading, you’ve proven my point.
2. Non-profits are open to fresh suggestions.
Non-profit organizations are constantly searching for great ideas to attract volunteers and donors. Should you find yourself working for one, be prepared to put ideas forward, even as an intern. Your perspective could add insight on a stalling situation or help produce an unforeseen answer. There’s no such thing as a bad idea, just bad timing. Certain instances, your idea may not qualify for that specific issue, but it could possibly hold weight for another in the future. Brainstorming is essential to working with a non-profit. The more ideas you have, the absolute better.
3. Establish a relationship with the organization.
Building a relationship with the organization is very important for any internship. It demonstrates how invested, grateful, and proud you are of the work that you do. Great relationships could eventually lead to greater opportunities within the organization or references for potential jobs. Additionally, relationships in a nonprofit could produce lifelong friendships who share the same sentiments in empowering ourselves.
4. You can find your niche.
There are multiple opportunities provided while interning. Personally, I believe being in the right place at the right time could play a hand in your journey. I always had the yearning to help others, but constantly didn’t know which direction to take. Throughout my duration at Long Island Cares, I believe my purpose is directing me towards a more visible path. I have a strong sense of where I want to be, and by interning at a nonprofit, I am able to see how hard work and persistence creates a greater picture in the eye of helping others. Not every experience is going to be the same, but any experience could lead you to a mark on your destination map.
As mentioned previously, nonprofit organizations are extremely busy to ensure clients are taken care of. They work religiously to fill every position and ensure that every detail is in order. With an organization such as Long Island Cares, the responsibility to feed children is primary focus and requires an excellent team to accomplish the task. I’ve gained valuable information on finding different tactics to solve a problem, working relentlessly, and stepping outside of personal beliefs.
Interning at a nonprofit has opened my eyes tremendously. It has given me the opportunity to think of ways I could better serve my community and get others involved. Long Island Cares is an organization that I recommend to others seeking an internship. They allowed me to bring my own element to the organization and merge the two. I’ve learned to constantly work hard and revise, so that my work could have a clear understanding. To always save the rough drafts and build from those. Lastly, to not over think a message and be yourself. Your work is a reflection of yourself, create your own avenue and build from there. There is always room for polishing and growth.
Patrick Northcutt is a senior at Clayton State University and Social Media Intern at Long Island Cares. He is currently pursuing a Baccalaureate Degree in communications/media studies and is expected to graduate in December 2017. After graduation, he plans to pursue work in the music industry or child services. To find out more about Patrick, check him out on LinkedIn.