An intern's perspective

posted by
Colleen Dunbar,

Project Specialist,
ASU Lodestar Center  

One piece of advice that aspiring nonprofit professionals should consider is to participate in an internship program. I’m in the public relations/communications/marketing industry, and internships were not required in either my undergraduate or graduate degree programs, but speaking to professionals in this field, they are definitely encouraged. I have since had the opportunity to work at multiple nonprofit organizations as an intern, where I learned what I was good at, improved on many of my skills, and learned what makes a good internship program.

You can do it!...

All of the organizations I interned with had faith in me. They all gave me fairly substantial responsibilities that would have a public impact on the organization. Press releases, social media, and websites were just a few of my responsibilities, all of which are highly visible, and nowhere in my work did they put “made by our intern.” The fact that the organizations trusted in my abilities enough to hand these responsibilities off to me boosted my confidence level immensely — which is really important for someone who is in his or her first real career-related job.

An intern is not someone who is there just for you to pass off the tedious, boring projects that you don’t want to do (okay, I did get a few of these, and I accepted them with a smile on my face!). I really felt that these organizations wanted to use my talents to advance their missions, instead of just putting me in the dreaded coffee getter-photocopier-paper shredder role that so many of my fellow marketing students were subject to.