Lessons Learned From Our 2010 Intern Class

2010 Intern Class

Two of the Objectives of the Cleveland Foundation’s Summer Internship Program are:

  • to provide a meaningful career-related work experience and
  • to stimulate interest in the nonprofit sector.

On August 19, we said our goodbyes to the intern class of 2010. The interns talked about how much they learned about the nonprofit sector, Cleveland and themselves. We also learned from them.

2010 Intern Class

Lessons Learned

Overall, the interns felt that their projects were challenging and meaningful. They were pushed out of their comfort zones. One intern had to lead a youth landscaping crew – his first time in a leadership position. Another intern had to develop and implement a social media strategy, while another had to create a video and handbook on community garden.

The interns also talked about how their interest in the nonprofit sector has increased. Not only were interns introduced to work of diverse organizations such as Near West Theatre, Cleveland Public Art and BioEnterprise, they also had interacted with nonprofit and governmental “rock stars” Mayor Frank Jackson, Randell McShepard from RPM and India Pierce Lee from the Cleveland Foundation.

The interns also provided feedback as to what the Cleveland Foundation can do to improve the internship program. One intern said we need “more rock and roll music, live animals, and candy.” On a serious note, the interns asked for help in developing their soft skills. They asked for trainings/workshops on how to network and how to “manage up” to make their relationship with their supervisors stronger. 
We learned that the supervisor and intern relationship is strong and effective when:

  • The supervisor has a sense of the intern’s interests, strengths and weaknesses
  • The supervisor exposes the intern to the many facets of the organization from clients to staff to board
  • The supervisor and intern are flexible to changing conditions and situations
  • There is clear and regular communication between the intern and supervisor
  • The intern asks for additional tasks or projects to build her skills
  • The intern is not afraid to speak up or voice her opinion (diplomatically) if things are moving off track
  • The intern has a clear sense of her interests, strengths, and weaknesses

As this intern class learned, so did we. We wish the 2010 class the best as they proceed down their academic and career paths and we thank them for helping build the capacity of the 16 area nonprofits in which they were placed.

Are you a Cleveland area nonprofit with an important short term project and have the capacity to nurture young leadership?

We start accepting applications for host sites in October 2011.

Are you a Cleveland resident or a student of a Northeast Ohio College looking for a meaningful, paid internship?

We start accepting applications January 2011 and conduct interviews in the March 2011.