Our #SummerOfPurpose blog series follows this year’s Cleveland Foundation Summer Interns as they spend 11 weeks working with Cleveland-area nonprofit and public sector organizations. In today’s blog we hear from Katie Kuckelheim, who is working with the Cleveland Restoration Society where she is integrally involved in research and tasks related to the Heritage Home Program and Preservation Services – including engaging with homeowners, developing content for a monthly newsletter and collecting oral histories and written descriptions related to prominent local sites.
College: Ohio Wesleyan University
Hometown: Chagrin Falls, OH
Internship Host Site: Cleveland Restoration Society
Why did you initially decide to participate in the Cleveland Foundation Summer Internship Program?
I decided to participate in the program to further my understanding of the Cleveland nonprofit sphere. I also knew that the internship would help me decide what career path I want to take.
What has been the most valuable aspect of your internship experience?
The most valuable piece of the program is definitely networking. The intern cohort itself is a network of future Cleveland nonprofit professionals. We also have vast opportunities to network with alumni of the internship program and current employees of the Cleveland Foundation. Finally, the internship also expands our network to all of the nonprofit sites through our Civic Immersion Days where we learn about the work of other nonprofits in Cleveland.
What has been the most challenging aspect of your internship?
The most challenging aspect of being an intern is that we know there is an expiration date with our organization. From other internship experiences, I have learned that the sooner one digs into an organization, the more experience one walks away with. It is a challenge to prove yourself capable of high-level work in such a short amount of time.
Where would you take a friend who is visiting Cleveland for the first time?
I have taken friends to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, Cleveland Museum of Art, and the West Side Market. I also make sure to point out the Hope Memorial Bridge, a huge symbol of Cleveland. My great-grandfather, a stone mason (top right corner of the picture, standing), helped carve the statues you see today!
What are your career goals after college?
In the future, it is my goal to create and shape programs that better a community. I am still working on the “what?”, “where?”, and “who?” questions to this goal. However, I know I would feel the most fulfilled working to build stronger communities.
How has this internship helped you grow professionally?
This internship has helped me better realize the importance of collaboration on projects on a larger scale. At the Restoration Society, we are connected to so many other organizations that help us do the work that we do. We have to work with local governments, and sometimes even the state government, to push a project forward. Right now, we are working on a project with Cleveland Neighborhood Progress. And with our Heritage Home Program, we work with banks and contractors to improve homes in Northeast Ohio. Relationships and collaboration are so important to the growth of our community.
How has this internship helped you grow personally?
The people I have met during this internship have inspired me. The professionals I have met and worked with have amazing and meaningful careers. They all have accomplished a lot in their lives and have done a lot of good. Although their accomplishments are intimidating at this point in my life, they inspire me because I know one day I will be just like them if I do good work. They give me the confidence to go after my goals.