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 Nathan Pflaum, who spent his summer working with the Alliance for Working Together Foundation (AWT) where he helped to manage the Summer Manufacturing Institute, coordinated and prepared two special event golf outings, and conducted research projects related to school-to-business internship opportunities and surveys of past program participants.
College: Cornell University
Hometown: Pepper Pike, OH
Internship Host Site: Alliance for Working Together Foundation
Why did you initially decide to participate in the Cleveland Foundation Summer Internship Program?
My main reason for participating in this internship was my desire to experience Cleveland (and its most influential institutions) from the perspective of the nonprofit world. I believe that gaining insight from as many perspectives as possible is the best way to see the “big picture” of Cleveland.
What was the most valuable aspect of your internship experience?
The most valuable aspect of my internship experience has undoubtedly been working with my supervisor, Alice Cable. As the Executive Director of AWT, she works to administrate all programs within AWT. Being able to participate in this process has been an incredible learning experience for me as it has shown me what it is like to run a nonprofit that hosts a variety of diverse programs.
What are your career goals after college?
After earning my bachelor’s degree, I hope to go to law school. I want to do a lot of exploring in law school to figure out what kind of law I want to practice, if any. Law is something that has always interested me and I see a J.D. as a way to create many opportunities for me that are not necessarily law-related.
How has this internship helped you grow professionally?
This internship has helped me create more meaningful professional relationships. After meeting countless people through this internship and spending extended amounts of time with them, I have realized that, even under the guise of professionalism, people are still human beings with emotions. People’s emotions and desires don’t simply vanish in a professional setting and understanding this is critical to one’s professional success.
As someone who has lived on the east side most of my life, I seldom interact with people from the west side. In fact, I mostly interact with people in my immediate area. Meeting my cohort and spending many days with them over the course of the past few weeks has dramatically changed that. Members of my cohort come from many different areas in Cleveland, and I believe this has given me an expanded sense of what it means to be a Clevelander.
What’s your favorite public space in Cleveland?
The Cuyahoga Valley National Park is one of my favorite public spaces in Cleveland. I love to bike along the Towpath Trail to Penninsula to grab a bite to eat!
Where would you take a friend who is visiting Cleveland for the first time?
I would take them to Edgewater Park to watch the sunset and then for ice cream at Dairy Island.
What advice would you give to someone considering applying for the Cleveland Foundation Summer Internship program?
Keep an open mind. There are lots of things you will be able to do as an intern so it isn’t difficult to mold the internship into what you want.