#SummerOfPurpose: Julia Mayer

A group of participants at an Upside of Downs event

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 Julia Mayer, who is spending her summer at The Upside of Downs of Northeast Ohio, where she is analyzing the DonorPerfect database to support engagement strategies, as well as assisting with special events and programming. 

Julia Mayer head shotName: Julia Mayer

College: The Ohio State University – Honors College

Hometown: Solon, OH

Internship Host Site: The Upside of Downs of Northeast Ohio 

Why did you initially decide to participate in this internship program?

I decided to participate in this internship because I wanted to gain experience in the world of the nonprofit sector, and there’s no better place to do this than at the Cleveland Foundation. As the oldest and one of the largest community foundations in the world, I feel incredibly honored to be a part of their empowering initiatives to bring out the best in our communities.

What has been the most valuable aspect of your internship experience?

The most valuable part of my internship is the knowledge that I’m helping an organization that provides such meaningful support to the Down syndrome community and beyond. By aiding the Upside of Downs with organizing their donor relations software, I’m bridging the gap between us and the constituents, therefore making it easier for USOD to reach more people and change more lives. That aspect is incredibly rewarding for me.

When you’re not working, what do you enjoy doing around Cleveland?

Some of my favorite things to do in Cleveland are to try new restaurants downtown and visit the Cleveland Museum of Art. 

What are your career goals after college?

After college, I’d like to further my education at the graduate level by getting my Master’s degree, but I’m not sure what field I’d like to get it in. After that, I’d like to be involved in nonprofit management in some way.

How has this internship helped you grow professionally?

This internship has taught me how to structure my time to increase my productivity in a professional work environment. For example, I’ve learned how to multi-task and work on several projects at once in order to get a breath of fresh air and clear my head about how to approach a project that had previously confused me. Additionally, I’ve learned a lot about professional communication and networking through my interactions with fellow interns and my work colleagues.

Golf lesson with Upside of Downs participants

Participants at an Upside of Downs golf outing that Julia helped with.

How has this internship helped you grow personally?

In terms of personal growth, I have benefited greatly from this experience. As I mentioned earlier, working for an organization that’s in the business of changing lives is greatly humbling and has transformed my outlook on the prospect of working for money, which I always saw as self-serving. But knowing that in the future I can work full time for an organization that is so generous and selfless is motivation for me to continue along this career path. To me, nothing is more satisfying than helping fellow community members reach their full potential.

Where would you take a friend who is visiting Cleveland for the first time?

I would take them to Mitchell’s Ice Cream, the West Side Market, and of course the Cleveland Museum of Art.

What advice would you give to someone considering applying for the Cleveland Foundation Summer Internship Program?

I would recommend this internship wholeheartedly to anyone who has a passion for shaping lives and working for the greater good of society. To any future applicants, I would say to approach this internship with an open mind and embrace the opportunities that await you, because the possibilities provided by the Cleveland Foundation are endless.


  1. Barb Waddle, Program Coordinator, The Up Side of Downs

    It has been a pleasure working with Julia at The Up Side of Downs! In addition to the Summer Golf clinic, Julia volunteered with our summer education program and filled in at the last minute as a volunteer for our Strider Bike camp. I wish her the best and look forward to seeing where her career takes her. Any organization will be be lucky to get her! Go Bucks!

  2. Mimi Mayer

    Julia, you are the best and I’m so proud of you! Grama M

  3. Michelle Kaiser

    So proud of you Julia!!! I cannot wait to see where life leads you!!! You are bright and have such a generous spirit, full of creativity and joy! -Dr. Kaiser :)

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