Summer of Purpose: Diona James

Three people pose for a selfie

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 Diona James, who spent her summer at United Way Services of Geauga County, where she helped to build a planned giving program, managed donor lists and helped to coordinate volunteers and supplies. 

Diona James Head Shot Name: Diona James 

College: Case Western Reserve University

Hometown: Cleveland, Ohio – Collinwood 

Internship Host Site: United Way Services of Geauga County 

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

This internship provided me the opportunity to share space with people who see Cleveland’s potential. I was interested to see Cleveland from their perspective. I decided that I wanted to have a summer full of learning and giving back to the place that I call home.

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

The most valuable aspect of my internship is the real-life work experience. Plans don’t always play out the way you imagine. I’m learning to adapt, to make the best of my current situation, and grow. I’ve learned a lot from the team at United Way of Geauga County.

Picture of United Way Geauga Office from OutsideWhat has been the most challenging aspect of your internship experience?

The most challenging aspect for me has been adjusting my communication style for the office. I’m typically a loud person, but there are other people in an office who are hard at work!

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

I like to go to different summer festivals and I’m always hungry, so I enjoy going to different restaurants and coffee shops throughout Cleveland too.

Kids walking through parkWhat are your career goals after college?

Right now, the plan is to enroll in the Peace Corps.  But I’d also like to start my own nonprofit and, one day; I’d like to be a policy analyst.

How has this internship helped you grow professionally? 

I can write emails using professional language so much faster now! Meeting so many people has strengthened my networking skills. I’ve also had the opportunity to hone in on my interests and I am more confident in my post-graduate plans.

What’s your favorite public space in Cleveland?

My favorite place in Cleveland is Wildwood Park. It’s down the street from my house and was the site of my favorite childhood aluminum and tire park.

People under a tent in a park Where would you take a friend who is visiting Cleveland for the first time?

I’d take them downtown or to the University Circle area. Both places represent the best that Cleveland has to offer.

What advice would you give to someone considering applying for the Cleveland
foundation Summer Internship program?

I’d say to write your personal statement without fear. Being hired into the nonprofit and public service sector is not only about your credentials, but your character as well. Share the best version of yourself with everyone you meet as you apply for the internship. And don’t forget to be confident!