Fellow Friday: Courtney Hutchinson’s Fellowship Experience

Art created by kids participating in a MetroHealth program that Courtney coordinated.

The Cleveland Foundation Public Service Fellowship offers emerging young leaders the skills and networks needed to create the community they envision and jumpstart a career in public service. In this #FellowFriday blog, 2018-19 Cleveland Foundation Public Service Fellow Courtney Hutchinson talks about her year-long experience working and living in Cleveland. We’re currently accepting applications for the 2020-2021 fellowship. Learn more and apply here.

Courtney Hutchinson portraitCourtney Hutchinson

College: Louisiana State University

Hometown: New Orleans, LA / Valley Center, CA

Fellowship Host Site: The MetroHealth System 

How did you first hear about the Cleveland Foundation Public Service Fellowship?

I previously served as an AmeriCorps member with City Year Cleveland and the Public Service Fellowship opportunity was listed in the LACY (Life After City Year) portion of our monthly newsletter. 

Why did you initially decide to participate in this fellowship?

After seeing the position posted in our newsletter, I did some research on the Cleveland Foundation and the fellowship, and I was excited about the mission and vision of the foundation. I was looking for another opportunity to continue to serve the Cleveland community after City Year and decided that the fellowship was a great way to do that, while also participating in professional development and being in another cohort setting.

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

I think that the most valuable part of my fellowship has been the civic immersion days. Once a month, each fellow plans and implements a day at their host site for fellows to be immersed in their work. I’ve learned a lot about the various institutions in Cleveland and have met a lot of people that work and live in Cleveland neighborhoods.

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

When I’m not working, I’m traveling (my family lives around the country). On the off chance that I didn’t buy a plane ticket home for the weekend, I enjoy the green spaces in Cleveland. There are so many cool parks and trails around the city and the outer suburbs to explore.

What’s your favorite Cleveland restaurant, and what dish do you recommend there?

I have two favorite restaurants in Cleveland. Bangkok Thai on Mayfield has THE BEST Thai food in the city. My other favorite restaurant is Barroco Arepa Bar on Larchmere, an authentic Colombian restaurant that has live music on Fridays and Saturdays. Pretty much anything on their menu is delicious, but a few of my favorites are cheesy corn with chicken, empanadas, and the Mexicana arepa with maduros and a side of spicy peanut sauce.

What’s your favorite public space in Cleveland? 

Though technically it’s not in Cleveland but only a short car ride away, Brandywine Falls is my absolute favorite public space in (/around) Cleveland. I also love Edgewater Park.  

Courtney, pictured on the MetroHealth Life Flight helicopter during her civic immersion day.

Why would you recommend this fellowship program to others?

I would recommend this fellowship to other young professionals because it kick starts your career in public service. There’s a meme that floats around social media that says something along the lines of “when jobs want you to have 10 years of experience before the age of 22,” and shows a bunch of toddlers in construction vests and hard hats. As funny as it is, it’s true. This fellowship gives opportunities that are hard to grasp when you’re right out of college. Along with the professional development component and the network building, it sets you up nicely for a fulfilling career in the public sector both in and outside of Cleveland.

What advice would you give to someone considering applying for the Cleveland Foundation Public Service Fellowship?

The advice I would give to someone considering applying for the fellowship is to just go for it. Don’t be afraid to hold back or ask questions. This is an amazing opportunity and you have to put yourself out there in order to be seen.