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 Shneur Kushner, who is working with Union Miles Development Corporation (UMDC), where he is assisting with various marketing and planning projects.
Name: Shneur Kushner
College: Cleveland State University
Hometown: Greater Cleveland
Internship Host Site: Union Miles Development Corporation (UMDC)
Why did you initially decide to participate in this internship program?
Being a lifelong Clevelander, I know that the Cleveland Foundation is a catalyst for a lot of change and betterment here in Northeast Ohio, and I wanted to take part in that. I guess you could say I wanted to be a part of the solution.
What has been the most valuable aspect of your internship experience?
The most important part for me has been seeing how our community development corporations act both regularly and in a time of crisis. It is also great to see how many things are going on under the surface in some of Cleveland’s neighborhoods. Someone is always making moves somewhere, whether we see it or not.
What has been the most challenging aspect of your internship experience?
I would say the most challenging part for me has been trying to adapt and be malleable to the needs of my placement organization as new tasks become available. For instance, I was planning on working primarily in marketing and social media management, and now I am working on a proposal to expand the Miles Park Historic District, as well as initiating an update to the Miles Park plan (see land use map image at the top of this blog). These projects are fantastic for me as I just graduated with an undergraduate degree in planning with a certificate in historic preservation, but it is certainly not what I was expecting!
When you’re not working, what do you enjoy doing around Cleveland?
I enjoy getting out and exploring nature in and around Cleveland, as well as exploring off-the-beaten-path urban areas. I recently took it upon myself to visit all the Metroparks this summer and complete the Metroparks Trail Challenge! But we have so many Metroparks, and so far, I’ve only visited two this summer. Long story short, I’ll let you know how that goes!
What are your career goals after college?
I hope to work as a planner in Greater Cleveland helping to solve issues here. When I was a kid, Cleveland was a place people used to make fun of, and I feel like we’ve really turned a corner in that regard. Now is the time to innovate and keep that momentum going!
How has this internship helped you grow professionally?
I think this internship has helped me tremendously from a professional standpoint. Aside from the obvious office, email and professional etiquette, etc., one thing that stood out to me was learning how to listen to residents. My supervisor let me sit in on a meeting in which she listened and truly heard residents’ issues with a program that was being rolled out. Things could have become contentious, but my supervisor was always there as a calming presence to let the residents know they were heard and valued. To me, that spoke volumes as to how much Union Miles cares.
How do you hope this internship will help you grow personally?
I hope this internship will help me grow personally by showing me the issues affecting everyday residents in the city of Cleveland. It’s easy to sit in school and try and come up with solutions to complex problems. But to be in the areas arguably the most affected by these problems and see the residents, organizations and city all trying to solve these issues together is equal parts an inspiration and a wakeup call.
What’s your favorite public space in Cleveland?
Hmmm… You’re going to make me choose JUST one? I guess, in a vacuum, Lake Erie would have to be my favorite public space in Cleveland. Yes, I mean all of it. That’s my way of getting around choosing just one place!
Where would you take a friend who is visiting Cleveland for the first time?
The first thing I would do is sit them down at the new Rising Star on Lee Road, buy them a coffee and explain a couple of things:
- There is a West Side vs. East Side competition going on, but both sides are cool,
- We’re the home of rock and roll because a DJ coined the term here,
- And at least our river fires ending up creating the EPA, so take that other rust belt cities!
Next, I would take them to Edgewater Park and take a couple of pictures at the Cleveland script sign. Then, we’ll go to Ohio City for some tabletop games and Mitchell’s ice cream – and of course we’ll pop in at the Westside Market! From there, it’s onward to Downtown. I’ll park by Cleveland State University and take a trolley to the Warehouse District to grab some snacks from Constantino’s. Then, we’ll get on another trolley to Public Square. East 4th and the arcades are the next stop, with the final stop being at the downtown Heinen’s grocery store. After that, it’s back to the East Side to Little Italy and Lakeview Cemetery. I like to tell people, “In Cleveland, we make everything cool. That’s why our supermarkets and cemeteries are some of our best attractions.” If someone is playing at the Grog Shop or Beachland Tavern, then that would be the final stop. If not, then one of the many brewpubs on Lee Road is the final stop of the day.
What advice would you give to someone considering applying for the Cleveland Foundation Summer Internship program?
The application process might seem daunting, but it is worth it. The experience I am gaining both from the weekly sessions with my cohort, and my time working with UMDC is invaluable. So if you are thinking about not applying because the foundation asks for recommendations, or you think there’s a rigorous interviewing schedule, I would say the process pales in comparison to the life, work, and community experience you get from working with the Cleveland Foundation Summer Internship Program.