Our #SummerOfPurpose blog series follows this year’s Cleveland Foundation Summer Interns as they reflect on 11 weeks spent working with Cleveland-area nonprofit and public sector organizations. In today’s blog we hear from Zoe Bale, who spent her summer with Community Partnership on Aging, where she assisted with a new initiative, CPAConnects2U, serving as a coach and trainer to a cohort of older adults interested in learning how to access technology to increase socialization and reduce isolation.
College: Case Western Reserve University
Hometown: Stamford, CT
Internship Host Site: Community Partnership on Aging
Why did you initially decide to participate in this internship program?
I wanted an internship that not only would give me hands-on experience but also allow me to make connections and network with people within the nonprofit sector. Also, as an accounting major, this seemed a lot different than my previous internships and I wanted to experience something different to see how much more there really is.
What has been the most valuable aspect of your internship experience?
Learning about not only the nonprofit that I was working with but all the different sites that the other interns were at was an amazing experience. This internship has opened my eyes to so much more of what is out there and I have had really cool conversations because of it.
What has been the most challenging aspect of your internship experience?
I think the most challenging aspect of this internship has been understanding all the ins and outs of the nonprofit world. It takes a bit to see where the Cleveland Foundation fits into the overall scheme and where not only my site but all the other interns’ sites also fit. It has really demonstrated how vast this industry is.
When you’re not working, what do you enjoy doing around Cleveland?
I love going to all the different independent or used bookstores in Cleveland. There are some awesome ones in Tremont and Ohio City that I love to stop in every so often to scout out the new collection. Then I love getting a coffee and finding a new place to sit and relax and read a bit.
What are your career goals after college?
My career goals are to go into public accounting after college. I am a business student, but it was really interesting to see where exactly nonprofits sit in that industry!
How has this internship helped you grow professionally?
This internship has helped me grow professionally because I’ve learned how to break down ideas that are hard to understand into simpler, smaller pieces of information. I’ve learned how to take that step back from a problem and try to identify at what point the information became too complex and then re-explain to help someone reach the proper understanding. It has also helped me be able to see the larger picture and how the little things that we begin to understand lead to something much bigger that will have a lasting impact.
How has this internship helped you grow personally?
This internship has helped me grow personally because it has taught me how to better communicate with the older population. Prior to this experience, most of my interactions were with people my age and younger or my parents’ age. Learning how to communicate with different types of people is super important and beneficial in becoming a well-rounded person since in the real world you could be interacting with anyone.
What’s your favorite public space in Cleveland?
Easy!! The Cleveland Public Library, but more specifically the outdoor part by the water fountain. It is just so serene and feels a bit like you’ve traveled some place far to find it.
What advice would you give to someone considering applying for the Cleveland Foundation Summer Internship program?
Some advice I’d give is if it even interests you a little bit, go for it! Reach out to the people who work at the Cleveland Foundation and talk to them. When I originally was applying, I wasn’t sure if I was the right fit for it with my background, but after talking with people, you realize how large the nonprofit sector is and how much you wouldn’t think goes into it.