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 Emily Reyes, who spent her summer at the Young Latino Network, where she worked alongside staff to encourage civic engagement and leadership development among Hispanic communities in the Greater Cleveland area.
Name: Emily Reyes
College: Baldwin Wallace University
Hometown: Lorain, Ohio
Internship Host Site: Young Latino Network
Why did you initially decide to participate in this internship program?
I decided to participate in the Cleveland Foundation Summer Internship Program because I wanted to be a part of something bigger than myself. I liked the idea of being a part of a group of people who are equally as passionate about public service and social equity as I was, and I wanted to connect with that community of people.
What has been the most valuable aspect of your internship experience?
The most valuable aspect of my internship experience is that I have had the opportunity to make real, human connections. After being locked behind a screen for the past few years due to the pandemic, it is so rewarding to be able to be back in the community, serving and building relationships.
What has been the most challenging aspect of your internship experience?
The most challenging aspect of my internship experience was adjusting to a 9-5 work schedule! It was not something I was used to, and oftentimes I would come home feeling very tired. However, it has been a great learning experience and has taught me the value of prioritizing my time as well as managing it during my off time.
When you’re not working, what do you enjoy doing around Cleveland?
I love going to see The Cleveland Orchestra, it has always been one of my favorite pastimes to go see them perform, so I try to take advantage of every opportunity I get!
What are your career goals after college?
After college, I hope to continue my studies in international relations and gain experience working abroad for international organizations.
How has this internship helped you grow professionally?
Throughout this internship, I have been exposed to many new skills that will undoubtedly equip and prepare me for future internships and jobs. For example, I learned how to navigate a CRM system, became familiar with tools such as Microsoft Teams and Excel, and learned some of the technicalities of how a nonprofit runs behind the scenes. Most importantly, I learned the importance of networking and maintaining the connections I have made through this experience.
How has this internship helped you grow personally?
Being at the Young Latino Network has grown me immensely. I have had the opportunity to exist in a professional space where I could proudly be as Latina as I wanted to be. Their “come as you are” environment has taught me to both embrace and celebrate my culture. I will leave this internship feeling much more connected to my community, and for that I am forever grateful.
What’s your favorite public space in Cleveland?
My favorite public space in Cleveland has to be the West Side Market! It is a wonderful way to spend a Saturday afternoon if you are looking for something to do.
Where would you take a friend who is visiting Cleveland for the first time?
I would probably take them to University Circle. I would like to show them how Cleveland can really be a cultural hub full of art, diverse people and cuisine!
What advice would you give to someone considering applying for the Cleveland Foundation Summer Internship program?
My advice would be to just do it. This experience has been incredibly gratifying, and I feel as though being a Cleveland Foundation summer intern has made my summer very meaningful. The connections you make throughout the program are invaluable; it is an experience you would not regret. Even if you are hesitant, go for it!